Sunday, May 18, 2014

Jurassic Park III: Island Survival Game by Milton Bradley (2001)

Game description

Choose to ATTACK or prepare to FIGHT BACK!

Decide who you will control, the humans or the dinosaurs. Then battle in 5 dangerous action sequences.

Human players — Your goal is to move quickly across the island and get to the beach… alive! Each action sequence has a different breed of dinosaurs – just waiting to eat you alive! If a dinosaur catches you – get ready for the battle of your life! If you’re the first player to escape the island – you win!

Dinosaur players must stop the humans dead in their tracks before they can escape the island! Anytime a human enters an action sequence a new dinosaur comes alive and the chase begins! Catch the humans and attack! CHOMP! CLAW! GNAW! SLASH! Defeat all the humans before they escape the island and win!

*Cover image from BoardGameGeek.

My thoughts

I never had any intention of picking up this JPIII board game, but when I stumbled across it on eBay for a very low price, I shrugged and said “What the heck.” The game had a colorful board and plastic dinosaur figures, so maybe it would surprise me.

JPIII: Island Survival Game is at its heart a roll-and-move game – you role a die and move your pieces along the board the same number of spaces as the result. That said, it has some features that make it different from your average Chutes and Ladders clone. First, it comes with special dice that have an unevenly distributed set of numbers on them. Second, one player controls the dinosaurs, and it is that person’s job to try to eat the other players’ human pawns. Finally, players can take alternate paths on the game board, so it isn’t necessarily a straight-line race to the finish (although there is only one finish line).

The goal of the game is for the human players to get from one end of the board to the other without becoming dino chow. The board is divided into five sections, each representing a different scene from the movie. Different species of dinosaurs are confined to different sections, but unlike the humans who can move freely, the dinos can’t die. On a human player’s turn, the person rolls one die and moves one of his or her pawns the same number of spaces. If the player rolls a “3 GROUP,” then he or she can move all the human pawns on the same space three paces, including pawns belonging to other players. Certain spaces have “DRAW CARD” written on them, so when a players lands on that space, he or she draws a card and follows the instructions on it.

The dinosaur player moves between each of the human players’ turns. Dinosaurs have their own special die that determine movement. When a dinosaur lands on a space occupied by a human character, they must battle by each rolling a special die. Humans have a 50-50 chance of escape: If they roll “ESCAPE” on their battle die, then they move as many spaces away from the dinosaur as indicated by the die. If they fail to escape, then they take damage equal to the amount of damage indicated on the dinosaur die. Each character has a set amount of “life chips” at the start of the game, and if those run out… well, then the dinosaurs won’t go home hungry.

JPIII isn’t a particularly deep game but it does a good job of recreating the movie experience while remaining accessible to younger players. The biggest letdown was the components – the plastic dinosaur figures were nice, but the board is printed on thin cardboard and the human pawns are cardboard standees. I also would argue the game is a bit unbalanced given the human players have an advantage over the dinosaur player. That said, it is a fun little game that plays relatively quickly. If I had a choice between this game and getting stuck in a never-ending game of Monopoly, I would definitely pick JPIII.


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