What is Jurassic War?
It is a Korean RTS released in 1996 by Tranquil Revolt in Computer. Set in a sword & sorcery primitive age it features cavemen, iron weapons, powerful magicians and on top of it all â€“ dinosaurs. Eight tribes vie for control over the Dream Island where the game takes place. The story of terrifying giant reptiles evolving there again through cell division is pretty far-fetched, but I am more than happy to suspend my disbelief this time and just enjoy.
Because Jurassic War is a unique game. Not only does it flamboyantly feature dinosaurs paired with cavemen, completely overhauls traditional rts resource economy, it also has the balls to not give any answers on how should you play it!
A single unit can level up to be hardier than a T-Rex, bah, even hardier than A CASTLEâ€¦ But a wrong step could decimate your army as invisible poison mushroom spores from outside your vision range drain their health in seconds.
Life in the Jurassic is dangerous. So let’s cover the basics first.
You take control of one of the eight tribes, each with their own strengths and weaknesses. The Tyrano tribe can train powerful dinosaurs, the Koaka employ flying Rhamphorhynchuses, the Masai can craft mighty weapons, the Muspel can summon demonic powers of destruction, the Kumba are hardy mageslayers, the Canus have access to healing magic, the Radumba fletch deadly poison arrows, and the Romek can teleport and raise the dead at a whim.
You build structures, train units, gather food and attack enemies. Food is an euphemism for RAW MEAT, because the only way to obtain food is by hunting wild animals. Food slowly disappears when left on the ground, and is also eaten by wounded units to regenerate. Yes, the same resource used for training and building is an item of vital importance for individual warriors.
There is also a curious option to take a nap to regain lost health and magic points faster.
So, you select your units, hunt some respawning Sabertooth Tigers or Mammoths, cash in the goods in a storage hut, buy more units in your respective training huts and send them toâ€¦ train. By hunting more.
Yes, that’s the most important aspect of the game. Units grow stronger when vanquishing enemies, so forget about raiding defenceless peasants. The gathering units are usually no easy prey!
You can change what skills should a unit learn by ticking the appropriate stone in the lower right corner. That way you can tailor groups of melee tanks or long-range snipers, both starting as the same basic units.
All this complex behaviour is very hard for the game’s AI, which in part is responsible for a lack of skirmish mode. Fortunately the lengthy, 12-mission campaigns with each of the clans make up for it. Pathing is a pain, as units often get stuck in tight passages, or even in open terrain, when they bump into a tree. I could understand a slow caveman having this sort of problems, but a swift velociraptor?
The game is in no way balanced, but it „balances itself” with the existence of the Capturer unit, one that can convert enemy structures to your side, effectively merging many tribes into an unstoppable force of nature. Wololo!
Multiplayer is a miracle to pull off on modern computers and it features a wholly different gameplay. Up to two players can explore one of 20 maps, filling other tribes with AIs. What’s curious, players start with an agreed upon number of units and food. The units are fresh, so dinosaurs have a distinct advantage over untrained magicians and empty-handed cavemenâ€¦ But this changes quickly!
I haven’t been yet able to play against a human player, partly because it is so tiresome to establish a connection, and partly because hardly anyone plays it. I hope you will be able to, I am actually thrilled to hear about it!
But why did I spend so much time on guides for an obscure Korean RTS that had it’s silver jubilee recently?
One thing is, I love dinosaurs! Another, I couldn’t stop playing, even with Warcraft 2, Diablo and other, more polished games competing for my time. But the most important thing for me was its mystery.
Among the game’s hefty fluff walls of butchered Engrish text you won’t find a single stat! Well, apart from the „+1’s” which your tribesmen get upon leveling. Every item, every spell and every creature is an enigma when it comes to usefulness â€” name, price in food and a few white bars your only guide.
I was dumbfounded. I wanted to make some sense of it. I wanted to bring order to a game full of chaos and reptiles, even though the mystery was what kept me playing. Maybe it is the human nature to chart the unknown? And I, not being a scientist or an explorer, chose to chart this little game?
Even the cheat codes weren’t there! The only ones I found on the net were „next” and „food”!
But one day, I got curious. I began writing random words. I wrote „end”â€¦ And I won the game. Whoa, I thought, I found another cheatcode! Yeah, well, it sounds simple enough, but for a 10-year-old me it was something. I followed the trails and tried some more words, getting excited like an archeologist finding fossils of undiscovered species. I found the game’s name in korean and found the Namu wiki eventually.
But nothing was right! Their codes consisted of whole sentences, complete with dots and multiple exclamation marks! How was I supposed to guess „units” from „If not, make it happen!!”? Well, it was hit and miss. I found the code „enemy”, and looking for a code to enhance my own unitsâ€™ strength, I entered „units”. Funny enough, it was the code for all the units and items in the shop. But the stat increase code continued to elude me. I even downloaded the Korean version of the game and entered their codes, just to experience what exactly does the cheat do. I luckily guessed the unimaginably hard two-word „legendary items” code, but the stat code „matchless” proved a challenge. I found it online eventually, on a Korean forum.
I’m pretty sure I was the only one in the West that knew these cheats. It was a thrilling thought, even though it’s just an old game.
I posted them to some random pages, but there still was a hole I needed to fill.
Growing up in my parentsâ€™ office in the 90s made old games one of the more cherished hobbies of mine. I decided to found the Keep after finding out how little is there about this game online, at least in English.
I don’t wish I’d known this stuff when I’d had first started playing Jurassic War. The „finding out” was the best part of the game experience for me. I compiled these guides for all of you that get tired of stumbling in the dark. At least for this little game. I guess I was hugely inspired by Jarulf and his guide to Diablo. But I didn’t want to just fill a .txt or .doc file with numbers and post it somewhere. There wasn’t even a proper place to do so! I wanted to add some flair. To makeâ€¦ a shrine.
So, enter Jurassic Keep.
A WordPress excuse of a webpage complete with ads and a free domain address. We’re back in the 90s baby!
And it’s high time, should’ve done this 65 millions of years ago.
If you want more, come hang on my Discord channel! We have emojis!
Many thanks to Jab for sharing my passion for Jurassic War through our childhood, to 012 for crucial links and photos, to i12fly2u for invaluable translations, to GeneralGuyDave for remake inspiration and motivation to finish this site, and to Tric for making this game!