Everyone, surely, knows the word dinosaur comes from the Greek deinos meaning terrible and sauros meaning lizard, but I bet you didn't know that actually dinosaurs were only around during the Mesozoic Era which finished with the end of the Cretaceous period. Then they all died. Suddenly and without explanation. Well, without an explanation that's been completely accepted by the scientific world.
Until now of course. What actually happened you see was this: some wizard bloke (wizard as in like, a magician type, not the Seventies term for a guy who's sort of good at things and cool and stuff) from a parallel dimension looked at the young Earth (which was then populated by dinosaurs ruled by a handful of waring Gods) and decided that it was going to grow up to be something of a tear
This wizard then hit on the wizard idea (that was the Seventies term then - I hope you're keeping up) of banishing one of the Gods to the middle of the moon. Like you would.
And to cut a long story short, this caused all the Gods to be imprisoned. Then a meteorite slammed into Earth, killed all the dinosaurs and released the Gods who are now going to fight it out for control of the planet. Which is now called Urth.
A beat-'em-up then. For one or two players. Based on the coin-op of the same name. We'll deal with the one player side of things first because there are a couple of subtle differences.
Right then, pick your dinosaur and prepare to fight all the others, one after the other. Every time you win a contest (you can decide the number of bouts but the game defaults to the logical three) you win one of the new Urth's seven continents and along with that you gain some worshippers.
Worshippers don't actually figure much in the game, apart from the comedy smacking them around when you're in the middle of a bout, but they are important if you've got the gore option turned on because just before you fight the final battle (when you have to fight each of the other dinosaurs in a single bout contest) you get to chomp as many of them as you can. The more you chomp, the more spent energy you can replenish before that final battle,
During a fight you'll notice that as well as the normal life meter, your dinosaur also has a Brain Stem Bar. Basically, this is a kind of reaction thing. Every time you take a smack you lose energy and some brain power. If you lose all your brain power you're vulnerable to attack because your dino' is too thick to stop it.
Again, you're not going to worry about this brain stuff when you first start but as you peel away the layers of the gameplay you'll find it can become quite important,
In two player mode things are kinda the same really, except you and your opponent are fighting each other for control of the planet. One thing to bear in mind here is that if you've played a couple of rounds with one dino' and won a couple of territories and then you go and switch characters you're going to have to fight for these territories over again. This is good because it sort of encourages you to stick with the same dino' as long as possible.
This is great fun to play. Our very own Graeme here is the regular beat-'em-up expert and he doesn't like the game at all but I reckon it's great fun. Hitting combinations takes practice but they aren't so impossibly complex you never get 'em and each of the characters has their own strengths and weaknesses which take a while to discover and exploit.
Even if you're not much cop at this highly specialised genre you'll still find you can actually play the game because you can rely on the simpler stuff to get you through.
What really works though, and this is what separates the men from the boyus in the world of beat-'em-ups, is the hidden depths contained within the game. Primal Rage has gameplay that really does reward practice and that means you can get better at playing it, and we all know that if you can get better at playing a game you're going to enjoy it for longer.
Witness that dreadful game Rise of the Robots, great graphics (even if the characters couldn't turn around - tee hee), but the gameplay was bloody awful because it took absolutely no skill to finish the thing.
At the end of the day, Primal Rage is good stuff. It's not quite Amiga Format Gold material but it does get very close. You'll enjoy this just because you're a beat-'em-up fan and you should still enjoy it, even if you're not.
The only downside is that you really do need a second disk drive and even with one you'll find the amount of disk swapping becomes a bit of a pain (the game comes on four disks and is not hard disk installable), so bear that in mind if you're an impatient type who can't be doing with changing disks every couple of minutes. Otherwise, enjoy.