Disney's Dinosaur has a bit controversial history for UK Disneyphiles. Everywhere else in the world it is officially Disney's 39th animated classic. Over here it is omitted entirely, which is rather bizarre. There is speculation that they didn't want this 2000 computer animated movie (the first for the Walt Disney Animation Studios) to confuse audiences with Pixar's output while also not taking away from the two other traditionally animated movies that year in the classics line - Fantasia 2000 and The Emperor's New Groove. It's not like it was different in every other territory though.
This had a knock on effect for the studio's first big movie in the 2010s, when Tangled was to be promoted as Disney's 50th classic. Instead of retconning the line up to match up with the rest of the world, Disney UK instead gave The Wild - a 2006 movie animated by the Canadian company C.O.R.E. - Disney classic status. It's not a great movie, but that's a topic for another day. We're here to talk about Disney's Dinosaur: Activity Centre - definite proof of its classic status.
Dependably top-notch animation aside, the presentation in Dinosaur is rather minimal. Most other Activity Centres had maps or scenes as their menus, but here there is but a single image linking to the five mini-games. What it lacks in immersion, it makes up for in the well-implemented games it has, one being rather unique for the series.
Matching comes in two forms: Lemur Love Match & Styracosaurus Spelunker.
The former is pretty basic but the latter offers some nice puzzling gameplay.
First there's the matching game titled 'Lemur Love Match'. Flowers hang down from the branches of a tree, their petals randomly opening and closing sometimes swapping their colours just to mess with you. Match two identical blooms so your Madagascan primate can mate. The usual kid's stuff.
There's another matching game on the disc too. 'Styracosaurus Spelunker' (say that three times fast) adds some breakout mechanics to the mix as well. The aim is to hit the numbered blocks so three matching tiles aligned disappear. Remove them all (or enough so that no 3 block stand in a row) and you progress to the next level, of which there are a commendable 100 in total.
The ball is controlled with the arrow keys which you can manipulate horizontally as mid-flight. There are special 'ray of light' blocks which can be any number but with no real way to lose the game, (there's no time limit or deadly pit holes) they're not as exciting as they might seem. A basic puzzler that's more than worth it for the Dinosaur obsessed children in the family.
You can design your own dinosaur from many different parts. You can
even assign sounds and images that will determine it's personality.
Every Activity Centre has its own drawing program, but Dinosaur doesn't. Instead, the sole creative element is a dinosaur creator where you can create your own Frankenstein's creature of a dino. It doesn't stop there. Once you've created a beast, it will create a puzzle and short sentence of a story for it. It gets very silly at times, no doubt coaxing out some guffaws from children and adults alike.
For anyone who remembers killing time in school by playing a game called Squares in their Maths exercise books, there's a similar version here. Called 'Iguanodon Pond-a-thon', you have to navigate your dino around a grid to form ponds. The one with the most ponds once the time limit runs out wins. There are 50 levels in total with the grid gradually increasing its size and rocks blocking the way giving it an extra element of strategy. If you walk over a line you've already crossed it will also disappear again increasing the difficulty a little bit. A nice addition to an old game.
Iguanodon Pond-a-thon and Colossal Fossil Face Off are a new take on old formulas.
The latter has enough going for it to make it relatively unique all on its own.
Lastly, there's 'Colossal Fossil Face Off', a chess variant with enough going for it that it could very well be its own game. Herbivores are pitted against carnivores in a battle to find an egg. Those troublesome carnies have stolen an egg from the herd and want more. It has been hidden randomly behind an opponent's of whom you have to defeat. Some dinos are stronger than others so beware. Not only that, but each team have a number of other attributes to assign to their troops, making them tougher. It's not always clear which dinos are stronger than the others so that adds some unnecessary trial and error to what should be an entirely strategic game. It's the most unique, difficult and time-consuming game of any Activity Centre and for that alone is worthy of some applause, yet I can't help but feel it's a little underbaked. It's at least worth a play with friends.
Despite some basic presentation, Dinosaur is actually one of the best in the series. There's some surprising depth to some of the mini-games that make it more than just a simple diversion. Well worth the time, whether you consider it a Disney Classic or not.
To download the game, follow the link below. This exclusive installer uses PCem running Windows '95. Press Ctrl-Alt-PgDown to toggle fullscreen. Press Ctrl-End or middle mouse button to release the mouse. Tested on Windows 10.
IMPORTANT - Remember to shut down the emulated version of Windows before exiting PCem. This could potentially result in errors, lost saves and corrupt data. Close the program only when it is safe to do so.
File Size: 584 Mb. Install Size: 832 Mb. Need help? Consult the Collection Chamber FAQ
Disney's Dinosaur: Activity Centre is © Disney Interactive
Review, Cover Design and Installer created by me