Prehistoric Isle in 1930 Review—Best I’ve Ever Had


Depending on your age, forgive me for using a Vertical Horizon/Drake song as a review subtitle. Still, Prehistoric Isle in 1930 is for the much older players to reminisce with. I am a 90s person, but I do have greater knowledge of the NES era and, to some extent, its arcade precursors. This particular arcade game was part of my early life in gaming.

I believe that most people who are into gaming have been able to experience this game, as this is widely available on every platform imaginable. This is probably one of the most emulated games out there. Oh, SNAP! I was actually referring to R-Type!

It can be safely assumed that Prehistoric Isle in 1930 is R-Type during the Great Depression. According to multiple references on the Internet (as I am kinda slow in getting the plot of games because I jump to the action immediately; everything else is just blabber), the story follows two recon biplanes sent by the government to investigate the mysterious Bermuda Triangle, where several ships have somehow gotten lost and have never come back. Entering the uncharted territories, the two planes encounter dinosaurs and other bizarre life forms, including cavemen as huge as your planes themselves. Sadly, in this rendition of Prehistoric Isle in 1930, you can only have a one-plane experience. Well, same with the rest of the SNK Minis lineup.


The SNK Minis run on one of the most outdated game design paradigms, that really didn’t age well. These arcade games are out there to grab your every penny, and they are not shy about it. This arcade classic, however, is more on the sane side. It actually takes into account your skills and strategies as opposed to reaching down into the depths of your pocket and turning it inside out.

Prehistoric Isle in 1930′s main feature is the side weapon (pod) that you can rotate around your plane. Although you can only rotate the said pod in a clockwise direction, it adds a lot in the gameplay department by offering different shot types via different firing angles. Not just that, this arcade classic is very much well designed both in the AI scripting department and environmental hurdles that you can crash into; you really have to make the most of your pod.

There’s nothing much to complain about with this game, since the controls are responsive, though not perfect. There’s really a difference when you are playing with a joystick compared to a wobbly analog nub, though I can’t speak for those who own a PS3, as I don’t own one. I won’t share how the controls are mapped, since players who would buy this game would certainly change the controls right away.

The graphics are more than great, benefiting from highly contrasting colors and detailed game art. The music is just about average, and so are the sound effects. The level design is the one to behold here. The boss fights are extremely varied, requiring different strategies to implement in order for you to defeat them with fewer than 50 credits. There are mini-bosses, too. The side-scrolling also occasionally shifts into pseudo-vertical scrolling. The enemy variants are aplenty as well. Every single stage is different from the next; it’s a brand new experience each time. There are also strategies to employ if you want to finish a stage without a single scratch, but you have to try and try until you get the optimal way to traverse an entire level. Surprisingly, this game is fun to replay.

The power-ups are not that glamorous compared to those of Alpha Mission, but they are useful. It’s just speed bumps and greater damage, but still, these are useful in most of the situations.


This certainly topples Alpha Mission as my favorite SNK Mini. I’ll gladly declare that this is one of my favorites in the Minis program, though I am still disappointed with G1M2’s treatment of these classics. There are no exclusive features that would set the Minis version apart from other iterations. Yes, these re-releases are fan service. But the fans need more than just the game to be truly satisfied. However, Prehistoric Isle in 1930, regardless of whatever I’m whining about, still deserves a nine.


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9 Responses to “Prehistoric Isle in 1930 Review—Best I’ve Ever Had”
  1. manslayer911 says:

    I do believe that this is the best scoring snk mini yet. Average score for the others seem to be around a 6 or 7.

  2. Freelance says:

    This is my fave SNK Mini too. I love dinosaurs and I love biplanes so it was a win win for me. Being a SHMUP was the icing on the cake.

  3. Ofaliss says:

    Not only did you use the song title, you even said his name. Do you know how may punches to the groin you deserve for that Jasper!?

  4. G1M2 says:

    Very nice review!! It is great to see the love for the SNK PSN Minis (especially Prehistoric Isle in 1930). The review mentions wanting “exlusives” for the PSN Minis. We would love to see specific details as to what you would want to have supported…

  5. I haven’t purchased any of the SNK Mini’s for various reasons. This one I have been on the fence about getting. I may actually get this one because of this review. First I would like to know if there is an option to have this fill the screen or is it just a small box you play in? That’s one of the reason’s I don’t purchase any of them. Another reason is why purchase one of them when you can get a better deal by buying the collection (such as Metal Slug). Being too bare bones or as you say, no “exclusive features”, especially ones that would enhance game play and visual output.

  6. To give answer to G1M2’s question, I would say one would be an adhoc feature. It would be nice to have 2 planes on the screen, having someone join in with you. Maybe to be able to play your own music while you play the game. So you have something to do while you listen to your music on the go. Often times I like to just use my PSP as an mp3 player and it would be nice to have something to do while I am hearing my music.

  7. manslayer911 says:

    As mentioned in some of the comments of previously reviewed SNK minis, the inclusion of a software manual would be helpful to some players. In addition, if there were bonus features for a specific game that were a part of the original collection, it would be nice to see them make it into the minis port. For example: music, artwork, tips/tricks, etc. that r unlocked by accomplishing certain goals within the game. Such was the case with each game within Vol. 1 of the SNK Arcade Collection, as well as both of Capcom’s Classics Collections.

  8. raing3 says:

    @Thane E Ahrens: There is an option to change between “Screen Normal” and “Screen Stretched” in the pause menu. However the only difference between the 2 options seems to be that normal shows a background image and stretched seems to show a plain black background. I only have Alpha Mission though which seems to take up the full height of the screen in normal mode. I think Prehistoric Isle will stretch to a slightly bigger size while keeping the same height to width ratio.

    @G1M2: When I last checked only Guerilla War, Street Smart and Alpha Mission were available on the Australian PlayStation Store. There are others which were released in the other EU stores so may I ask what is preventing some these from being released in Australia and is there any way they could be brought to the Australian store?

    I have only bought Alpha Mission so far but releasing them as bundles would also make me more inclined to purchase them, maybe you could do 3-4 for $10 AUD (current price is 1 for $4.25 AUD) or something similar. While I’m sure that these games are great whenever I have some left over money in my PSN wallet I generally look at the minis which were designed for PSP since they generally offer better graphics and make full use of the screen.

  9. sniper712 says:

    looks like 1 more SNK port worth getting, G1M2 you guys are doing better now, let’s not lose that momentum eh???

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