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What's it about?
Imagine video game executives sitting around a table, making pitches. One says, How about Pokemon meets dinosaurs? And the crowd goes wild! As the latest riff on Pokemon-style game play, DINOSAUR KING tells the story of TV cartoon heroes Max and Rex as they traverse the globe to collect and trade over 100 dinosaurs with 240 special moves. Oh, they also save the world from the evil Alpha Gang, who have stolen a DinoShot, a fancy gadget that brings dinosaurs to life.
Basically, the game is a save-the-world RPG that uses collectible dinosaur cards to fight against other dinosaurs. You use the touch screen to pit dinosaur versus dinosaur in a Rock-Paper-Scissor-type game, with the ensuing bloodless battle shown in nice detail on the top screen. The game has one terrific twist on the old collect 'em all premise that is Pokemon's trademark. By scratching the screen with your stylus, you mimic digging and uncover dinosaur fossils. You even blow lightly into the DS mic to rid the bones of dust, a fun touch that's somehow realistic.
Is it any good?
As you move from country to country to collect dinosaurs, you talk to fearful folk who've been dealing with nasty dinosaurs wreaking havoc. Then you use a good dinosaur you've collected to fight the reptile that's causing trouble. But this concept becomes dull after a while as do the admittedly detailed and life-like animations in the top screen.
Dinosaur King has some true positives going for it: well-rounded characters with personality, triumphant trumpets sounding your kingliness and the aforementioned ability to dig fossils. Plus, you can play wirelessly against folks who have another DS and via a WiFi connection. But it's just too much like Pokemon to make it seem completely new. Plus, you have to do your own saving constantly, which is a royal pain. The Dinosaur Encyclopedia just doesn't have enough interesting dino facts to warrant the name. Finally, you wish the battle system had a bit more variety and nuance to it.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about what it would be like to use dinosaurs to save the world. Which prehistoric beast would you use to help the world out of a jam? Could you use a dinosaur around the house to help you with your chores? Which one? Would a dinosaur make a good pet? Why? Why not?
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