Dino Run DX is a side-scroller that has been around for many years, previously known as Dino Run (Escape Extinction). Dino Run started as one of the most popular browser games of all time with 100 million plays logged online. The game was developed by PixelJAM back in 2008, where the studio was fresh from the success of ‘Gamma Bros’ – a game nominated for “Best Web Browser Game” in the 2007 Independent Games Festival. Dino Run DX establishes unique simplistic pixel art as the 8-bit sound design brings a nostalgic sense of presence to players. Released on steam September 2015, it is the expanded and revised version of the original game, a full seven years after the original Dino Run was released.
Dino Run DX puts the player in a position of a lone Velociraptor as the world is coming to an end. Players guide the dinosaur using the arrow keys to run and jump above obstacles such as boulders or other dinosaurs. Through surviving various levels, the player is responsible for guiding the velociraptor to sanctuary away from extinction and the wall of doom that peruses the player throughout the game.
The game itself has two main modes, one which is the classic challenge; this mode acts as a main single-player mode which offers a variety of levels and one final level where you escape and survive (if you can make it!). The other mode is a speed run; in this mode players are thrown into a level where any part of the game can change from the obstacles to dinosaurs within it. This provides a fun and entertaining game experience because the gameplay allows for the players to interact with the game.
Dino Run delivers great gameplay by allowing players to explore and receive rewards for finding secrets. These rewards can be milestones that give bones, DNA or points towards the overall stats of the player’s dinosaur. Each time a player completes the default challenge mode they are rewarded with eggs, on top of the ones they have already collected throughout the levels. These eggs can increase the speed/jump of their dinosaur as bones act as a separate in-game currency which unlocks artwork, soundtrack or the previous versions of the game before it was fully finished.
While Dino Run DX uses simple mechanics such as running and jumping, the controls of the game are not only straightforward, but give a sense of satisfaction when players can successfully navigate a lava level. The mechanics never became repetitive, as the game will constantly change depending on the player’s skill. Excellent gameplay is delivered by the introduction of the doom wall, a mechanic that keeps players on-edge due to the constant menace that lurks merely seconds away and threatens to swallow the player into extinction. Dino Run also develops the gameplay around player progression – as players progress and unlock the dinosaur upgrades, they are then able to approach the higher difficulties of the game and get more rewards from it. PixelJAM even allows players the decision to use cheats and mods; however, these do not give rewards or statistics, but provide another level of fun in themselves.
Dino Run provides four difficulties, ranging from easy to insane. However, these difficulties depend on the ability of the player and the amount of time invested to upgrade their dinosaur. Those who spend the time to play the game will have an easier time completing the ‘insane’ difficulty in comparison to new players who have not begun to invest upgrades to their dinosaur.
The sound and atmosphere of the game adds to the overall theme of extinction – the music adapts depending on the environment and how close players are to death. When the whole screen changes to a dark red and the silhouette of the dinosaur emerges, the adrenaline rush in combination of the music adds to the enjoyment of the overall game. Lastly, Dino Run DX succeeds most in giving tens of hours replayability. This is because PixelJAM provides a lot of speed run levels, challenges and in-game content such as unlockable hats, upgrades and an enormous amount of statistics for the dinosaur. The awards from finding a secret t-rex egg or interacting with the free run multiplayer mode gives more value and longevity to the life time of the game.
In conclusion, Dino Run DX is a unique side-scroller that brings the simple 1980’s mechanics to modern 8-bit gaming. With such a huge range of content, customization, statistics and creativity from the developers, players will spend tens of hours escaping extinction as this prehistoric themed side-scroller delivers a unique game experience through solid mechanics, lasting content and 8-bit nostalgia.
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