In this golden age of remakes, remasters and reboots, one series has eluded the gaming world for the good part of two decades. Unfortunately, it did see a tragic demise with a less-than-serviceable third installment, but that’s a story for another day. However, today I’d like to briefly look at the potential of a remake for 1999’s Dino Crisis, a game that took the survival horror elements of Resident Evil and that kitchen scene in Jurassic Park, and made an entire video game out of it. Capcom certainly weren’t short on sure-fire hits around this period, so how did Dino Crisis – given its short life span – come to be a highly requested remake, and what would a modern remake be?
To consider what a Dino Crisis remake would look like, we first need to understand the original game. At the time, it was commonplace for fans and critics to call Dino Crisis simply “Resident Evil with dinosaurs”. Sure, the similarities are uncanny, such as tight corridors, a reliance on atmospheric tension and build-up, and some cleverly timed jump scares (be it zombies or dinosaurs). However, Dino Crisis actually took a few leaps and strides ahead of Resident Evil that isn’t talked about much. Given the game releasing at the peak of the first PlayStation’s life span, developers had more or less gotten a hang of the hardware capabilities, and through Dino Crisis, Capcom were able to craft full 3D-rendered environments. This was a great departure from the pre-rendered backgrounds of Resident Evil, and it looked fantastic.
Dino Crisis‘ unmissable ace up its sleeve, and not-so-secret weapon, was the dinosaurs.
For the most part, the overall graphical differences only went so far between both franchises. However, Dino Crisis‘ unmissable ace up its sleeve, and not-so-secret weapon, was the dinosaurs. Keep in mind, this was the 90s, and Jurassic Park had taken the decade by storm. Dinosaurs were at the peak of popularity. It just so happened that Dino Crisis, one of the only major games of its kind, would attempt to capitalize on this trend (Turok not withstanding). In the case of Turok, though, at least it took liberties with its dinosaur designs. Dino Crisis seemingly lifted theirs straight out of Jurassic Park, which I actually think worked for the better.
So what would be the first steps one would have to take in attempting to remake Dino Crisis? The most likely exclusion would be the fixed camera perspectives. There’s a reason Capcom moved away from the fixed camera angles in the Resident Evil 2 remake. They were the result of hardware limitations at the time. Now that technology has advanced to the point where we don’t have those restrictions, there would naturally be other ways to create tension and horror. Whether it be the first-person perspective wisely used in Resident Evil 7 or resorting to the over-the-shoulder perspective of Resident Evil 2‘s remake, this gave developers room to experiment with the horror from literally different angles – and judging by the critical and commercial reception, they worked.
…going with Resident Evil‘s winning over-the-shoulder formula would very likely be the direction Capcom would take with Dino Crisis‘ remake too.
Dino Crisis would probably ditch its fixed cameras as well for these reasons too. A remake doesn’t always mean taking the same components of the original and just giving it a visual upgrade (I’m sure some would be happier for that), but we’ve seen, in more recent times, that remakes pay off by getting away with gameplay evolution – as long as the original’s substance and charm is kept in tact, the gameplay can naturally change or evolve, sometimes for the better (i.e. Final Fantasy VII Remake). Hence, going with Resident Evil‘s winning over-the-shoulder formula would very likely be the direction Capcom would take with Dino Crisis‘ remake too.
Then comes the question of characterization. It pains me to think that Regina, the protagonist of Dino Crisis, is just as charismatic and defined as any other Resident Evil character, yet she doesn’t get talked about much when it comes to some of the most endearing protagonists of that time. Behind her stoic soldier persona was a hint of complete apathy and sarcasm – maybe unintentionally. Due to the questionable voice acting, I guess it unintentionally created this weird character for her through line delivery alone. Nonetheless, be it a mistake or not, this has come to define Regina’s personality, with Capcom just saying “f*ck it” and running with it in the sequel too. This is something that shouldn’t be changed or tampered with in the remake, but rather focused on. It’s an interesting and subversive character trait that is rarely gifted to protagonists in gaming.
Behind [Regina’s] stoic soldier persona was a hint of complete apathy and sarcasm – maybe unintentionally.
The tricky tightrope that Capcom would need to walk when considering a Dino Crisis remake – especially today – is addressing the age-old criticism of “it’s just Resident Evil with dinosaurs”. I have just spoken about how Dino Crisis‘ remake may benefit from taking Resident Evil‘s gameplay perspective (and maybe trinkets of ideas), but that’s about as far as the similarities need to go. Dino Crisis is, essentially, a game about dinosaurs, and that’s something that would be the star of the show in a remake.
The dinosaur threats will need to be put at the forefront of the game without completely overshadowing Regina or any other side character. I’d go as far as saying balancing both the dinosaurs and Regina’s importance, because there is potential here for her to become a fantastic new video game icon with a proper revitalization. However, it will also need to stick to its survival horror elements closely. This means opening the encyclopedia of dinosaurs and finding the ones that would best benefit from a horror setting. The original game’s dino-roster was limited, but with a remake, the sky is the limit and the opportunity to expand the amount of dinosaurs (thus increasing enemy types too) is potentially incredible.
Finally, I want to talk about why Dino Crisis would ultimately benefit from a remake. Apart from simply existing in a time where remakes are the go-to cash machines for companies, there’s a remarkable lack of scary and suspenseful dinosaur-centric video games. One would think that there’d be a world of potential there for making a fantastic survival action/horror game, but it’s a bit puzzling that no developers have attempted to lean into this idea. If Far Cry ain’t gonna do it (why don’t you listen to us, Ubisoft?!), then a Dino Crisis remake is in the perfect position right now to not only revive it as a franchise – with all of its potential fully realized – but capitalize on filling a gap in the market. Dinosaurs need to be taken seriously in video games again, so why not bring back a game that actually did?