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 Post subject: Prehistoric Isle (Arcade/PS3/4/Vita/PSP/Switch/PC/XB1)
PostPosted: Mon Nov 04, 2019 7:45 pm 

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Joined: 11 Oct 2008
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Location: Autobot City, Sugiura Base
Time to revisit the old school again. This time it's about Prehistoric Isle in 1930.

Life finds a way.

Originally released in 1989 on the arcades, it had its console release in the PlayStation Portable SNK Arcade Classics Vol.0 compilation, the PlayStation 3, Vita and PS4 as part of the PlayStation Mini series and recently as part of SNK 40th Anniversary Collection on PS4, Switch, XBOX One and PC, this game broke with the generic dominant themes of shmups. Back then there was two options: Science-Fiction and the present day Military. Prehistoric Isle in 1930 introduced the premise of shooting based in old times. The story tells about the mysterious plane and ship disappearings near the Bahama Islands. So, two airplanes were sent to investigate, only to discover a mysterious island that appears to be forgotten by time as the pilots are engaged in combat with dinosaurs and cavemen who were supposed to be extinct hundreds of millions of years ago. What was meant to be an investigation is now a battle for survival as the pilots are trying to uncover the truth of Greenhell Isle.

The game itself is an horizontal shooter in the style of IREM's R-Type, since it features a Force-like pod called Option (any similarities with Gradius are purely coincidentional an unintentional). The Option can best be described as a variation of the Force from R-Type as it works as both your shield and weapon at the same time. As a weapon, it features 8 weapon configurations.
TYPE A: Vertical Laser. When the Option is above your plane, it fires a plane-wide laser shot that reflects after hitting the ceiling, acting as an Anti-Air weapon. Since the pod is not in front of your plane you can fire your regular shots.
TYPE B: Fire Ball. If the Option is on the upper-right of the plane, it fires diagonal-right aimed fire balls that bounce on walls and ceilings after hitting them. Like the other 7 types, you can fire your regular bullets.
TYPE C: Fire Bullet. The initial and default Option configuration that puts the Option in front of your plane. It enhances the plane's bullets acting as the Power-Up weapon. Due to its straight fire properties, it acts as both your Anti-Air and Air-to-Ground weapons.
TYPE D: Bomb. If the Option is located on the bottom right of the plane, it drops a bomb in a diagonal angle similar to the Missile in Gradius. This is your basic Air-to-Ground weapon.
TYPE E: Vertical Laser. When the Option is placed below your ship, it will fire a the same laser as the Type A, but going down. This is the second Air-to-Ground weapon.
TYPE F: Bomb. If the player places the Option on the bottom left, it will drop a bomb in a left-aimed diagonal angle as a back shot bomb. This is the third Air-to-Ground weapon.
TYPE G: Air Mine. When the Option is placed behind the plane, it will fire a mine that explodes in mid-air, further powering up increases the explosion's width, becoming a ranged Anti-Air weapon.
TYPE H: Fire Ball. The Option in the upper left corner. Like in Type B, it will fire a ball in a diagonal left angle that bounces after hitting walls and ceilings. This is the third Anti-Air weapon.

There's other items in the game like "$" items that give you bonus points, the "S" that increases your speed and two special Option items: One covers the ship with Options while other two rotates providing a defense against dinosaur attacks, this is the temporary invincibility which can only be found in the second part of Stage 1, the other one changes the Option multi-weaponry for a special linear shot that can be aimed anywhere.

Like i said before, breaks with the monotony of science fiction or the military, and takes cues from dinosaur-related stories like Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Lost World and Edgar Rice Burroughs' The Land that Time Forgot, and with the timeline set in the 1930's, it catches the old style of those books.
While the gameplay is very evocative of R-Type, it lacks of the start back after dying that made R-Type the hard game it is. However it looks like the game features an AI system that reacts based on the player's power level 'cos the more powered up your Option is, the more aggressive the enemy will become, specially the "Popcorn" enemies. While this power-play feature is well recieved, it has a fatal flaw: The Option can be destroyed by enemy fire after a few hits. So, if you're going to play Prehistoric Isle in 1930 like if its Super R-Type or Pulstar, you'll get in trouble because the "Popcorn" dino-freaks will appear from almost every direction, and learning about the Option's weaponry is a priority because the eggs not always gives you Option/Power Ups and you might get bonus points or Speed Ups.
One of the things of this (and many other old SNK games) was being able of entering your name before the Continue countdown, which was good since you can save your score before losing it when its resetted to nothing after continuing. But if you keep playing until the end, regardless if you used continues or not, you'll automatically be in 1st place as the game gives you 1,000,000 points after defeating the Tyrannosaur at the end of the game.

The SNK 40th Anniversary Collection of this game features the option of playing both the american Prehistoric Isle in 1930 or the japanese Gen-Shi-Tou 1930's, which they're basically the same, only with language differences. Another feature of the compilation is the inclusion of the Rewind like in Megaman Legacy Collection and The Disney Afternoon Collection, which allows you to return a few seconds back if you made a mistake in your gaming session like in the Forza Horizon series. That's extremely helpful in Alpha Mission and its unfair boss battles.

The end is inevitable for one of these two. ┬┐Will the pilot or the T-Rex will head for extinction?

Graphically, it's a change from the dark tones used on games like Alpha Mission, Ikari Warriors or Guerrilla War, as the game uses a more brighter color pallette, which can be compared with that of the Sega Genesis in mid-90's games like Sonic The Hedgehog, as we've got a life-filled world with amazingly bright forests and skies. Also, its one of the first "Pre-Mortal Kombat" games that depict blood as some of the pterosaurs are torn into a small bloody mess, while some others explode like if they're machinery like your plane.

