Dino Crisis [GameBoy Color – Cancelled]

Dino Crisis [GameBoy Color – Cancelled]

Dino Crisis [GameBoy Color – Cancelled]

The original Dino Crisis was a widely popular survival horror (marketed as survival panic) game developed by Capcom and released on the original PlayStation in 1999. It was created by the same team that made the first Resident Evil game and contained many of the same tense elements but focused on more of an action feel.

A portable version of Dino Crisis was being developed for the Gameboy Color by British studio M4 Ltd, who had released Tasmanian Devil: Munching Madness and were due to release Jerry McGrath Supercross 2000.  M4 stated that the game would not be complete until Q4 of 2000 but development had started early in the year, this was reported by IGN who spoke to the developers. M4 said that Dino Crisis for the GBC would be a top down adventure rather than how the original was, it would also be developed exclusively for the GBC by-passing any kind of black and white compatibility. Virgin interactive handled development for Capcom in the UK and so they were handling this game, there was no word on where it would be released. M4 Ltd version of Dino Crisis GBC was never released, but they developed top-down Resident Evil Gaiden, published by Capcom in 2001.

It seems that this unreleased version of Dino Crisis was used as a base to develop the released Resident Evil Gaiden. As we can read at NowGamer:

As I recall, we produced a very impressive demo for a GBC version of Dino Crisis. Resident Evil was already in development as an over-ambitious port from the PlayStation version. This was scrapped and Capcom asked us to do a bespoke game with our Dino Crisis engine.

Capcom had requested Virgin for a Dino Crisis demo, Virgin asked us to create it. It used the exploration mode and [similar] battle system as Gaiden would use.

It was playable. The dino sprites in exploration mode were large. I have entire backups of everything from M4, absolutely everything, but I’m in Brazil and the backups are in the UK.

This is not the only version of a GBC Dino Crisis that can be found on the web though, as on two separate Spanish websites Vandal and Dino Crisis Wiki the game was reported to be being developed by a different studio. This other cancelled game was said to be being developed by the now missing Fluid Studios another British developer who released games such as Top Gun: Firestorm (GB) and Army Men: Air Combat (GB and N64). This was also said to be being developed late 1999 early 2000, for the GBC.

There are a few more details for this version of the game though: it would not be a top down adventure but rather using static backgrounds and images accompanied by text sequences. Some presumed screenshots from Fluid Studios’ Dino Crisis seem to have been leaked online too, but we don’t know their source. These sites also report that the game was to be 7 maps with 100 rooms in total. There were to be four characters in the game Regina, Rick, Gail and Dr Kirk all who appeared in the original game on the PlayStation. Also it was said that there was going to be five types of dinosaur two unspecified with the others being the Tyrannosaurus Rex, Velociraptor and Pteranodon.


Update: While this article was being uploaded to the site I have been looking through documents that were released (you can find the design doc online) regarding the game that was in development by Fluid Studios. In this document it is revealed that what Fluid actually wanted to produce was a scaled down version of the original Dino Crisis, they wanted to keep all the original maps, plot-lines, dinosaurs and the look and feel of the original. This is quite a bold statement as the original was on the PlayStation 1 which is a more powerful system. Fluid were worried about the restrictive nature of the GBC especially in regards to the sprite size and how they would recreate the dinosaurs.

The story had a very brief background written about it, there was to be an undercover agent (Regina who had infiltrated the compound and was trying to capture Dr. Kirk and take him back to her government agency. Fluid also intended to have different game modes for this and it was said that they would have bonus missions if you had completed the game. This was said to contain three missions in which the player would have to kill a set amount of dinosaurs in a certain period of time.

  • Mission one – 8 dinosaurs in 5 minutes
  • Mission two – 6 dinosaurs in 4 minutes
  • Mission three – 7 dinosaurs in 3 minutes

The document also writes about design elements in the game, the status screen was said to contain your inventory, mapping and you would be able to mix objects. As previously stated there would be 7 maps with about 100 rooms for the player to explore. There would also be different colour wall supply boxes that would require a corresponding key. These would allow you store your items in so that you could take them out when needed.
There was also to be things called Danger Points in the game, this was when Regina was knocked to the floor with a dinosaur standing over her a danger icon would flash on screen. The player would then have to press buttons as fast as possible to allow Regina to stand up without being attacked again. Many different Puzzles and Sub Games were also discussed these were a memory game, a jigsaw type game, a word game a pipe laying game and a logic game it is not stated where these would be used but it could be for where the player is trying to unlock a door or a computer.

