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!

  • What the hell is this??? WP is on dream run when it comes to gaming....
  • Xbox handheld game console isn't in the books, says Xbox lead Phil Spencer. Windows Phone and tablets make more sense. "Maybe with controller support someday," Makes perfectly sense to me. We don't need Xbox Vita....we have Windows Phones.
  • Just randomly popping in to say: Where is Real racing 3 for Windows phone?
  • No news on RR3, nor MC 5... But this game is a pointless rubbish game... Dinosaurs on ring... Lol bad concept... Happy it wasn't accepted by humans long back..
  • For Real Racing 3, MC5 you can better tweet the developers than posting comments here. Actually I quiet like the concept of this game. Maybe because its unique, different from the bunch of most games that just copies each other.
  • Where the hell is any baseball game..please want it badly after playing on my frnds android phone
  • Why not go out and play some real baseball?
  • This brings up bad memories of my nephew watching dinosaur porn...
  • Wow thats some serious stuff dude, been there too, hang on..
  • What did i just read?
  • The answer to the galaxy. Not to be confused with the answer to the universe, 42.
  • LMAO
  • Guys I have just posted a new idea to improve windows phone please check it out and do vote for it.
  • Your link isn't getting opened
  • please try now, its working
  • Its working fine. Try again! (P.S: Using Firefox 28)
  • Voted
  • Thank you for supporting my idea, do share it with other member of the windows phone community
  • Indeed. Just PM'ed my WPC friends :)
  • I have commented in the forums to reply to your idea expressed
  • Gave 3 votes ;)
    Though you should add that those apps should load only when the screen is turned on, and should automatically leave the memory once the phone is unlocked. Or otherwise some wise people might not like your idea. (i trust MS that if they ever implement it, they'd place huge memory restrictions, but people may not vote thinking it will slow the phone down)
  • Agree. Not only will it slow down but would be a great battery killer if active all the time.
    @Leon_Fernandes: So yes, you should add that part to the suggestion!
  • @Saksham Sharma, @Gautam Kabiraj: I have added your suggestions to the post. Thanks for improving on my original idea.
  • Something that's already on Android, how original .__.
  • @milfermon I did not take the idea from android, I thought of it by myself, but the fact that it already happen to be on android is a coincidence. Why don't you try to come up with an idea that's helpful or at least (according to you) "original".
  • I don't believe in coincidences
  • What you believe is irrelevant to the topic. Your beliefs are not in question here, but the world is waiting to here your "original" idea.
  • Comical sound effects. Really? The game doesn't fit in well with the WP OS
  • its a GAME. A VIDEO GAME.
  • Yeah, that breaks it for me. Therefore I will not be installing it on my phone. 
  • What are you talking about, Derek? It's silly to expect all games to use the Metro UI.
  • I probably am pushing it but I'm just not a fan of comical sound effects.. I don't want it to use metro just make the game a bit more pleasing
  • I love dinosaurs. Something about them always gets my attention. Downloaded. Thank you dev, if you read this.
    Now I just wish Windows Phone would get Jurassic Park Builder! I have a giant park that I never touch anymore because the game isn't on Windows Phone.
  • What a surprise: not available here in Brazil...
  • Why don't you set your location to the US? You'll get all these things without having to endure Brazil's backwards approach to international commerce...
  • Shut up.
  • Urrr...what? Are you offended that I critiqued Brazil's rather backwards approach to commerce? Or offended that I suggested switching to the US store?
  • I don't do this for me, I do for a WHOLE community of brazilian WP users.
  • Fair play - good on you for fighting that battle (I said what I did on the off chance that you didn't realise that you could change store locations).
  • Great name on the Dev BTW!
  • Once again, any games that play just like Dynasty Warriors? Seriously, I love that game but would like a similar-layout game on WP8. :)
  • If I didn't know any better I'd say that someone here is a dinosaur fan. * cough*Paul Acevedo* cough*
  • Ha ha, that's why this game got reviewed. :)
  • Played it for a few minutes, and it's lame. It plays like a cheap flash game.
  • Anyone else reminded of primal rage?
  • Just wanted to say that!
  • Weird, I wonder why this story would make people think of Primal Rage.
  • It feels like the cheapest Android game, and I like dinosaurs
  • No Xbox Live, no buy.
  • You can't buy a free game. That's what free means! (Good to have you back, except for your comment being an Xbox Live complaint.)