Well, at least you dinotried
Are you done groaning yet? Good. Dinocide prides itself in being retro. Stop Groaning. Self-described as a NES inspired old-school platformer, you can pretty much guess what you’re getting out of the whole thing. One look at the screenshots and I immediately thought Joe and Mac or Adventure Island. At this point in most reviews I’d tell you you’re wrong to limit the game, but unfortunately, you aren’t.
Starting with the plot, it’s hard to get past how by-the-numbers this game feels. Your girlfriend is stolen. You should probably get her back. Plot over. I understand that this trope is tired, and Dinocide’s very nature isn’t looking to reinvent the wheel. That doesn’t mean the damsel trope isn’t tired and risky to throw at us right at the beginning of the game. Maybe next time around the boyfriend can get stolen? Or maybe my secret candy stash? Maybe not.
The game itself is standard, too. Get from point A to point B, try not to die. There are water levels, sand levels, forest levels, and whatever else you’ve probably already pictured. Jump over the pit, throw rocks and other projectiles, whatever you do just go right. Victory is always to the right.
There are multiple paths to go through the game to get to the end, but I was only given the option to change paths once in the game. I don’t believe there are more levels, though, just different routes to get to the final boss. There were only two big bosses in the game which is a huge missed opportunity in a game that’s title suggests killing dinosaurs. Seriously, more bosses! Throw me back to the days when every couple of levels I had something monstrous to fear.
There are a few things worth noting that gives Dinocide it’s own feel and that’s the hunger timer and the fatigue bar. The hunger bar took me by surprise and I ended up dying three or four times. Basically, the the hunger bar is a timer that rapidly decreases and unless you pick up food as you go, you die. If you get hit, the hunger bar lowers. Your time and life coincide which I didn’t love but at least it’s trying something different. The other part is the fatigue bar which prevents you from attacking indefinitely. Admittedly, the game would have been much easier if I could mash attack and plow through the levels. Still, the way it’s implemented is really frustrating. Lastly, there are dinosaur mounts with unique attacks and immunity. For example, the red little t-rex can walk across lava, the green whatever-it-is dinosaur can walk across the poison quicksand, etc. Once your health bar/timer reaches the end while mounted the mount disappears and your character ends up on the map with half their health. They’re useful but rarely come up after the first collection of levels.
There are different weapons to collect and if you finish a level with the item it remains in your inventory. Your inventory pops up before you enter any level and the same goes for the dino mounts I mentioned earlier. This is a pretty nice feature and it enables you to collect gems and other things you’d be unable to reach without specific items.
There has been a ton of innovation in this genre even with titles looking to emulate classic style games. I really do love retro graphics and music, but Dinocide came up short in a lot of ways. After the first few levels there was nothing new to look at, nothing new to do, and the lack of bosses gave me less to look forward to. I know this review has come off really negative, but that’s not to say that Dinocide is a bad game. The music tracks are limited but nicely designed, the levels and graphics look good, the hit detection works like it’s supposed to. The game feels like a finished project, but it’s very plain. The game is quite short. I finished it in about two hours, but I finished Dinocide without it feeling like a grind. Dinocide just isn’t very memorable. Nostalgia goggles or not, I’d check out some other platformers if you’re looking for your classic fix.
Final Verdict: 2.5 / 5
Available on: PC (reviewed), Mac, Linux; Publisher:Atomic Torch; Developer: Atomic Torch; Players: 1; Released: January 21, 2016; Genre: Retro/Platformer; MSRP: $9.99
Full disclosure: This review is based on a copy of Dinocide provided by the game’s publisher.