Jurassic Park – Danger!

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The first visitors have arrived at Jurassic Park to see its miraculous dinosaurs firsthand. But chaos has hit Isla Nublar the power is out, and the prehistoric creatures are on the hunt! One player controls the T. rex, Dilophosaurus, and Velociraptor, prowling through the jungle to attack the humans. The other players team up as characters from the classic movie, struggling to get J…
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Category Tags , , SKU TRV-22490 Availability 3+ in stock
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Awards

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You Might Like

  • Sticks to the Jurassic Park theme throughout
  • Lots of playable characters

Might Not Like

  • Very repetitive game play limits replayability
  • Other games are similar and better
  • Meeple & dinosaur pieces are generic & feel cheap
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Description

The first visitors have arrived at Jurassic Park to see its miraculous dinosaurs firsthand. But chaos has hit Isla Nublar the power is out, and the prehistoric creatures are on the hunt! One player controls the T. rex, Dilophosaurus, and Velociraptor, prowling through the jungle to attack the humans. The other players team up as characters from the classic movie, struggling to get Jurassic Park back online and escape the island before they fall prey!

We would like to start this review by saying both Andy & Dom are huge fans of Jurassic Park (apart from the third one…) and the magic of the original 1993 film holds a special place for both of us. Having said that, we feel “Jurassic Park: Danger” sadly fails to capture this magic and bring it to the table.

Jurassic Park: Danger is a 2-5 player adventure strategy game, produced by Ravensburger and set on Isla Nublar which pits one player controlling the dinosaurs against up to four other players trying to fix the facility and escape the island.

The dinosaur player has a very simple job, eat as many people as they can, as quick as they can. The game features all your favourite characters from Dr Grant through Dennis Nedry and, everyone’s favourite insurer risk assessor, Mr Donald Genaro. Yes, now you can play as the second most famous man to die on the toilet.

The game works on a board made up of tiles that are randomly laid at the start of each game. The facilities are then added at their pre-determined locations and the players start in the centre or the island with the dinosaurs starting in their pens. Jurassic Park: Danger takes place just after Dennis Nedry has shut off all the power, so the game gets right into the action.

“That’s One Big Pile of Rules”

Jurassic Park: Danger is broken up into two-player phases, the dinosaur actions and then the human actions. The dinosaur player controls three dinos at the same time, throughout the entire game and each one has a special ability to give them an edge.

The Dilophosaurus can spit into adjacent tiles, the Velociraptor can sprint across two tiles in one turn and the T-Rex can deal double damage. We will explain how damage works when we discuss humans, as dinosaurs cannot be injured. The dinosaur player wins once they have defeated/eaten 3 characters in a 2/3 player game or 4 characters for a 4/5 player game.

Players in charge of human characters control one character at a time, each has their own special ability and also a victory condition. The humans must collectively reach & activate three facilities on the map: The maintenance shed (which allows the reactivation of the electric fences), the visitors centre (this allows one player to recover lost cards) and the control centre (placing “safe zones” on key locations, stopping dinosaurs from entering.)

Whilst trying to achieve this, each character must meet their unique victory condition. Dr Sattler, for example, needs to visit the Triceratops paddock to collect theirs. Once all areas are activated & the players have their victory token, characters need to sprint to the Helicopter Pad to escape. The human players win once they have 3 characters off the island, regardless of the number of players.

“This is a UNIX system! I know this!”

“That’s all well and good Dandy, but how do we Jenga this?” Well, Jurassic Park: Danger feels a bit like chess, each piece on the board moves in its own way and the aim is for one player to avoid losing their pieces to the other. Each human character has their own deck of action cards and chooses one action per turn. This can be a dynamic action like running, climbing, or sneaking.

These actions will move your character around the board. Or, players can choose to use more special actions, such as Dr. Grant’s “give me your hand” which allows players to move another character, potentially out of danger. Once a player has used their card, it is discarded but may be brought back into play. However, if you are unlucky enough to bump into a hungry dino, you will take damage.

Damage is easy in Jurassic Park: Danger, there are no rolls/saves/dodges, if you are in the same space as a dinosaur, you get injured and the dinosaur player “burns” one random card from your hand, unless the T-Rex uses their special ability and takes two.

Once a card is burnt, it is permanently removed from the game. This is important because those cards, aside from being your actions, also double-up as your hit points. Once a player has no more cards in their hand, the character they are playing is eliminated from the game.

The dinosaur player mechanics are very similar to the humans, but they do not have access to their full deck all the time. They randomly draw three cards, choose one action card to play along with a dinosaur ability (spit, sprint, bite) and move their beasties accordingly. Unlike the humans, the dinosaurs cannot run out of cards as the player shuffles and reload their deck whenever they have an empty hand. Humans cannot injure dinosaurs but can try to trap them with electric fences.

“Not-So Clever Girl”

As we said at the beginning, Dom & Andy are both lifelong fans of Jurassic Park, and that is why it is upsetting for us to admit that we simply did not have much fun during our playthroughs of Jurassic Park: Danger. And, “having fun” is the true test of a board game. The game does not really do the film justice as it lacks any way to build the same tension of the movie, so it fails to build a similar atmosphere in your living room. Now, we aren’t saying we were expecting actual, real-life raptors to invade our home, but we also weren’t expecting plywood ones either.