The music of the game is a mix of everything, from the adventurous pace of the forest stage, the fast paced music of the air level, or the simple-yet-mysterious underwater stages, the game throws at us an upbeat soundtrack that fits quite well on each of the game's settings.
What kind of sound made the dinosaurs will be a mystery that will be unsolved for a hell of a long time. So, in this game, they relied on Kaiju roars, most noticeably in the Allosaurs, which uses half of the Godzilla roar (taking the "OONK" out of "SKREEONK!"), however they manage to fit in almost all of the prehistoric creatures, except for the Ammonite which sounds like an alien laughter of some sorts.

- This game is the lone entry in SNK's regular arcade hardware since its sequel, Prehistoric Isle 2 was released on the Neo-Geo MVS hardware.
- It is also the only game in the Prehistoric Isle series developed by SNK, since the sequel was developed by Yumekobo and Saurus.
- It is also the lone entry in the series that featured cavemen and underwater levels.
- "Airborne" is the only inquiry/stage that lasts one single stage.
- Greenhell Isle is called Hell Island in the arcade flyers.
- If the player is caught by the sea serpents that emerge from the falling boat in the ocean stage, the sub will become the crushed biplane before exploding, this is caused by the re-use of sprites and animations from the Brachiosaurus boss.

- The size enlargement, the dragon head and horns on the Stegosaurus and the Brachiosaurus, the bizzarre appearance of the Archelon and the sauropods predatory behavior might be result of the mutations caused by the evolution in Greenhell Isle.
- The Brachiosaurus was a sauropod from the Brachiosauridae family that lived in the Late Jurassic Period 154 million years ago. Its name means "Arm Lizard". While the game depicts it as a 117ft (35.6m) long lizard, in reality it was from 18 to 23m long. The in-game measurements are closer to the Argentinosaurus which is the largest sauropod ever known.
- The Allosaurus was the apex predator of the Late Jurassic period which lived 155-145 million years ago. Unlike the 93ft (28.3m) behemoth seen in the game, in reality, the largest Allosaurus was 12m long by far while the average length was 9.5m. Its name means "Different Lizard".
- The Rhamphorhynchus was a long-tailed pterosaur that lived on the Late Jurassic period 150.8 to 148.5 million years ago. Its name means "Beak Snout". While the real Rhamphorynchus had a length of 1.26m with a wingspan of 1.81m, the In-game creature measure 100ft (30m) long, so its wingspan might be around 34m.
- The "Unknown Dinosaur" is an original creation for this game, which resembles a mutant plant of some sorts, has a length of 60m (200 feet).
- The "Ancient Coeloptera" is another original monster created for the game, while Coelopteras do exists nowadays as moths, the in-game insect resembles an armored bug with a length of 100ft (30m).
- The Archelon was the largest turtle ever known on this planet. It lived in the Late Cretaceous period 75 to 65.5 million years ago. While the Greenhell Isle specimen measures 106ft long (around 32m), in reality, the Archelon measured 4,6m. Its name means "Ancient Turtle".
- The Archelon's ability of throwing baby turtles implies the creature can reproduce through asexual reproduction, probably a result of the 64.5 million years of mutation and evolution after the end of the dinosaur era.
- The Ammonite depicted as the boss and the small enemies on the underwater levels are based on the Asteroceras, an ancient Ammonite that lived in the Devonian to the Late Cretaceous periods 406 to 66 million years ago. While the in-game boss Ammonite measures 140ft (42.6m) long, real specimens measurements vary from less than a centimeter to 2m in diameter.
- The Stegosaurus was an armored herviborous dinosaur from the Late Jurassic period that lived 155-150 million years ago. While the Greenhell Isle mutant measures 133ft (40.5m), the real one measured 9m long. Its name means "Roofed Lizard".
- The Stegosaurus will return in Prehistoric Isle 2 as the common enemy instead of a boss.
- The "hunchback" look of the Stegosaurus is based on the illustration made by Othniel Charles Marsh in 1896.

This also explains why the Dinobot Snarl looked odd in his Stegosaur mode.

- The Tyrannosaurus Rex was the apex predator of the late Cretaceous period 68-66 million years ago. It was the culmination of the Tyrannosauroidea family of theropods and one of the largest land predators in Earth's history with a length of 13-14m. In the game, this is the largest of all the dino-monsters measuring 426ft (129m), 10 times its real-world size. Its name means "King of the Tyrant Lizards".
- Before exploding, we can see the T-Rex is depicted with three fingers on its hands, the reason of this was because of the lack of knowledge about the animal. Early reconstructions like the the never-completed AMNH 973 and AMNH 5027 exhibit planned for the American Museum of Natural History by Henry Fairfield Osborn depicted both Rexes with three fingers based on the Allosaurus. The "Tripod Pose" is also based on that reconstruction. Back then the only evidence about Two-fingered T-Rexes was the Albertosaurus, a smaller member of the Tyrannosauridae. However, they were Tyrannosaurids with three fingers like the Eotyrannus, Dryptosaurus and the Yutyrannus.

Three fingered T-Rex had an institutional origin.

While the game is a classic among shooting, the ending is a letdown since your expedition team is killed off by a flock of pterosaurs, becoming the next victims of Greenhell Isle. I guess some mysteries were not meant to be solved, and the island of the surviving dinosaurs in the heart of the Bermuda Triangle is one of them. It would take 10 years to complete the saga in Prehistoric Isle 2 and put an end to the prehistoric horror and its mystery.
It only needed to get the rights of either Doyle or Burrough's works to become a game of The Lost World or The Land that Time Forgot, because that's what Prehistoric Isle feels: A game adaptation of a novel rather than an original shooter based on prehistory.
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