Disney's Dinosaur thundered into theaters in the summer of 2000, and not too long after, it showed up as a licensed game on Sony's PlayStation. As is par for the movie-to-game course, Dinosaur has now been ported to the Dreamcast. Just like in the PlayStation version, the game combines action, puzzle solving, and a dash of RPG elements into a fairly interesting amalgam, but unfortunately what could have been a decent game is marred by lackluster execution.
The story of Dinosaur is one of colossal proportions. A misplaced dinosaur egg is rescued by a family of tree-dwelling lemurs, including the zany Zini. The egg hatches into Aladar, a strapping iguanadon, and he lives in peace with his newfound mammalian friends. This peaceful time does not last, though; a great meteorite falls from the sky and decimates the land, and suddenly Aladar, Zini, and their pterodactyl friend Flia find themselves in a struggle for survival against the desolation of a postapocalyptic world. Joining the great dinosaur herd, the three companions must make the trek across a long desert to find the sacred nesting grounds, a fabled valley where water and plant life are still plentiful. It is, of course, your job as the player to guide them there.
Unlike most licensed games, Dinosaur actually involves a bit of complexity. Rather than a straightforward action game featuring only Aladar, Dinosaur casts you as Aladar, Zini, and Flia, and the three can be controlled interchangeably. All three have different skills; Aladar is the strongest, Zini is quick and mobile, and Flia can fly. Teamwork between the three is required to solve most puzzles. For instance, Aladar can break large rocks with his tail, and Zini can then collect the resulting smaller stones to use as weapons. The three characters have a collective inventory in which to store items, and a rudimentary experience system raises their levels and unlocks increases in attributes like strength and speed. It's nice to see a movie based game that has involving gameplay.
Despite what seemed like competent design, the PlayStation version of Dinosaur was a real chore to play, thanks to its flawed execution. Unfortunately, not a whole lot has been changed for the Dreamcast version. Foremost, its control is very slow and awkward, and the inaccurate collision detection sometimes makes walking around obstacles a tedious affair. Dinosaur is also needlessly difficult at times; if Zini even touches water, for instance, he drowns instantly. Though teamwork is emphasized in solving problems, the objectives themselves aren't all that interesting, and you get the impression that the three characters would sometimes be better off working independently. The levels and goals have been altered somewhat since the PlayStation original, but the changes are often only superficial--the game hasn't gotten much more fun to play. The Dreamcast Dinosaur's graphics are a definite improvement over the PlayStation's, however. That doesn't mean they're stellar, necessarily, but they don't really look bad.
Dinosaur was a game with potential when it came out on the PlayStation, but it seems that in the porting process, little effort was spent trying to repair its flaws. Thus we have a prettier version of the same game that came out in late 2000, and though it has a few extra features like higher-quality full-motion video and an improved "dinosaur encyclopedia," it's really just an average game that you'd do well to pass up.