Dino Island is a sim-management game from French company Monte Cristo, which lets you build and manage your own dinosaur theme park.
It doesn't sound too original when compared to titles like Theme Park and the recent Zoo Tycoon expansion pack Dinosaur Digs, however Dino Island offers many great features.
Graphically, the game excels in comparison to many others in its category. The graphics are fun and cartoon-like, similar to Theme Park World (Sim Theme Park).
The zoom is powerful allowing you to zoom right up close to an object in your park, and right far out so you can see a full bird-eye-view. At full zoom, the player can see what it is like to walk around the park. The only down side is that close up, object can become blocky and can lose detail.
You can also rotate 360 degrees so you can see your dino park from all angles. Although far from stunning, the 3D graphics are fun and attractive.
The African and Jamaican style music accompanies the game well. It is nice background music that doesn't take over the game too much. The sound of birds and tropical creatures help to make you feel like you are building your park on a real island. You may also hear the visitors talking and you may be able to tell from this whether they are enjoying your park or not.
There are two main gameplay modes. You can play campaigns with increasing difficulty or basic free mode games.
You can build your parks on a number of different islands. It shouldn't matter which one you choose too much as they all have a fair amount of space and a basic layout, but the range to choose from does add a bit of variation to the game.
There are serveral rides and attractions to keep your guests happy, although none of these are particularly stunning or original. Rides include the haunted house and Ferris wheel, plus there a variety of different shops and stalls to satisfy the needs of your visitors. However, what really grabs their attention is the dinos.
There are 20 species of dinosaurs including the Stegosaurus, T-Rex and Dipladocus. You can cross the dinosaurs in your lab, to create your own brand new dinos. Your new dinosaurs can then either be stored in the cooler or placed in to an enclosure. With the opportunity to keep crossing dinosaurs and creating hybrids, the possibilities are endless and this feature should never get boring. In the lab, you can also clone dinosaurs and edit the genes of your dinos to change certain features.
You must care for your dinosaurs by providing them with food and a suitable enclosure. Different dinosaurs will have different diets, ranging from flowers to ostriches to pigs to cows. By building a farm and choosing a suitable number of employees your dinosaurs can be fed their meals at a chosen time of day.
You can get to know each of the dinosaurs' personalities. There are over 250 cartoon animations that add to the game's charm. For example, when a dinosaur wins a race in a show, it may jump up and do a somersault.
You can put on a variety of dinosaur shows for your park visitors. These include races, dinosaur fights and destruction shows where dinosaurs attempt to destroy items such as cars. As well as making your own customizable shows, you can also choose from a variety of pre-made ones. The dinosaurs in your park are the stars of the shows.
The game is fairly easy to get used to, and fans of similar tycoon/management games will be familiar with this type of gameplay. Although the gameplay is fairly similar to other strategy titles, especially Theme Park World (Sim Theme Park), some new features can be tricky at first, like putting on your own dinosaur shows, and the manual isn't much help here. Luckily, the first campaign game is a tutorial for basic gameplay. This takes you through all the important areas of the game like building enclosures and cross breeding dinosaurs.
As well as a variety of dinosaurs, there are also many different visitors which come to your parks. These include scientists, surfers, kids and parents, each with their own preferences.
Like many other titles in its category, to fully appreciate the game you have to spend a fair amount of time getting to grips with the controls and all the game has to offer.
Dino Island is a game that is suitable for all types of people. Kids will enjoy the fun cartoon-like graphics and gameplay, and there is also enough variation to keep adults playing for along time too. It is also worth checking out if you are a fan of sim-management games such as titles in the Tycoon series.