Graphics were also talked about in the document and as they were restricted with what they could do with the GBC they wanted to do re-rendered backgrounds. Fluid were also trying to develop a new technology that would use camera projections that would flatter the scaled sprites. Fluid also wanted to carry over atmospheric enhancements from the original PSX game such as blood dripping from Regina and moths flying around lights. It was also proposed that there would be a direction arrow on the screen that would help the player know where they had to go next.

The four main characters that were to be in the game were going to have a scaling method applied to them for how they looked in-game. They were going to be split into two parts and the reason for this was so that each body section could contain three separate colours. They also said that it would allow for more variation in the animation of the characters.

The dinosaurs are also discussed and there were indeed going to be five types, these were Raptors who were to be the most abundant type who would attack with great ferocity. Large Dinosaurs who were similar to the raptors except they were harder to kill but slower moving. These two types were required to have an on screen presence as they were the main enemies in the game and were to be broken into three parts so that the head, body and tail could be scaled separately allowing for more realistic animations. Small dinosaurs were another type who were described as more of a nuisance and would appear out of vents and gaps in the wall. Two of these would have been displayed on the screen at one time. Pteranodon was a flying dinosaur that would be in certain outside areas of the game and although the player could kill them more would take their place. Finally the T-Rex was said to appear many different times throughout the game but it would not be able to be killed until the end. There is even a small list of when it would appear and attack Regina throughout certain points of the game.

Fluid understood how hard it would be to bring a graphical representation of the T-Rex to the GBC and so were deliberating on how they could show the scale of the beast so that it would look huge in comparison to the player. They suggested that one of the best ways to do this would be to draw the T-Rex as a background graphic which would then animate and scale. Also when the T-Rex was chasing Regina the camera would pan out so that Regina’s sprite would be a lot smaller allowing them to put the size into perspective.

If you would like any more information about this please don’t hesitate to contact me. Both of these studios no longer exist and there is not much else reported on why these games were cancelled, but Capcom also cancelled the unreleased GBC version of Resident Evil and so it may be that they did not think that the versions would uphold the popularity of the originals.

Thanks to Der Steppenwolf and eSPy for the contributions!

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7 thoughts on “Dino Crisis [GameBoy Color – Cancelled]

  1. John Doom

    The only way those photos are not mockups, is that they were going to show only two characters per screen, each one not wider than 40×80, made up of 8×16 sprites.
    But then again, in the t-rex screen, you have lasers: sprite limit has been hit, so how could have they made those lasers? Each one of them has a different shape, so they probably had to be rendered at runtime by coding, but not as sprites (they’re all already used for the characters) nor as a background (because they are in front of the t-rex). So they had to be rendered for each frame directly to the VRAM? I’m not even sure the gameboy was capable of doing it and, even if it was, it was probably going to be REALLY slow (like a few fps per sec), so that’s unlikely to me :\

    1. LazyFace

      If you take a look at the design document it does go into more detail about the way that they were going to do regarding sprite size. The GBC could only display up to 40 sprite objects on-screen at a time, I think this is why they were using re-rendered rooms and their own scaling system.
      The images could well be mock ups as they are taken from the design document, maybe they realised that the GBC would not be able to handle what they wanted to do with the game and so stopped the project.

      1. John Doom

        I read that later and, indeed, it seems I was right about character’s size (that’s the 40 sprite limit: you can’t have more than 40 8×8 or 8×16 sprite blocks on screen per frame, so they couldn’t show more than two characters that big per screen). Still no explaination for the lasers in the document, so I really think that was a mockup but, except this, it was kind of possible, though REALLY hard to make it work right: the document in fact says that not only (as I guessed) they had sizes problems for the characters, but they also were to use different layouts for each enemy type in order to just squeeze ONE enemy’s animation frame and ONE character’s animation frame per frame lol. Then there was the scaling problem, which needed good coding to pre-render the characters as fast as possible, and then plot them into the sprite area so that they could be rendered into the next frame… That’s possible (“Perfect Dark” for GBC did the same, except for the scaling) , but it’s a nightmare to make it work good AND fast. They kind of did it with Resident Evil, but I think its scaling was pre-rendered (fast but not smooth, like in “Alone in the Dark” for GBC), yet the document says they wanted it to be smooth for Dino Crisis, so it was probably going to work per frame (and slow), unless they could store a really high number of frames (to make it look smooth) just in the RAM.

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