I've been a giant fan of theme park building simulators ever since the original THEME PARK came out, so I've been eagerly anticipating JURASSIC PARK III: PARK BUILDER since I first heard about it. Finally, a portable THEME PARK! It was only appropriate that I played the game while on vacation to the greatest theme park ever - Disney World.
PARK BUILDER follows in the tradition of THEME PARK with a few twists to better suit the license. The biggest difference between the games is that the major attraction is rides in THEME PARK and dinosaur habitats in PARK BUILDER. There are no different habitats, you just toss a fence up, make some dinos, and let them roam. Then you build a road around the fence so that your visitors can see all the dinosaurs they'd like.
Konami has included over 100 different species of dinosaur to add to your park. You start the game with three, and by sending excavation teams around the world you can get more amber and more dino-DNA. The biggest problem is that this DNA is frequently incomplete, so building a large collection of dinosaurs isn't easy.
After you've gotten DNA, and made eggs, you have to be very careful about the placement of dinosaurs. Obviously having dinosaurs fighting isn't a good thing, especially when you have to spend money to make more of them. A large variety of dinosaurs is paramount to your visitors' happiness.
Another important part of the park is the food and shops offered. PARK BUILDER is somewhat skimpy on this category, with only three restaurants, a hotel, and a shop. While you can control some things about these establishments, there really isn't too much happening with them. I was a tad bit disappointed with the small amount of shops offered. On the other hand, the game does offer a large variety of plants to beautify the surroundings.
The biggest problem I ran into was the AI of my bus drivers. These guys are important as they ferry customers in and out of the park, as well as to the dinosaur areas. It seemed as if I hired 4-year-olds to drive the buses. I would have liked the ability to set routes for my drivers (of course, route planning can be bad too - much of this review was conducted while trying to move back and forth from Downtown Disney).
On the technical side of things, the game screams mediocrity. The graphics are average. There are some cool little things, and some crappy things. But it's average overall. The same goes for the sound. No memorable music or sound effects; nothing bad, but nothing good. Right in the dead center of average, it's that simple.
I enjoyed my playtime with JURASSIC PARK III: PARK BUILDER. It's a pretty cool take on the genre and the dinosaur element made things a little hairy at times. This game will accompany me on many more vacations and long plane flights.
Platform: Game Boy Advance
ESBR Rating: E
Suggested Retail Price: $39.99
Fun Factor: A
Reviewer's Wild Card: A+