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The SNK Minis run on one of the most outdated game design paradigms, that really didn’t age well.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.