Jurassic Park III: The DNA Factor is the first of three Jurassic Park titles scheduled to hit Game Boy Advance screens this year. It should be mentioned right off the top that this particular expedition is not based on the events of the recent theatrical release, Jurassic Park III. While the film was a relatively entertaining romp through the raptor-infested jungles of Isla Sorna, the video game is an aggravating journey to say the least.
In Jurassic Park III: The DNA Factor, players take on the role of one of two characters, pilot Lori Torres or photographer Mark Hanson, passengers on a plane that has just crashed on Isla Sorna. As a result of the accident, DNA canisters have been scattered all across the island and you’ve got the unenviable task of collecting the capsules and their particles. The end result is twelve dinosaur-filled levels of side-scrolling action separated by short puzzle-based episodes.
Each level features a side-scrolling mission where the lone objective, besides avoiding getting eaten by dinosaurs, is to gather enough DNA to fill the DNA canister located at the end of each level. Once that goal is completed, you’ll be transported to a laboratory where you must piece together the DNA particles to recreate a dinosaur. Why a photographer or a pilot would be partaking in such scientific experiments is beyond me, but for the sake of the game, we’ll suspend our disbelief.
Unfortunately, the side-scrolling missions are plagued by troubled gaming elements. For starters, the levels are designed with two pathways, a foreground and a background. You can travel on or across either pathway but due to poor visual depth, it’s hard to figure out which pathway an object or dinosaur is on. You’ll have plenty of weapons and items at your disposal, including medical kits, raw meat, stun guns and bombs, but surviving the trip is easier said than done. Poor collision detection alone causes more than a few headaches, but the fact you only get one life is woeful. If you die at any stage of a particular level, including during the puzzle-based elements, you’ll have to restart from the beginning of the mission. It all makes Jurassic Park III: The DNA Factor more difficult than it should be.
The puzzle element is a nice diversion from the side-scrolling mayhem. In this part of the game, you’ll be tasked to shoot DNA particles towards a spinning DNA strand. It plays a little like a game of Asteroids. Not only do you have to inject missing DNA pieces into the string, you must do so while avoiding enemy particles that try to thwart your attempts. If your injector is hit by any of the micro-organisms, or you run out of DNA particles, it's back to square one.
Simply put, Jurassic Park III: The DNA Factor is poorly designed. The frustration brought on by the lack of lives, weak visual detail, spotty collision detection and general difficulty is just too much to overcome. Hopefully the remaining two Jurassic Park titles for the Game Boy Advance will be a little more exciting.