"Jurassic Park Builder"
Available on iOS devices
Score: 4 out of 4
"Jurassic Park," a film now 20 years gone by, is well-trodden territory for video game adaptations. The original concept, brilliantly adapted from Michael Crichton's novel, has become so familiar that it almost feels like someone should've created a real-life dinosaur park by now.
In that timespan, nobody has successfully extracted dinosaur DNA from fossilized amber, but several attempts have been made to simulate the experience, the best of which is "Jurassic Park Builder" for iOS.
The genre of park-building "Tycoon"-style games rarely needs another entry. The advent of the casual social-mobile platform has been a breeding ground for hundreds of God's eye-view strategy games. However, "Jurassic Park Builder" justifies its existence in that the film is by far the most famous property based on actual theme park creation. Talk about synergy!
This style of gaming often falls into the trap of being too simple for strategy fans or too complex for a small mobile device. "Jurassic Park Builder" balances the tension well, providing a straight-forward touchscreen interface that still allows a good view of what's going on. The game isn't prohibitively complex, but it does offer a satisfying depth through customization options for the player's park.
As with much of the genre, the game can be socialized by visiting other players' parks and working cooperatively, although this feature does require a Facebook account. Mercifully, the game allows one to play as a guest without logging in through Facebook, thus advertising they are spending a workday waiting for shipments of Pteranodon food to arrive.
What ultimately sets the game apart is that it balances sandbox play with meaningful assigned tasks and it doesn't skimp on the content below the paywall. Patient players willing to work hard and chase down experience points are rewarded as equally as someone who wants to throw real life money at their park.
The icing on the cake is the authenticity and reverence for the original movie. Let's face it, the sequels to "Jurassic Park" weren't spectacular and the rumored "Jurassic Park IV" sequel isn't anything to pin one's hopes on. "Jurassic Park Builder" gives the people what they want and brings in all the elements that made the original film so special. The game features characters with real actor likenesses, sound-alike John Williams music, the classic iconography of the park's main gate and those green and yellow Ford Explorers.
Until somebody (finally) builds a real theme park with reconstituted dinosaur DNA, "Jurassic Park Builder" will do just fine.