During the peak of the original PlayStation, legendary game designer Shinji Mikami rose to fame by creating several classic franchises. First in 1996, Mr. Mikami created Resident Evil, and with it, the entire survival horror genre that we know and love today. A few years later in 1999, Mikami created his second survival horror franchise; Dino Crisis. While not quite as commercially successful as its older sibling, Dino Crisis and it’s sequel Dino Crisis 2 were both met with praise from the media and the growing survival horror fan base.
Starring a leather clad red head named Regina, Dino Crisis swapped mindless zombies for everyone’s childhood wonder: Dinosaurs! Players were now struggling to survive in a world that has been overrun by one of the mightiest and most vicious species to ever walk the Earth. Dino Crisis took the survival horror formula, and turned it up a notch by making the enemies deadlier, trading the narrow corridors of a mansion for a facility deep inside the jungle. What could be scarier and more heart pounding than trying to survive a dinosaur infested jungle?
What should change:
More polys – Like Resident Evil before it, Dino Crisis used pre-rendered backgrounds and static camera angles. This would make updating the game’s visuals easier on the developers as they could simply update the character models and action that happens on screen. The environments themselves would basically remain untouched. After releasing on the PlayStation, Dino Crisis went on to be released on the Dreamcast and most recently PlayStation Network, so the developers have already made touches that could be built upon.
Extinction points – Naturally Capcom should want gamers to start with the original Dino Crisis but the addition of extinction points to Dino Crisis 2 cannot be overlooked. Dino Crisis 2 took a slightly more action oriented direction by throwing more enemies at you and by awarding the player with “extinction points” for every dino they managed to take down. These points could be used to buy new weapons, ammo, supplies and to upgrade your arsenal. This feature made the game slightly more arcade like in nature and today’s gamers would appreciate the more action oriented direction.
Extra Crisis – Another feature that Dino Crisis 2 implemented that should be included in any hypothetical update of Dino Crisis is the unlockable mode “Dino Colosseum”. Dino Colosseum was a kind of survival mode which placed the player in a virtual colosseum with the weapons of their choice tasking the player to fend off waves of dinosaurs, with each wave getting progressively harder. Furthermore, upon completion, or your death depending on how long you last, you are ranked depending on your performance. Sounds like an achievement in the making! It was a neat little extra that provided several more hours of entertainment and allowed players to sharpen their extinction skills.
What should stay the same:
The Controls – The tank-like controls that the Resident Evil and Dino Crisis games made infamous should stay. Even though the control scheme has garnered much hate over the years, games like Dino Crisis were the birth place of survival horror. As far as we’re concerned if you weren’t around for the birth of the survival horror genre (and the clunky control scheme) then you haven’t truly experienced survival horror. By today’s standards the control scheme may feel a dated, but having restrictions on your actions was and still is a huge part of the tension of the game.
Regina – Let’s face it. Characters like Chris Redfield, Jill Valentine, and Albert Wesker are loved now, but at the time of Resident Evil’s release, they weren’t anything special. Regina on the other hand, is far from generic. First of all, she kills dinosaurs for a living. Second, she does so dressed like a hot biker chick with fire red hair. In today’s world of gritty protagonists, Regina is a breath of fresh air. If the Dino Crisis franchise ever makes a comeback (which it should) it needs to center around Regina.
Inventory & ammo variety – Another concept that has lost luster in today’s gaming world is inventory management. An integral part of early survival horror games comes from a simple concept; You can only carry so much. What you carry is up to you but you’re literally fighting for your survival. Do you carry lots of firepower and ammunition, but cut yourself low on health supplies? Do you carry a little less ammo, and bring more supplies to heal yourself? These small decisions enhance the sense of urgency and nervousness you get from playing survival horror games. When you look to your inventory and you realize you’re on your last clip, you get a sinking feeling and your palms start to sweat. Can you actually make it by whatever lies ahead with just eight bullets? Managing your inventory may sound tedious, but it’s an important aspect of keeping the player on edge.
Why it would succeed:
The survival horror genre is currently relatively untapped on Xbox Live Arcade. While we love the crazy and stylized games that are often delivered on XBLA, there’s room for a good old fashioned horror experience like Dino Crisis. Couple the main game with some arcade style extras like Dino Colosseum and Capcom would be well on their way to a digital download success. Whether you’d be diving into Dino Crisis for a nostalgic fight for survival or your first taste of terror, playing this game on Xbox 360 would be well worth an XBLA fan’s time.