THE ARCHIVE 2011-2015

Arcade Games That Time Forgot: Dino Rex

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Arcade Games That Time Forgot is a feature about weird, brilliant, kooky, terrible, or just interesting arcade games. Why just arcade games? Because while arcades gave us plenty of amazing games that are now classic franchises, it wasn't unlike the PC market, where any ol' group of people could make and distribute them, and with that sort of freedom, crazy ideas had a better chance of making it through. And for better or worse, quite a few did.

Dino Rex (Taito, 1992)

We all know Street Fighter II. It burst onto the scene in 1991 and changed everybody's notion of what a "fighting game" could be, becoming one of the marquee arcade games of the decade. Naturally, lots of other game companies from all around the world saw what Capcom was accomplishing and started the early '90s wave of fighting games. We also all know about Mortal Kombat, Virtua Fighter, and the bajillion fighting games made for SNK's NeoGeo.

Taito's response to this phenomenon was Dino Rex, which at the time was pretty damn unique: an all-dinosaur fighting game based in a world where the giant reptiles inhabit the earth along with a race of tribal humans that capture and pit the beasts against each other for sport. Everybody else making a fighting game was using human martial arts masters 'n' stuff, but here was something different, and so early on, at that.

If the concept sounds familliar, it should. Atari's Primal Rage had a similar approach, featuring prehistoric creatures battling for supremacy, but it came out a few years later. And Dino Rex is no Primal Rage. The dinos themselves are made up of no more than two colors each, making the whole game easily replicable in your own home after taking a trip to Dollar Tree and grabbing any two toys that resemble dinosaurs. And considering that real dinosaurs didn't have a ton of color variation to them, some of the dinos in the game are given easily-recognizable colors. Such as the T-Rex, who was given a bright purple hue that isn't immediately hilarious in the least.

Artistic re-creation of Dino Rex character select screen

The toy comparison is apt for another reason. Imagine for a second what trying to control giant dinosaurs in a fighting game would be like. Yeah, it's not much different than clacking those cheap action figures against each other. Part of it's due to the game's poor collision detection -- landing an attack can often whiff even if you're right up against an opponent, or go the other way and keep you trapped as the other player juggles or tackles you. Even the smaller dinos feel as rigid as the bigger ones.

So, basically, Dino Rex just isn't that good, and ended up forgotten for a reason. Anyway, after you get a feel for the controls, and defeat your second opponent, you head to the next sta--

Hold on.

Wait. Wait. Seriously.

What's-- did I black out for a second?

Oh my lord.

So, basically, Dino Rex is fantastic.