When I was growing up, every video game was a “kid’s game”. It felt like every game had anthropomorphic animals or brand name characters going on colourful adventures. They were the epitome of entertainment, with complex mechanics and incredible details. A lot has changed in the past 20 years though. The vast majority of video games designed for children these days feel like cash grabs, built quickly and with no love for the subject material. They’re often mechanically shallow and lack content. That’s not something I could say of any of the Outright Games produced titles I’ve had the pleasure of playing however. Whether it’s Jumanji: The Video Game, Dragons: Dawn of the New Riders, Paw Patrol: On A Roll or 2017’s Ben 10 game, they’ve been putting out games that are still favourites among my kids. That’s because they’re as mechanically sophisticated as the games being developed for adults and show a clear love for the original material. That’s a trend that continues with Gigantosaurus – The Game, developed by Wildsphere, a collectathon 3D platformer that’s surprisingly big and a whole lot of fun for kids.
I’ll be honest, Gigantosaurus is new to me (we don’t have the Disney Junior channel at home) but the youngest 2 of my kids love it because they’ve watched a lot of the show at their grandparents. If you’re like me and the TV show is a mystery, the concept is simple enough. A group of 4 tiny dinosaurs – Rocky, Tony, Mazu and Bill – are trying to get by in the pre-historic world while having fun but are always dealing with the part friendly/part predator Giganto (a massive Gigantosaurus that’s always stomping around getting into things). Each episode has a lesson to learn about friendship, teamwork, building self-confidence, etc, etc. The game follows some of these outline details but not all of them.
If you’re totally new to Gigantosaurus, like I was, this game does nothing to introduce you to what’s going on. There’s virtually no plot here beyond a framing around the game play. Beyond a hand full of soundbites, none of the game characters actually talk. The events of the game are narrated by a silky smooth voice that explains what’s going on rather than having the characters interact. There is an over arching plot but it’s mostly about following Gigantosaurus around to these different locations.
Gigantosaurus – The Game is about a pure a collectathon I’ve experienced in quite some years. Consisting of 6 open world levels – Plains, Jungle, Desert, A lake, an ice level and a volcano – there’s 100’s of pick up’s to find which you can retrieve in any order. Retrieving items is the core and almost only activity of the game. The main collectable’s are dinosaur eggs which are the progress limiting item. You’ll need to collect at least 4 of the 10 hidden around each area before progressing further. Thankfully, they emit a beam of light into the air so you can see where they are from far away and they appear on a map you can pull up in the options. There are 4 other types of collectable objectives too including giant turnips, something that the gang of Dino’s want to find to give to Giganto, and story book pages which show off concept art. The last 2 collectable types are tied together. Seeds are everywhere and act as a guide as such to the rest of the collectables. If you follow a path of these seeds, you’ll likely find another collectable at the end of them. These seeds can then be planted into pots that can be found scattered around each map to grow plants. Because the game is aiming for the younger gamer, around half of these pick up’s are placed in easy to reach places which means the game doesn’t get frustrating or progress limiting.
The games design in Gigantosaurus is an impressive mix of accessibility and complexity. The items you’re hunting for are usually hidden behind a number of obstacles, all of them 3D platforming classics. Of course there’s platforming, some of these sections posing a little challenge. The ice level has the classic lack of friction while on the ice. There’s lava flows in a hand full of levels that do exactly what you’d expect them too. There’s geyser to jump on when they’re spurting their water skyward. Ever level has a hand full of power up pick up’s too that’ll give you temporary abilities. These include springy shoes that’ll bounce you around, a flower/propeller hat which give you a double jump ability and a large flower which allow you to glide over distances. It’s all classic stuff that worked 20 years ago and still works now.
One of the cool aspects of this title is that each character has a special skill which you’ll need to use in order to collect everything. Mazu, for example, can use his technical skill to fix primitive machines. Doing so activates moving platforms blocking your path. Tiny, on the other hand, can use her Triceratops head to knock over trees to form bridges over gaps you otherwise couldn’t cross. Played in local multiplayer each player can take control of a dinosaur (but with 4 players on screen, the performance of the game does take a small hit) and they can work together to solve the platforming puzzles. In single player, a tap of the RB button swaps your character for the next.
This being a game designed for children, there’s no combat per se. Each dinosaur can do an “attack” but that’s not what they’re used for. There’s plants you can smash to release lots of seeds and a hand full of foes like scorpions who will dive under the sand they pop out of it you swing your tail at them. There’s other dangers, bee’s or dino-eating plants for example, that have to be disposed off in non-combative ways or avoided all together.
Like in the TV show, the Gigantosaurus gang of dino’s have vehicles and between each open world level, they have a race to their next destination. While these sections are in no way challenging Mario Kart for the crown, they’re a really lovely addition that adds to the diversity the game offers. With short cuts, split tracks and their own brand of collectables to find, these races, while lacking any depth – there’s no power sliding and 1 pick up which boosts speed – are still enjoyable. They’re races that have been designed for their target audience and my kids had no problem simply holding the accelerator down and steering the car along the road that’s impossible to come off of. That’s all the complexity they needed.
Visually, Gigantosaurus does an excellent job of retaining the art style of the TV show while giving it plenty of depth. This game isn’t going to win any prizes at a beauty pageant but it’s still better looking than a lot of other games in this genre.
Gigantosaurus is a game that gives children what they want – a game that’s got as much complexity and depth as those that the adults get, that’s polished and not a buggy mess and doesn’t just tear up the source material. It contains all the classic 3D platforming tropes and manages to cater to players of all skill levels while it does so. This is all sweetened off by racing levels which are simplistic but are pitched to their target demographic. The plot might be a little more than happenstance that hangs the levels together and it’s a shame that the TV’s voice cast aren’t included here but neither of these are deal breakers. My brood of kids have had a great time playing Gigantosaurus – The Game with even the eldest (10 years old) getting in on the action and I fully expect this game to enter regular rotation like a number of other Outright Games titles.
Gigantosaurus – The Game is launching on the PS4, Xbox One (review platform), PC and Nintendo Switch on the 27th of Match, 2020.
Publisher: Outright Games, Cyber Group Studios.
Disclaimer: In order to complete this review, we were provided with a promotional code from the publisher. For our full review policy, please go here.
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