A Dino Eggs: Rebirth Inquisition
Exploring The Prehistoric Past
"All you wanted to do was leap back in time to the Mesozoic era and see what prehistoric life was like. But, unfortunately, you also brought along a case of 21st-century measles and contaminated all the dinosaurs.
Have you doomed the Dinos? Not if you can dig up enough dino eggs and carry them safely back to your time warp"
This was the original quest bestowed upon players back in 1983 on the Apple II. Dino Eggs, a best seller of the time, impressed critics and players alike with its "first-rate action" and "unmistakable style". But, unlike its prehistoric brethren, Dino Eggs refused to be fossilized and remains relevant today thanks to its modern reboot.
2016 saw the remarkable revival of this classic with the remake Dino Eggs: Rebirth. The original developer, David H Schroeder, returned in a new collaborative effort with Eric Ferrot who had worked on a remake himself in 2011 titled "Dino Legs". I spoke with Schroeder to find out why, after a long hiatus, he decided it was time to bring Time Master Tim back for a brand new adventure. Before that though, it's necessary to establish some backstory and context here as many gamers might be unaware of what exactly Dino Eggs is, well let me illuminate you:
To set the stage, the 1983 release of Dino Eggs coincided with the invention of the internet as we know it today. A time before iPhones, virtual reality and WiFi but most certainly a time for primitive yet charming video games. Enter Dino Eggs, originally developed for the Apple II and later ported to the Commodore 64, this little gem may be unknown to the masses today but it was a genuinely critically acclaimed game in its day and upon revisiting it, some 39 years later, it still has merit and many decent features.
For You Are Time Master Tim
You play as the titular Time Master Tim on a quest to rectify your mistake of contaminating prehistoric life by gathering and delivering Dinosaur eggs from the past and into the present for safekeeping via a time warp. You must traverse a perilous, ancient landscape riddled with dangerous foes by creating fires, dodging enemies and scooping up eggs for retrieval without touching any adversaries for fear of becoming contaminated yourself! All the while, a giant Dino mom is trying to stomp on your champion in an attempt to stifle his shenanigans. If this all sounds a bit crazy that's because it absolutely is and therein lies the games biggest strength. The concept is actually really interesting but what sets it apart, at least for me, is that it sprinkles in comedy throughout. It's consistently jovial and irreverent during the story thanks in large part to its writing style. It honestly wouldn't be too out of place in any modern indie game. That, and the concept in of itself is comical.
Let's Do The Time Warp Again
So with all that considered, how does the 2016 remake compare? Well, it is undoubtedly much improved, building upon the core elements that made the first game so memorable. The graphics have seen a modern update and the gameplay is a lot smoother. The story is structured much better here too as it's free of the Apple II's limitations. It also boasts brand new themed levels that serve as the arenas for Tim's adventures as well as a new character, Tim's daughter Tam.
The satisfaction of adventuring through the campaign whilst evading the monstrous Dino Mom and her minions was both fun and exciting. It was also very rewarding to save the cute dinosaurs, a sufficient reward for Tim's troubles!
All in all, it's a pretty neat game. Much like the original, it's the charm and humour along with its entertaining concept is what makes it all worthwhile.
But the questions remain, why does this remake exist? Was there such a demand for another Dino Eggs that Schroeder had to come out of retirement some 33 years later to finally fulfil his original ambition?
As it turns out, despite "dozen of people" asking if they could "rewrite Dino Eggs, or write (their) own version of Dino Eggs" over the years, it wasn't until his collaborative partner Eric Ferrot contacted him in 2009 regarding the possibility of a remake that he decided to launch the project. Schroeder much preferred the path of solitude whilst in the creative process before this point. So much so that he didn't pursue a career in the industry even though he had many successful games such as Crisis Mountain (1982) and Short Circuit (1985) to name but a couple.
Schroeder praised Ferrot for his "exciting" and "interesting ideas for expanding the Dino Eggs universe" and reflected upon the "amazing, cross-continental partnership" that he shared with his new colleague which he described as being "very rewarding". He depicted the process as being a "great creative partnership and he (Ferrot) brought marvellous, marvellous programming skills and great creative ideas" and that they "shared, kind of, how to expand the universe" together.
When asked if he believed the game had fulfilled its original potential in its new remake, Schroeder explained that he "looks at them as two separate things and they each reach their own potential in their own way". He then continued to highlight what some people demand from sequels, stating that sometimes people want "the impossible" in a follow-up, especially in movies and books. Dino Eggs Rebirth, however, retains its core tenets whilst paying homage to the original. Schroeder is rightfully "proud of both in each of their own way" and he interestingly compared them to a sibling relationship in that "their each a creature of their own time, their own birth, their own environment".
To conclude, I was curious as to what Schroeder's plans for the future are and to my surprise, he is involved as a "user-interface person" in a "game project" that, in his opinion, has "a lot of exciting potential" but he couldn't disclose any more than that. Although, he did reveal that it's "more in the personal activity, puzzley kind of direction" rather than an "action or arcade game per se". We also spoke about the possibility of a Schroeder Collection, a consolidation of all of his classic games with small "fixes" which he considers as a serious possibility in the future.
To cap off this inquisition I will say that David H Schroeder was a great sport and an absolute gentleman. I will be monitoring all of his future endeavours and I can not wait to see what he produces next!
Christie, Andrew (Sep-Oct 1983). "Dino Eggs". Softline. pp. 43-44. Retrieved 29 July 2014. Davies, Lloyd (April 1984). "Dino Eggs". Ahoy!. p. 57. Retrieved 27 June 2014. Dino Eggs - Cover Art - Back Cover from MobyGames (retrieved on January 7th, 2009) https://www.davidhschroeder.com/