Jurassic Park Finally Gets the 'RollerCoaster Tycoon' Treatment

'Planet Coaster' developers finally create the dinosaur theme-park game we always deserved with 'Jurassic World Evolution'
August 21, 2017, 2:23pm

JOHN HAMMOND: This is just a delay. That's all it is. All major theme parks have delays. When they opened Disneyland in 1956, nothing worked!

IAN MALCOLM: Yeah, but John, if The Pirates of the Caribbean breaks down, the pirates don't eat the tourists. - Jurassic Park

There are three things that make the original 1993 Jurassic Park so tremendous: first and foremost, it might evoke some of the purest wonder and majesty I've ever experienced in a film. I think I have seen the first third of Jurassic Park about twice as many times as I've watched the full film, because I will never get tired of that moment when Grant and Sattler first see the brontosaurus.

Then there's the dark comedy of the "theme park as malfunctioning death trap", typified by park creator John Hammond's relentlessly sunny optimism about the severity of the crisis. No matter how many people are brutally killed and devoured by his living "attractions," Hammond is convinced that he's sitting on top of a gold mine. What's not to love about the image of a dinosaur ripping apart a tiki-shack bathroom to eat the delicious accountant hiding on a toilet inside?


Finally, it's also a really effective suspense / horror movie where super-intelligent velociraptors are hunting their human prey through a man-made environment that they increasingly understand.

For years, most Jurassic Park games focused on this latter aspect, putting players in the shoes of one of those hunted and terrified humans in games like Ocean Software's Jurassic Park for SNES or the legendary, infamous Trespasser (seriously, this discussion from my friends at Idle Thumbs does a great job of discussing the less-remembered aspects of the game).

But finally, someone is giving Jurassic Park the RollerCoaster Tycoon treatment. Frontier Developments, who made the spiritual successor to RollerCoaster Tycoon with Planet Coaster, are working on Jurassic World Evolution, putting some Dino-DNA into the theme park builder genre. The game is slated for next summer, on PC, Xbox, and PlayStation.

I'm encouraged at how much the trailer appears to be drawing from those former aspects of Jurassic Park. After the comedy of seeing a work crew on a basic maintenance call accidentally set a T-rex loose, we get a slow reveal of the full theme park and a call-back to the original John Williams theme.

And right there, that's the Jurassic Park game I want: the dark comedy and sadism of a RollerCoaster Tycoon game combined with the beauty and awe of seeing those dinosaurs roaming a gorgeous park. If Frontier deliver on this, I am—like John Hammond himself—going to get a lot of tourists eaten, and make a lot of money doing it.