Nostalgia is a powerful draw for a lot of people. Trying to relive the “good ole days” can sometimes occupy too much of our time. Sometimes it’s necessary though, and Minis like “Prehistoric Isle” make it easy to remember the days where your progress was measured in quarters spent, and things like plot and motivation never crossed your mind.Prehistoric Isle manages to cover the entire story of the game in its clumsy but affable title. You play as a biplane pilot in the 1930’s charged with exploring the strange disappearances happening in the Bermuda Triangle. That leads you to finding a Prehistoric Island populated by dinosaurs, strange mutations and cavemen. Although this was a classic two player game, the version here only allows for one player, meaning you’ll be facing the Triassic Period’s greatest foes all by your lonesome.
The design of this game comes out of the arcades, where peeling quarters out of childrens’ pockets was the lifeblood of the industry. You cruise through a classic 2D set up, with enemies and obstacles constantly coming at you. Death comes from a single hit, and the constant deluge of enemies assures no one lives very long, regardless of skill level. In an arcade setting, playing next to your buddy, the tension and exhilaration from survival resonates. Here, continues simply require you hitting the start button, so despite crashing dozens of times, you never lose your momentum.
What prevents Prehistoric Isle from being mind numbing and frustrating is the level design, which is actually enjoyable. During your excavations, you run across a weapons upgrade that allows you direct shots in front, below, behind or above you as your fly. This leads to some interesting levels that force you to adjust your range of fire and how you maneuver. This light tactical overlay forces quick reactions and manages to add the strategy and skill most side scrollers lack.
There is certainly a great deal of fun to be had, and the updated graphics make for a fun, colorful look, but at nearly three dollars, it’s hard to justify the cost to fun ratio. With unlimited lives, you can crush through the game in 20 minutes – less after you get used to the game -, and lack of co-op means there isn’t much of a reason to replay the game. It is absolutely a fun trip down memory lane, but unless you are craving traditional side scrolling or are a huge SNK fan, this may be a bit steep of a price.
|Unusually deep design for an arcade.|
Enjoyable nostalgia trip.
|Too easy to plow through (editor's note: That's what she said).|