Duelosaur Island – Pandasaurus Games – Review

Theme and What is it?

Spiritual Successor. I know lots of people hate those words, and this is not that at all, as it is actually a direct follow-up to Dinosaur Island. However, here’s the rub…

This game feels like Dinosaur Island for two. It looks exactly like Dinosaur Island. It is however missing one of the mechanics that made me like Dinosaur Island as much as I did, and having played it, I think it was necessary to do exactly what Ian Moss did for sake of clarity. But, it still feels different enough, that there is a reason to have both games on your shelf. Thus, though I know it was a direct successor, I refuse to call it as such. For me, this is more like the Bumblebee movie to the franchise of the Transformers movie series as a whole. You know and love Bumblebee if you are a reasonable human being, but focusing on Bumblebee, doesn’t exactly make it a Transformers movie.

Gameplay Mechanics

If you have not had your head buried in the sand for the past year, you are likely to have seen the coolest dice, possibly ever. Amber dice, that you will pull DNA from, to craft your boutique dinosaur. When you are pulling DNA you may even feel like Dennis Hammond, with his using frog DNA to craft dinosaurs in that one dinosaur movie. Or, you could be Dennis Nedry, with your park cards to steal DNA from your competitor. I can still see this actor wearing the Post Office uniform.

That doesn’t tell you much about the game, apart from the fact that the DNA dice just are terribly cool. The bulk of this game is about drafting the DNA, drafting specialists and building your park with money, or DNA you have drafted. Dinosaurs build excitement, attractions and food shops build either income, or ability to draft more dinosaur cards. This functionally works similarly to the Dinosaur Island full game, but does so in a much more compact manner.

Initial Impressions

The game just looks colorful, bright, and cheery. The box is more compact than its big brother. Which is logical, and makes aesthetic sense for a “smaller” game.

The one nit-picky think about the game was the choice for the cubes. One is purple, and the other is like a drab tan. The drab tan, just doesn’t fit to me.

Beyond that my initial reaction was, I must get this to table, so I can see how it plays in comparison.

Game Build Quality

The game is built much like it’s big brother. Quality through and through, to the point of ridiculousness. I’m okay with that as a gamer though. In all fairness, I did have the Xtreme edition of Duelosaur Island, which has a few upgrades, but nothing so crazy like the coins from the original Dinosaur Island coins that have been changed since the Kickstarter version of the weapon in a bag set of pink coins that originally showed up at my door. Those were crazy.

Witha that being said, this game is solidly built, and I enjoy the build quality immensely.

Artistic Direction

The art assets are the same or similar to the original game, though the cover is obviously new.

If you have been reading our reviews at all in 2018, you have seen one name regularly with art, and that is Kwanchai Moriya. He has become pervasive, and likely is so busy, that he turns work down as often as he takes on new clients.

I am a fan of Kwanchai, and would love to see where his career progresses, and see it move in new and exciting ways.  As of now, I just love seeing his name on a box.

Fun Factor

I like games that have things that unbalance them, so that something else can re-balance them. In Duelosaur, this is done in spades with the Specialists.

Just enough take that feels good. This game has just enough.

The worry that some may have for it being a dice-chucker are largely worries that are not particularly necessary. Dice are rolled, but you get your choice of which to choose and which will give you the most victory points. Ian Moss must just be a master of fun.

Age Range & Weight

10+. In the past several months I have seen more games attempt to be accurate in their age description. This game does a stellar job. The age range, is exactly as I would describe for game usage.

I hope more manufacturers begin having two age ranges, recommended age for purposes of being a choking hazard, and the mental age range that would allow a person to enjoy the game. For me, games are not necessarily toys, though fun is had. If you are swallowing parts, or allowing your children to swallow parts, you may be doing it wrong.

Conclusions

Ian Moss and Pandasaurus used the DNA of Dinosaur Island, to create Duelosaur Island. They were smart in doing so. It created an automatic sense of nostalgia for a game that was less than a year old.

If you like two player games, and creating dinosaurs, you owe it to yourself to put this game on the top shelf, next to Dinosaur Island.