The time is finally here. For those of you who have been keeping up with my reviews this is number 3 in a three game review. Three games with very similar theming/plot line and all released within the last 12 months. First up we did Jurassic world: The board game, followed by Dinogenics and finally on the table today my personal favourite Dinosaur Island. Let’s dive in and see if you feel the same as me.
In Dinosaur Island, players will have to collect DNA, research the DNA sequences of extinct dinosaur species, and then combine the ancient DNA in the correct sequence to bring these prehistoric creatures back to life. Dino cooking! All players will compete to build the most thrilling park each season, and then work to attract (and keep alive!) the most visitors each season that the park opens.
I think the best place to start has to be the rulebook. I found it to be very easy to learn from. The styling of the book is on point (though maybe a more normal font might make it easier to read) it provides good examples clearing up any questions I had before we even started the set up.Setting up the game for the very time was one of the scariest things I think anyone could imagine. Boards, meeples, dice, coins, tokens, cardboard bits everywhere. THIS BOX IS PACKED OUT. No one can accuse the makers of this game of cutting corners on the bits included. Once you have finished the set up you do feel rather silly for worrying so much as it all has a place to sit across the boards. And now you are ready to start the game.The game rounds contain 4 phases across different game boards with each board being clearly labelled with its phase number. The basic principle of the game functions as a worker placement style mechanism. You collect DNA and basic paddocks/requirements for dinosaurs in Phase 1, Phase 2 allows you to peruse the business market to buy employees, attractions, and lab upgrades for your personal park. Phase 3 is your own personal worker placement, this is played on your own board. Unlike the first two phases there will be no competition between players for spaces, certain upgrades etc. Finally Phase 4 is all about visitors and placing them in your park to maximize profits etc.Each phase moves quickly, and is easy to understand the rules, the game comes into its own (personal opinion) by not just being about building dinos. For best results in this game it is essential the players optimize your early phases to make it easier on yourself in later phases. Now that will sound like gibberish but let me explain with a small example. In my first game I failed miserably and quickly learnt that you do NOT want to spend too much money early on, because later you may need that Wonga to upgrade a paddock to draw in more guests, or more importantly pay for more security to protect those valuable meeples paying good money to enter your park etc. the perfect idea when you take on this game is to try and create some kind of strategy in your mind that you implement throughout the phases so that your workers and phases are working together towards the same goal.
The art style for this game has a very strong 90s nostalgic feel and by god I love it. I think most people would prefer a more “Jurassic park” style, However I genuinely feel that this feel will stand out and be very appealing to those who have children/young teens. These are the future of our hobby and if it means a more flashy game is what is needed to capture their attention then so be it. I do have a slight issue which is not major but I have noticed most people have seemingly had the same issue when playing, and that is the colours used for the basic DNA. The colours are so similar I found myself having to double check my actions when claiming, this more compounded by the fact that the colours on the dice are actually different from the cold storage etc.Sticking with the negativity here leads me to the dinosaur meeples, these are really, really cool looking HOWEVER it was made perfectly clear that the different shapes mean absolutely nothing. The pink coloration also detracts for me too, I love DInogenics for making carnivores & herbivores different colours, t-rex is clearly bigger that a raptor for example, there is none of that with DINO ISLAND.The cardboard pieces used are a nice thickness and the images/pictures is very clear. The game utilizes dual layered boards and they are stunning and clearly very durable. Cards are of good quality, nothing too special I would seriously consider sleeving them to ensure they last as long as the card stock, the dice are nice looking and seem to role pretty well, again it may be worth investing in a cheap mat or dice rolling bowl to just keep them in pristine condition.
Kickstarter is a modern day battle ground that is loved by people the world over, it allows the smaller man to be able bring their fantastic creations to life without the need to get bank loans and risk losing everything you ever own to never sell a single copy of your product. The downside to this site is of course there are so many people in the world that the chance your idea has not also been thought of by others is minimal and this was the case with this game, hitting the site at the same time as DINOGENICS it had fierce competition from the off. DI managed to get there product out to its backers first and seems to have had great response. The style of this game is I must admit a very “Marmite” issue. You either love it or hate it. I cannot bring my head around the decision to keep meeples all the same colour and same size as it really detracts from the game for me. I love the fact you must manage your park “back scenes” with cold storage etc. it immerses me more into the mind of the scientist making the dinos.The re-playability of the game is great, although the game is basically the same every time, the use of random dice roles for buyable DNA means you can’t always play the same strategy, the range of player goals, the fact that expansions are already available & the fact that this game comes in a wide range of game types and player amounts means more variability. For this reason this game in my opinion has far for chance of standing that test of time and seeing the table as often as possible with a much wider range of people. I said this in my dinogenics review but the cold hard fact is they all have their good and bad sides, but it is safe to say this game will have a place in my collection right alongside Dinogenics, because this game is so unique, eye catching and has just that little bit more of immersion into the science aspect. I could play this game every week but the cold fact is it’s a long game with set up so when time is short, the likely hood will be Dinogenics will be used but when an evening of dino park building is due this game will be front and centre for me.