Less than a month before E3 2000, Rare announced what will be its final project for the Nintendo 64 -- Dinosaur Planet. Described by the company as “one of [our] most ambitious projects to date," Dinosaur Planet follows in Rare's recent tradition of taking the concepts behind Nintendo's first party blockbusters and extending them with new gameplay mechanics and a more in-depth story.

Foxy lady... (waaaaaah waaaah)
Extremely purty environments

    In this case, Dinosaur Planet builds upon many of the third-person adventure elements pioneered by The Legend of Zelda: Ocarina of Time. Rather than having Link battling against Ganon, however, Rare has opted to follow the adventures of Sabre and Krystal, best described as two anthropomorphic foxes. Each has a separate adventure in store and a dinosaur sidekick that can accept specific commands and assist their hero in battle.

    Animal protagonists aside, the game immediately comes across as more serious and dramatic than one might expect. The first scene, which the E3 demo dubbed Galleon Battle, places Krystal on the back of her sidekick, a "pterodactyl princess named Kyte." Flying through a rainstorm, they are quickly overtaken by a gigantic and distinctly evil ship while the ship's rear mounted guns begin blasting fireballs at the pair. After taking out the guns and the ship's propeller with their own blue projectiles, Krystal and Kyte board the galleon and encounter the game's scaly, green, and as-of-yet-unnamed villain.

    While the expansion pak-mandatory graphics are certainly impressive, by far the most outstanding element of the game thus far is the sound. Even a loud show floor couldn't obscure the huge amounts of speech included in the game, all decently voice acted; nor could it cover an epic soundtrack that plays off jungle rhythms for atmosphere even better than the acclaimed music from the original Turok. The excellent use of Dolby Surround Sound promised here should be a treat to listen to outside of the din of E3.

 He's a fox, AV.  Look at his damned head!
I'm tougher than that elf guy, right...?

    The battle system was "early" according to one Nintendo tester, and while it promises to be quite comprehensive, the next few months will certainly be used for tweaking. Krystal's spear and Sabre's sword were difficult to use smoothly and seemed weak, as average enemies took a huge number of strikes to defeat. Together, these made challenging the demo's two massive bosses a next-to-impossible task. Other basic elements of the fighting system felt more solid, with the up C button going into first person view, right C using different objects, down C bringing up magic spells, and left C commanding your sidekick.

    The "sidekicks" portion of the demo allowed for use of Sabre's small triceratops friend Tricky, but calling him over was still somewhat difficult, and he didn't do anything of note once called. The other sidekick, the pterodactyl Kyte, boasted such abilities as setting Krystal's spear on fire and dive-bombing opponents. The game also sports a Z-targeting system similar to Zelda's, including the same side step and back-flip moves. The forward flip was not an attack, however, rendering it fairly useless and leaving gamers without the most powerful of the melee moves found in Ocarina of Time.

   Dinosaur Planet certainly has the potential to be a blockbuster adventure title, and Rare certainly has the track record to bring all these elements together into a memorable game. With Rare already having four games set for release in the last half of 2000, Dinosaur Planet has been given no firm release date as of yet. Look for it this holiday season, with a possible delay to early next year.

Preview by Ed McGlothin, GIA.
Dinosaur Planet
Developer Rare
Publisher Rare
Genre Adventure
Medium Cartridge
Platform Nintendo 64
Release Date  Unknown
E3: Dinosaur Planet impressions
Early gameplay footage
Krystal wallpaper