Dinosaur Planet: Hands-On Impressions

Dinosaur Planet was originally scheduled to release on the N64, but it has since been moved to Nintendo's GameCube. These hands-on impressions were written when the game was planned for the Nintendo 64.

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Dinosaur Planet has a lot in common with Zelda: Ocarina of Time. It has a similar style of gameplay, in that your characters run around with a sword or a staff, dealing damage with every push of the B button. It also has the Z-trigger lock-on feature from Zelda. It also looks to be every bit the action-packed adventure that Zelda 64 was - maybe even moreso.

One of the main selling points of Dinosaur Planet is its liberal use of speech. Unlike most N64 games, all of DP's narrative is spoken, rather than scrolled across the bottom of the screen. The speech is clear and easily understandable. The rest of the game's sound is terrific at this point. Dinosaurs growl with authority, the music swells and fades at all the right moments, and the ambient sounds are top-notch.

The game's graphics definitely stand up to the high marks set by the sound, as well. One of the demo levels featured an enormous T-Rex boss. The T-Rex growls, gnashes his teeth, and eventually starts running after you. It all looks extremely realistic - well, about as realistic as you'd expect a dinosaur to look, anyway.

The game's controls are fairly smooth. Like Zelda, the game lacks a dedicated jump button unless you're locked on an enemy with the Z-trigger. Different combinations of buttons are used to do things like activate spells, use items, and interact with objects.

The real breakout level in the demo puts your character on the back of an electricity-shooting pterodactyl. From the back of this beast, you'll have to take out a gigantic flying ship, which is constantly launching great-looking fireballs at you. The whole thing is somewhat reminiscent of Sega's Panzer Dragoon. Very, very cool. With games as great-looking as Dinosaur Planet waiting in the wings, Nintendo's decision to focus on the N64 and not talk about the Dolphin until August seems more and more like a pretty good idea.

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