Jurassic Arena review: Dinosaurs fight to the death on our Windows Phone

Long ago, the gods of Olympus gave the world a dinosaur-themed fighting game called Primal Rage. Sadly, we lowly humans were not ready for its awesomeness, and so the creators never bestowed us with a sequel. There may have been a great flood in there somewhere too.

Still, humanity never forgot how cool it was to put two dinosaurs into a ring and make them duke it out. And so an indie developer named Gluten Free Games has taken up the torch to make a new dinosaur fighting game for Windows Phone called Jurassic Arena. It’s nowhere as good as Primal Rage, but it does have 10 dinosaurs, and it’s completely free (for now). Head past the break for our full review with video.

Ten dinosaur duelists

Jurassic Arena consists of one single-player mode right now: Arcade. The Virtual pets menu simply leads to three separate apps on the Store from the same developer. Although I wouldn’t hold my breath for multiplayer, hopefully the developer does not get eaten by raptors and lives to add another mode or two in the future.

In Arcade mode, the player can choose from ten terrible lizards to control:

  • T. Rex
  • Triceratops
  • Brontosaurus: Come on, Gluten Free! Everyone knows this creature is called the Apatosaurus nowadays.
  • Pterodactyl: Not technically a dinosaur, but still cool.
  • Velociraptor: Fun fact - the Velociraptors in the Jurassic Park movies are actually Deinonychus, not ‘raptors.
  • Spinosaurus
  • Allosaurus
  • Stegosaurus: My favorite as a kid.
  • Parasaurolophus: Try saying that three times fast!
  • Compsognathus: The tiny ‘saurs from Jurassic Park.

Although the big dinosaurs like T-Rex are larger than the small dinos like the “Compies” in the game, their height ratios are not accurate. Some creative liberties must be taken when you’re pitting a bunch of dinosaurs from different eras in a videogame death match, after all.

Brawls right out of prehistory

After choosing your own dino, you get to pick your opponent as well. Although the name “Arcade” implies a progression of fights, the Arcade mode here consists only of single fights. You fight an enemy, win or lose, and it’s either a rematch or back to the title screen. I’d suggest renaming the current mode “Quick Play” or something, and adding a real multi-match arcade mode with an ending of some sort.

Players do get to choose from five different levels to fight in: Jungle, Island, Undersea, Volcano, and Old City. All look extremely basic and unfinished; they’re probably public domain 3D environments.

As for the combat, it’s pretty basic. You can move up, down, left, or right using a diamond-shaped virtual d-pad. Dinosaurs have full X and Y movement within the environment, so up and down don’t jump or duck. There is no jumping or flying, sadly. Why put the Pterodactyl in only to keep him grounded?

The dinos have four basic attack buttons: Head Butt, Quick Bite, Roar, and Dash Attack. You can also block, but it’s hardly necessary when wailing on the attack buttons pretty much guarantees a win. Multiple difficulty levels would be a good idea.

The fighting feels good enough for a free game made by a single dude, but it lacks excitement and flair. Fighting games need special moves and throws. Let a dinosaur grab another in its mouth and toss it, or perhaps the Pterodactyl could dive-bomb opponents. Give us some excitement.

It all comes down to Chaos Theory

Jurassic Arena is definitely a good idea for a game. The only thing better than dinosaurs is dinosaurs getting it on, I mean fighting each other. And the models of the dinosaurs in this game are halfway decent, so that’s something. The game just needs a proper single-player structure and some special moves before I’d call it ready for primetime. The developer also needs to take out the random camera swings; the camera should never swing back and forth like that for any reason.

Supposedly the game will switch from being free to a paid app after a while. If that’s the plan, Gluten Free has a bunch of tightening up to do before it happens. Let’s not tempt the wrath of Thor!

  • Jurassic Arena – Windows Phone 8 – 46 MB – Free – Store Link

Paul Acevedo

Paul Acevedo is the Games Editor at Windows Central. A lifelong gamer, he has written about videogames for over 15 years and reviewed over 350 games for our site. Follow him on Twitter @PaulRAcevedo. Don’t hate. Appreciate!