Adventures of blah blah was “inspired” by a lot of other games. It is essentially a top-down shooter set in prehistoric times that has you killing dinosaurs. How come nobody ever changes the top-down shooter formula? I want to make a game where you’re a first-aid officer with a stack of adrenaline hypos. Dead monsters will rush down from the top of the screen and you’ll bring them back to life by shooting them.
Adventures is hard, as is typical for games in the 80s. You can only have so much game on a NES cart, so developers compensated by designing games that killed you like their name is Inigo Montoya. Die, restart, die, restart. Welcome to Dino-Riki. The punitive level of difficulty is made worse by assorted lovely design decisions, like how you lose all your weapons and powerups when you die. No frustration there, guys.
My enthusiasm for The Adventures of Dino-Riki is just flowing off the page, so the question remains: why do I still play it? I got it on an (illegal) NES compilation cart more than 10 years ago and when that died I started playing a ROM. It’s annoying and unoriginal, but this game just doesn’t let go of me.
It has a few positive qualities. For one, it’s not set in space. Instead of boring starry backgrounds you get actual environments with trees and bushes. You aren’t getting attacked by random phallic shapes but by recognisable creatures. Certain things make immediate logical sense. If you fall into a hole, you die. To compare, it was never clear to me why some objects in Star Force killed me while others didn’t. The controls in Dino-Riki feel tight and responsive (mostly, fuck you if you’re trying to fly). Some things take getting used to, such as the screen scrolling forward at a certain rate, but get used to it you will. The boss fights are awesome. Laying down an extinction level event on a T-rex is fun no matter the game, whether it’s Turok or Tomb Raider or this one.
In short, Adventures is a typical Hudson Soft game. Screamingly unoriginal, and it charms and frustrates in equal measure. There’s moments where the game comes together and it becomes fun, then there’s all these moronic, inexplicable ideas that serve no purpose other than to cultivate in you a deep dislike of the game industry. How come your shots are blocked by vegetation, while enemies can shoot you through anything? How come you have to hold down the X button constantly to fly (even though you might be in the air for as long as five minutes?) How come your character has the faggiest death animation in documented history? He looks like he’s having a seizure.
You could never call Dino Rikki a classic, and as far as I’m concerned it barely makes it to “decent game” status. Despite this, I can’t bash it too much. The NES catalogue is a refuse bin of horrible games and this one is actually fairly decent.