The twelve-page booklet can be confusing and feels over-long. For example, rather than explaining how the humans work and then how the dinosaurs work, the rulebook seems to jump between the two, so you have to read the entire booklet before you play either side. This is an issue because going into the game, both sides already know most of the tricks the other might have up their sleeve, leaving little room for deceptive gameplay. The instructions make what is actually quite a straightforward game, appear very complicated and we all know this can put a new player off a game very quickly.

“We Spared No Expense…”

Jurassic Park: Danger is a game for up to 5 players, but it works better with 4. The board, even with the clever tile system, is not actually big enough to allow for any real strategy as it is only five tiles across at its widest. The tiles would also make a great randomising element, but the four areas the humans must reach are always in the same place. This means both the dinosaur and human players always know where the other is heading, as you can guess this means fox-guarding can become a real issue. We agree that “Turtling” is a legitimate strategy, but it is also very boring.

The start location is always only 4 moves away from the escape point, making it extremely difficult for the dinosaur player to stop humans from escaping in the end phase of the game. Thematically, if Dennis “Marathons are for Losers” Nedry can outpace a velociraptor, you should probably revisit your game mechanics.

“But Dandy, it would be boring if the dinosaurs were not a threat.” Agreed, but they don’t feel threatening, they feel like just another obstacle in the game and that is dull for both the human and dinosaur players. Because human players can take a fair bit of punishment (and even when they are defeated, the players can select another character) there is never really any true threat, so tension doesn’t build.

Some human characters’ victory rules are interesting. Tim & Lex, for example, need to visit certain areas on the board to get their victory token, and this is one of the really good aspects of Jurassic Park: Danger as it adds another level of planning and difficulty for the human players.

But some victory conditions can be frustrating. Like John Hammond, who starts with his token but losses it if another character is killed. Remember, a character can only escape the island if they have their victory token. This means if the T-Rex gets Mr Genaro before Dr Hammond gets to the helicopter, Hammond is rendered almost useless and all but guarantees the dinosaur player another point.

A Different Breed

The publisher for Jurassic Park: Danger, Ravensburger, are actually one of our favourite publishers, producing excellent games that are usually easy to pick up and fun for many playthroughs. So, it does feel very strange that this game was a miss for us. Ravensburger also produced Jaws, which is extremely similar to Jurassic Park: Danger in that it pits 3 human players against a fourth player who controls Bruce the Shark (Yes, the shark from Jaws is called Bruce. Yes, that’s where Finding Nemo got it from. Yes, it is hilarious.) Jaws is a tight & easy to learn game that is very enjoyable for everyone. We cannot recommend Jaws enough; we had hoped to say the same for Jurassic Park: Danger.

Junior Dino-Ranger – Ione

As always, we brought a friend along who has never played before to get their opinion on Jurassic Park: Danger. “Good concept, not as great execution” is how Ione summed this game up, and we have to say we agree. Ione really enjoyed how the game has so many characters (almost everyone in the original film is playable) but also felt the game does not always know what to do with them all, making the game feel clunky and awkward at times.

Dom’s Final Thoughts

Dom’s final thoughts are around the artwork & quality of Jurassic Park: Danger as a product. The puzzle-esque nature is interesting and each tile has its own unique design making for a visually appealing game. The card quality is fine, but the map tiles feel like they will not survive too many playthroughs.

The artwork for each character is pulled straight from the movie and helps give each character a distinct feel. However, the generic meeple is a let-down, as are the dinosaur pieces. It seems odd to be able to make a Jurassic Park game but not be able to use the real dinosaurs, especially as every other aspect of the game seems true to the movie.

Andy’s Final Thoughts

Jurassic Park: Danger could be improved because we would have loved to have played a fun Jurassic Park themed board game. The tile system reminds us of Betrayal at House on The Hill but is not done quite as well.

Maybe human players could explore the map, discovering the areas they need as they go? Meanwhile, the dinosaur player can look at the whole map so they know where everything is and plan accordingly. This would allow for traps & ambushes, really helping to build a sense of tension for the humans.

There is another, similar game, from Ravensburger called Alien: Fate of The Nostromo which has all the players working together, against the Alien, towards a mission that changes as the game progresses.

Both Betrayal & Alien present a new scenario each time you play to keep the game fresh, this could also be applied to Jurassic Park: Danger and would really compliment the tile design of the board. Unfortunately, as it stands, the game is very repetitive and can get boring even after a couple of playthroughs.

Like Dr Grant, we have decided not to endorse this park and we would have gladly paid more for a better product, both in quality and execution. Jurassic Park: Danger feels like 80% of a game, it looks like a game and sounds like a game, but it just misses the mark.

Although we both feel that there is great potential for an excellent board game here, we would call this a work in progress and recommend you look at some other film tie-in games from Ravensburger, such as Jaws or Alien: Fate of The Nostromo.

Zatu Score

Rating

  • Artwork
  • Complexity
  • Replayability
  • Player Interaction
  • Component Quality

You might like

  • Sticks to the Jurassic Park theme throughout
  • Lots of playable characters

Might not like

  • Very repetitive game play limits replayability
  • Other games are similar and better
  • Meeple & dinosaur pieces are generic & feel cheap