Theme and What is it?

“We were so busy thinking about if we could, we didn’t bother to think about if we should.” We posted this on Twitter and Instagram the other day. It is a quote from a movie you may have heard of, Jurassic Park. 

Dinosaur Island is a clone of the movie in a board game format. The entire game is tongue in cheek, and you should be ready for a healthy/heavy dose of nostalgia. If you have not played a Jurassic Park board game, it is because until recently, such a game didn’t exist. 

Now it does, and now there is another that was funded late last year. Apparently, dinosaur parks were and are, all the rage.

Gameplay Mechanics

The game has 5 distinct phase; 1. dice drafting (research phase), 2. card drafting (market phase), 3. worker placement (worker phase), 4. economic scoring phase (park phase), 5. resetting for the next round (cleanup phase).

Each of these phases are a “different” game, but they do play quickly, and are arer integral to the overall goal of building the coolest “Dinosaur Island”, and as such, it’s just dinosaurs, WHAT COULD GO WRONG?

Initial Impressions

The game is super colorful, in a 60’s overly Easter psychedelic sort of way. 

This is not a bad thing, just a bit overwhelming initially. I really enjoy the coloring, and great dinosaur meeples. The T-Rex, as it should be, would have an incredibly hard time eating salad with a fork. 

The dice are big chunky dice, a favorite of mine in games that have any dice.  They do what they need to do, which is convey the story of doing research with your scientists.

Just looking at this game, it feels so heavy, and this may not be a fair classification of the game.

Game Build Quality

The box is heavy, and with the deluxe version consisting of heavy coins, I think the obverall weight is nearly 733 pounds. I may be exaggerating a little bit, but not much. This is a beefy box, and should be handled with care. Our group loves this game, but we have yet to find the ideal way to put it away. It almost needs another inch to the size of the box to be less unwieldy to put away. 

The pieces, dice, and scientists in the deluxe version are great. We are really glad we splurged on the deluxe. Our preference is that deluxe  exists alongside the regular version, if only because the deluxe is so satisfying to play with.

Artistic Direction

The coloring of Dinosaur Island is just the beginning. The game pieces are all designed to evoke a park in the modern era, featuring animals from the jurassic period. 

The dinosaurs are all plastic “mini’s” that evoke the shape of the dinosaur in silhouette form. The dice evoke amber, even though no one I have spoke to notices it. 

The directions have little snippets from the movie series, that are recognizable if you are looking for them. The artists have spent so much time remembering the minutia from the movie, that they have taken the art and made it their own. The coloring has become such a strong part of the game, as the coloring was such a strong part of the movies for which the game takes it’s inspiration. 

I still remember the color of the cars from the original Jurassic Park. Now, though utilizing an entirely different color palette, I feel tied to the game in much the same way, through choice of color.

Fun Factor

If you like dinosaurs, having your family members eaten by said dinosaurs, a hooligan or two, and big chunky dice, for big chunky choices, you may very much like Dinosaur Island, I did.

This game is a fun foray into my youth, and feels the way I imagine the game should feel. 

Age Range & Weight

The age range suggest 10+. I would generally say this is accurate. It will take some patience to play, and although there is no content I have seen that feels “gross” like parts of the movie series for which this draws inspiration, having visitors eaten by dinosaurs, is at the very least a more mature subject than I would want to put in front of someone younger.

The weight of the game for an adult is not overly meaty, as the game does a great job of keeping each aspect of play separate. The strategy is maybe a bit heavier, but is not difficult for any adult with even a modicum of board game experience.

Conclusions

Some games make me glow in the way I write their review. Dinosaur Island is one of these. We have gotten a few plays of it, and the plot twists, and objectives changing, gives you enough fresh scenery that it should get a bunch of table time over the next several years. 

I think Pandasaurus may have hit their stride with Dinosaur Island. It to me, is their most “complete” game to date. It gives me the elements I search for in games. This would be such an easy game to license to the movie franchise, it is already built to evoke the same emotions. I hope however, that Pandasaurus does not do that. They have a hit based on their own imagination, and this needs not be tied to anything else. I am very interested in what comes next, as Dinosaur Island has made it’s way to my top shelf, and Pandasaurus now has IP that deserves another spin. 

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