Jurassic Park: Danger: A SuperParent Tabletop Review
Life... uh... finds a way.
The island of Isla Nublar, fictionally located in Central America, is a dangerous place… and that was before John Hammond used DNA fragments to bring dinosaurs back to life.
With Ravensburger’s Jurassic Park: Danger!, players can relive the original Jurassic Park film by taking on the roles of either the aggressive dinosaurs or the ten civilians and InGen employees trapped on the island. The survivors must reactivate the control center, visitor’s center, and maintenance shed, complete their character-specific goals, and escape on the helicopter. The dinosaurs (a T-rex, velociraptor, and dilophosaurus) are just trying to do their dinosaur thing… and eat the survivors.
What is Jurassic Park: Danger?
Ravensburger’s Jurassic Park: Danger is a one-versus-many game that puts one player in control of the three different dinosaurs while one to four other players play as the humans. Like Ravensburger’s recent Jaws game (which we love), this is a light strategy affair that younger players can enjoy without feeling overwhelmed.
At the start of the game, the human players are each randomly assigned one of ten different characters. Each of these has their own deck of cards and a unique goal. In order for the human players to win, they’ll need to reactivate three buildings scattered around the island to summon the helicopter, complete their character’s goal to earn a token, and get to the helipad.
Jurassic Park: Danger’s design acknowledges that the dinosaurs are likely to eat a few survivors along the way. If a player is eliminated (or makes it to the exit safely), they’ll draw a new character card and begin again. If the dinos manage to eliminate three survivors, it’s game over, and the reptiles win the day.
In addition to the random character draws, the map changes every game. Inside the box is a frame representing the perimeter of Isla Nublar. At the outset, players will assemble the map, placing tiles in random places in the appropriate zones (perimeter, center, and start) as labeled on their backs. The three buildings (maintenance shed, visitor’s center, and control center) are always in the same locations, though the tiles on which they sit will change from game to game.
On the dinosaur player’s turn, they’ll play one of three cards in their hand. Each of these has two or three actions: run, climb, or sneak. The dinosaur player also gets to choose one dino ability each turn. The T-rex can attack a character in their space twice. The raptor can dash two spaces in a straight line. The dilophosaurus can spit venom into an adjacent tile. Players will need to be crafty, because dinosaur attacks can do a lot of damage very quickly.
The human players then choose one of their ten cards to play that enable them to also run, climb, or sneak. They aren’t quite as agile and, therefore, must roll a die to determine whether a climb or sneak action succeeds. If the roll fails, characters can choose to “burn” a card to boost the result by the amount listed on the card. (Failure simply means picking up the card, so nothing is lost unless a dinosaur is in position to attack.) Dinosaur damage also “burns” cards.
Burning and discarding are two different things. Discards have a chance of coming back into your hand. Burnt cards are out of the game for good. The distinction can create difficult (and meaningful) choices throughout the game.
If a player runs out of cards, they’re eliminated. However, they can reload their deck from the discard pile at the end of their turn if they burn the remaining cards in their hand. This can prolong a player’s life just long enough to escape or, at least, die in a valiant attempt to help the team activate a building or distract a dinosaur.
Giving human characters full access to their entire deck is a bold choice that enables players to make meaningful decisions right from the jump. It’s important in a fast-paced game like this, with specific movement actions, that players don’t struggle to draw the right card. The goal mechanic is also a clever way to shape the human players’ experience. Some of the goals require players to visit a specific location, while other characters start with their token and can lose it during play.
The entire experience is a large cat-and-mouse game. In our sessions, our younger players became adept at the use of the sneak action to confound the dinosaurs. It didn’t take them long to start working together to form a strategy, figuring out how to maximize their survivability, and plot to outwit my dinosaurs.
How complex is Jurassic Park: Danger?
Strategy games, even light ones like Jurassic Park: Danger, are hit and miss for younger players. Across our three youngest children (ages 6, 8, and 11), we have a broad range of reading fluency and strategic aptitude. All three had no problem with the tactical element of the game after just a couple of turns.
The cards are mostly straightforward, even for those that can’t quite read. Unfortunately, there are a few cards that have a bit more text. Sitting non-readers and those still learning next to an older sibling or adult might be necessary.
Given that the goal conditions are open knowledge, it’s easy for any player around the table to help direct younger gamers that might not have a strong sense of strategy. While Jurassic Park: Danger does offer varied and meaningful choices throughout the game, it’s not hard for players of any age to determine what would help the team advance toward the win condition. As always, you know your young players best.
Thankfully, there is no graphic imagery. Dinosaur attacks can be as playful or as scary as you’d like. We joked every time the dinos chomped a survivor, ensuring that the Jurassic Park game was far less intimidating than the films.
What’s the verdict?
Ravensburger has wowed us with its licensed games. Jaws is phenomenal, and Jurassic Park: Danger is just as good. Kids love dinosaurs. Heck, many adults do, too.
Pop on John Williams’ fantastic soundtrack, gather the family, and see if your group of survivors can outwit the dinosaurs. For those that have any love of the Jurassic Park franchise, this is one for the collection.
Disclosure: A review copy of Jurassic Park: Danger! was provided to SuperParent by the publisher.