Bring democracy to the dinosaurs
by Tibe (2012)
Neo Geo owners and shoot 'em up fevers probably know about Yumekobo's Prehistoric Isle 2. But few might have experienced in the arcades the first Prehistoric Isle, produced by SNK in 1989. This is a serious mistake, which must be repaired! If you liked the gore, kitsch and shifted atmosphere of the little brother, you'll love P.I in 1930. Furthermore, for the ones who lived his childhood during the seventies or the eighties, this game might bring back great memories. If like me, you were watching dinosaurs or monsters movies featuring incredible special effects, then you'll go back in time by playing this soft. The action takes place in the Bermuda Triangle. Many disappearances of aircrafts and vessels have been reported lately. Elite pilots of the army were dispatched in this area to investigate...
Then, the military sent there realize that an island in this area is infested with dinosaurs, that incredibly survived for millions of years in this area with no one finding them (or came back alive to tell) before. Instead of reporting their discovery to scientists - that would have been totally ridiculous - our pilot heroes immediatly proceed to exterminate all the creatures. After all, when you make such a discovery, it' s the first thing that comes to mind! Here you are, taking control of superb bi-planes (don't forget we are in 1930) and going on the hunt for dinosaurs. First look, the game is beautiful! Natural backgrounds are well crafted, inventive, and above all varied. The scrollings, mostly horizontal, sometimes becomes vertical, and even diagonal in some areas. With its originality and variety, Prehistoric Isle promises fun and surprises at first sight. And indeed, how many (good) surprises! The enemy bestiary is impressive by its variety and graphic quality. The aircrafts' animations are smooth and fast enough... once you picked up a speed up item, my friend!
Speed up, power up, these are the two main bonuses that you can get in the game (plus a pretty rare "Full power up") and those they enhance your flight on eight firepower levels. The first power up picked provides you a combat module (like in R-Type) that can be placed where you want all around the plane. Next power up picked improve the power of your shots, and it's not luxury. Another bonus, the $ is there to boost your score and possibly have you get a 1UP! A simple gameplay, obviously way less revolutionary than R-Type, but quite pleasant for those who love shooters which are a little more 'roots'. Besides, the difficulty that looks reasonable in the first stage, tends to turn in a real beat in the advanced levels. Beginner players, go your way! Here, in Prehistoric Isle, 'Pro players' are eaten by T-Rex for breakfast. Seriously, a one-credit clear seems possible, but beware... cat reflexes, anticipation and nerves of steel will be required. "Old-school" gameplay, "old-school" difficulty, but a good-looking realization and design! The game runs on a hardware that could be the forerunner of the Neo Geo, with the same processors, but using a lower resolution (256x224) and only 1024 colors on a 8-megs memory (only).
However, for a 1989 shooting game, the graphics are looking awesome. The stage under water is incredibly beautiful, and some Bosses are downright impressive ! The animation is even more surprising, with the plane featuring very smooth displacements, the enemies moving quickly with a lot of animation steps, and Bosses that are incredibly bold and well animated. It's the real deal, nothing more to say, with sound effects and music that are attuned to complete the picture. Great ideas which appeared in this game will be taken back years later, as for example the announcements of the Bosses before they arrive, the life bar, and some enemy sprites that are absolutely gorgeous. Let's be clear, there are not light-years away for this game could have run on the Neo Geo (including 40 extra megs for the cartridge). The realization is excellent, the shifted atmosphere worthy of a Japanese fiftie's junk movie, and the gameplay should probably please any fan of old-school shoot them up.
|Giant Bosses, detailed graphics, enemies and sets varied and colourful: good!|
|No slowdowns to report, despite numerous enemies simultaneously on the screen! Animation is surprisingly smooth for a game of this age, a true benchmark.|
|Excellent sound effects, deafening cries of dinos and epic musical themes, which probably inspired PI2.|
|A dozen of Bosses to beat, long and varied levels and a tremendous difficulty... Fortunately infinite credits are available. A big challenge awaits you for the 1CC!|
|Simple but good: evolutive fire, shooting and protective unit, speed up... Easy to handle, the game is pleasant but difficult: the plane is big, and enemies numerous and aggressives. For expert pilots only!|
|Providing premium realization in 1989 and a remarkable originality, Prehistoric Isle is a nice Shoot them Up, to book for advanced players!|
SAME ON THE NEO?
How not to speak about Prehistoric Isle 2, PI in 1930's sublime second episode? Released ten years after, the sequel programmed by the Yumekobo team (Blazing Star) takes back dinosaurs and natural landscapes, but features a quite different gameplay. Use of weapons is more simple and combos area appearing in the scoring system.