James Gurney’s book Dinotopia (ages 8 & up)has become a CD-ROM, and in the process has lost much of its charm. The Dreamer’s Guild and Turner Interactive’s take on the story is as a strictly formulaic adventure game, although true to the source material there is absolutely no conflict or violence. Everybody lives in peace and harmony, which sets an admirable example for the kiddies but after awhile we found ourselves wishing we could use the crowbar in our toolkit to wreak some havoc on the cloyingly friendly characters that inhabit this game. Our hero Nathan has been shipwrecked; his sister is lost; as he wanders about he discovers that the island is home to some anthropomorphized dinosaurs and the human survivors of an earlier shipwreck. Your role, however, is still to find certain things in a certain order, give the right objects to the right creatures, explore ad nauseam, and master a few games along the way – pretty standard stuff. The game suffers in comparison to its own source material, which Arthur C. Clarke called “pure magic – and also a work of great wisdom.” Sure, it’s profound when a woman you meet in the game says, “Dream, but don’t become a slave to your dreams.” The problem is, you’re in the midst of searching for puppets so you can entertain the local kinder for awhile; you’re not much in the mood to sit back and meditate on the profundity of it all. Graphics are good but not breathtaking, with the program’s DOS roots showing through more blatantly than Melanie Griffith’s.
– July 1996
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