Friday, March 27, 2015
Despite what archaeologists may tell you, the 90s were truly when dinosaurs were king. Because of Jurassic Park, everyone was dinosaur crazy, and as a token 90s kid, I can attest to that: I loved velociraptors a whoooole bunch. I became a fan of the Toronto Raptors back in their inauguration not due to any national pride, but simply because of their mascot.
So it should have come as a surprise to nobody when somebody decided to combine children’s affinity for dinosaurs with children’s affinity for maiming and slaughtering our enemies. The result was 1994’s Primal Rage: a fighting game where you took control of various beasts in an effort to conquer a post-apocalyptic world for some fairly mundane reasons. The cobra-like hissing dinosaur intended to build an insane, multidimensional temple. The wicked red tyrannosaur Diablo hoped to plunge the world into fiery destruction for shits and giggles. The virtuous yellow tyrannosaur Sauron, on the other hand, wanted only to eat everything and everyone. I can relate to that.
I was never very good at the game, so my defeat at the end of each round was inevitable, represented by the heart next to your health meter exploding, and the brain next to your stun meter melting. That always sucked ass. I kinda liked to think my guy would just fight on despite his combusted heart, but alas, he collapsed in a heap, dead. On the plus side, it wasn’t in vain, as Sauron would then proceed to feast upon my corpse. Seriously, the fucker ate everything.
So although Primal Rage action figures weren't especially appropriate, they were fairly inevitable. And I guess, had you not known the source material, you could just be led to believe that they were innocuous dinosaur toys. Unless of course you looked at the character description for Chaos, the shaman who had been transformed into a repugnant ape-beast, who featured a projectile called ‘Power Puke’, and a fatality of acidic pee. Then you could start piecing some (in)appropriations together.
Here’s the two I owned; my favourite for obvious reasons, Talon the deinonychosauria (aka a raptor yayyyy), and Sauron the aforementioned tyrannosaurus who no doubt intends to eat me.
In a vacuum, they're pretty faithful representations of the source material, but I can't help but wish they had been ballsy enough to stay true to the proper scale of the respective dinosaurs. As you can see, Talon stands toe to toe with Sauron, despite his in-game sprite obviously being a fair bit smaller. Overall, I feel as though Talon could stand to be a bit more lithe; he's obviously been hitting the gym for his action figure release.
Sauron I have no specific beef with. He could probably stand to look a little scarier, but I'm really being picky here (mostly as a way of padding out this blog post if we're being honest). The moulding and paint job on both figures is absolutely wonderful. Feeling Sauron's scaly hide is a pleasure to the fingers, one might boldly declare. Their tails are detachable for packaging purposes, but should you be a big fan of storylines revolving primarily around docking, your needs can also be met. Actually, I shudder to think what kind of Primal Rage fanfiction is out there. It's a good thing dinosaurs can't use the Internet.
As is the norm, they feature unique actions that are hardly groundbreaking. Pressing down on Sauron's arm opens his mouth, the perfect opportunity for him to devour or roar or sing vigorously. Lifting Talon's... well, his talons... allows them to snap back down in a fierce slashing gesture. It's not really that compelling, and you could argue it looks more like he's just slapping his knees after hearing a particularly funny joke.
What is far more superfluous however, are their accessories. They each came with a little follower: wee little humans who worship the dinosaurs, dashing about and cheering them on during each fight. Alas, the followers here are tiny things of only a singular colour, and that colour, no matter which dinosaur you buy, will always be orange. The apocalypse has been sponsored by Nickelodeon, I guess. Stick Stickly to narrate the death matches?
But the rest of the knick knacks make kno sense. Sauron can be fitted with metallic shoes and a mouthpiece that resemble a muzzle, while Talon receives bright red claws for his hands and boots that look more like slippers. Talon, bro, this is a fucking battle for world domination, don't come dressed for bedtime.
Overall, they get the job done. The series would take a curious turn when they decided that the dinosaurs should be able to transform into human avatars who are inexplicably still the size of enormous beasts. The cancellation of the sequel wasn't enough to put a fork in this idea, as a novel was written. With this one fell swoop, the storyline changed from 'meteor hits the planet and giant dinosaurs come to party' to 'space egg hits the planet and gods assign humans as their familiar to duel with the evil skeletal dragon Necrosan in order to save the world'. Safe to say they didn't just jump the shark with that one, they downright rocketed into space over a bevy of flying sharks. In fact, that in a literal sense would have been a better storyline, methinks.
I say this often enough, my friends, and I shall say it again. Don't fix what ain't broke. We don't want humans in Primal Rage, in the same way we don't want a family-friendly Mortal Kombat. When a game has a certain M.O., and you make a move to completely shift that theme, it isolates the fans.
It's a moot point, since this franchise is now as extinct as the very dinosaurs it was based upon, but should it resurface, I truly hope it's back to the basics. The wars... the wars... of dinosaurs!! Leave your humans at home.