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prehistoric isle flyer

Prehistoric Isle in 1930 is along with Time Pilot one of my favorite and earliest game memories. The game is from 1989 and features a biplane from the 1930’s being sent to investigate an island in the Bermuda triangle where shipping has been vanishing. Being a kid at the arcade this game always grabbed my attention with its colorful graphics and interesting theme. It kind of reminded me of one of my favorite movies growing up which was about a world war I German U-boat that gets stranded on a dinosaur and cave man infested island. The game play is fairly standard for a horizontal shooter but features the interesting mechanic of “pods” that act as power ups. You have your standard shot but when you get a pod power up the pod makes your standard shot more powerful. Also you have the ability to rotate the pod around your biplane changing its power depending on its position. For instance if in front of you it powers up your standard shot, angled diagonally in front of you it arcs bombs, directly above or below and it fires a sort of energy blanket and if placed directly to the rear of your plane it lays mines. Other then the theme it was always the variety of dinosaurs and monsters that grabbed my attention from giant bugs and cavemen to skeleton pterodactyls. There were also nice details for the time such as the cavemen grabbing onto your wings and weighing you down or flying under waterfalls and feeling the pressure of the water forcing your plane down.


before each level your shown a little map of the island and where you will be on said island. The game isn’t overly long and can be completed in something like 30 to 40 minutes or less but the levels are interesting and varied from jungles to underwater to the open skies.


The first level takes place in the jungle where you face various dino’s as well as cavemen that emerge from huts and leap up to latch onto your plane and drag it down. This stage like many feature a mid level boss as well as a level boss.


The first two bosses you encounter are a Brachiosaurus that lunges out at you with its long neck and an Allosaurus. before each boss encounter your greeted with a large “CAUTION!” on screen as well as the bosses species and length and weight stats. Its ultimately pointless but its a nice little touch for introducing the boss.


The second level mixes it up a bit sending you high up above the island where you battle various flying enemies such as pterodactyls and cavemen latched onto giant bats.


This level features no mid level boss but does have a huge pterodactyl as the level boss. Besides his standard fireballs that he fires at you he also creates mini tornadoes with his wings that grab your plane and fling it around the screen possibly right into a fireball or the giant flying terror.


The next stage takes you back down to the island. This stage is a little bland and seems to take place in rocky canyons over small lakes and in caves.


The bosses of this level are a little strange. The first one is even introduced as “unknown dinosaur” and looks like a some kind of flying green whale covered in giant pustules. The main boss is a giant insect that splits into smaller and smaller versions of itself as you weaken it.


The next level is my favorite of the game and sees your biplane transform into a submarine and go underwater off the islands coast fighting various undersea prehistoric monstrosities.


The mid level boss is a giant prehistoric turtle that fires baby giant turtles at you.


This level features some neat details such as the wreckage of all the ships that have gone missing in recent years. In one section of the stage as you begin to descend deeper into the depths a wrecked ship from above floats down and two heads and necks of the Brachiosaurus boss you faced earlier bust out of the wrecked ship and attempt to grab you. The effect used to create the dinosaurs neck is admittedly sort of cool for the time and its nice to see it used again.


The boss of this stage is a giant nautilus type monster that uses the same effect that the necks used for its to grasping tentacles. If you to happen to get grasped by one of the tentacles you are dragged to the mouth where you are chewed apart and pieces of wreckage are spewed out.


The final stage takes place in what appears to be a volcano but overall is not very interesting.


Your mid level boss is an angry Stegosaurus that jumps around and knocks stalactites on you. The “veggie” eating dino’s out for your blood and kind of the whole vibe I get from this game does kind of make me think of the island from King Kong, well at least the original version.


The final boss is actually kind of silly. Its a Tyrannosaurus but all you get to fight is his head as he comically bobs back and forth across the screen. I understand the fight is supposed to give you an impression of his massive scale and the bobbing is to awkwardly simulate his walking but it all just kind of comes off as comical. He breaths fire and gives off a Godzilla roar as well.


Defeating this final boss grants you an ending cinema and a job well done…and a horrible death. yep, that’s right, after defeating the fearsome and awkward Tyrannosaurus you dock with your mother aircraft which is then promptly attacked by a flock of pterodactyls and destroyed, your dead, the end…oh sorry. SPOILER!

I really enjoy this game. For the time it was released the sprites are nice and the levels and enemies are varied. I really enjoyed the theme and it made me feel like I was playing an interactive version of some of my favorite movies as a kid such as The Land That Time Forgot/The People That Time Forgot or exploring the dinosaur island from King Kong. As far as I know this game was never ported to other systems outside of the arcade. I think there was some kind of digital download version for the PSP but that’s really no different from just running the game on an arcade emulator. There was in fact a sequel created in 2000 by the title Prehistoric Isle 2 but in my opinion the game is horrible. The premise is okay and involves you flying either a Soviet Hind or American Apache helicopter against invading dinosaurs and rescuing civilians but the game turned out bland and lacking any charm the original had. Most of the enemies aren’t even recognizable dinosaurs but just generic monsters, most of the levels are pretty boring. The game is done in a sort of 3d style that has not aged well and that I find generally unpleasant.

One Comment

  1. prehistoric isle is a hard but very cool game… and i love too his sequel, even having a different graphic aspect.

    the thing i never liked of prehistoric isle in 1930, was their stupid very sad ending…
    how you can be dead? when the dinosaurs can killing you during the whole game, like a millions of times!?

    BUT… im good with the pro action replay, and i finded a way to create a whole fake happy ending only with cheat codes. (i have no idea of programming).

    those codes must be activated on a certain moment, using the “enable keys” option, asigned to those cheats.
    the result is on this video. hope you enjoy it guys!… 😉

    for use those codes, just visit my post on the puggsy mame cheats forum. the links are on the video.

    HOWEVER… for use it, you will need to use one older mame32 before the 126 version, or a hacked one like this version, that you can download making click over that “flaming dragon”.

    this hacked mame (is one of the 3 there) uses an old engine but the newer games roms set…
    so is very very useful. because i dont have any idea of how convert this codes to the new mameui32 cheat system engine. and puggsy have no interest on this kind of bizarre things i do.

    hope you like this fake happy ending done by cheat codes.

    on my channel you will find too a way to control the double dragon enemies or how to save marian on double dragon 2 arcade mame and also hear the ending music. LOL is awesome.

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