You’ll Believe An Apatosaurus Can Fly

By Kieron Gillen on May 16th, 2008 at 9:39 am.

It'll never be as good as its tagline. But what could be?

True fact. The makers of Off-Road Velociraptor Safari have released an alpha of the much anticipated Jetpack Brontosaurus (“Splendid jetpack dreams of the Apatosaurus named Brontosaurus”). It includes what looks like four missions and a brontosaurus with a jetpack. Some initial impressions follow, in the format of words.

Well, it’s cute and dream-like and you suspect it’s going to be more of a niche concern than the buggy-racing fury of Off-Road Velociraptor Safari. It’s clearly derived from the Thrust school of games – which makes Thrust clones have more than their fair share of the greatest game names of all time, Jetpack Brontosaurus joining the hyper-pretentious Zarathrusta – with your controls being limited to directing your enormous hip-based thrusters and tapping space.

(Oh – and holding the left mouse button to fiddle with the camera, if you fancy)

In a sort of hub world, you direct yourself to challenges via the mini-map, which are basically tests of flying dexterity against time-limits, with various pass rates. While in the open environments it’s easy to achieve the basics, getting a decent score will require hugging the landscape and all the agility a 50 ton lizard can muster. It’s relaxing and cute and I’d like to see more.

It’s an alpha, so the team are actively fishing around for feedback about what people like and don’t. My initial problem is the camera – while it’s okay in the outdoor areas, the second you start going through the tunnel you start regretting you’re about seventy foot long and with a head that bangs into everything. Especially when you brake, it flies far too close obscuring the vision – and the manual adjusting is so sensitive it’s not really something that you can use to correct.

(With that in mind, my advice to anyone who plays it would be to go and explore the outdoor missions rather than delving into that exciting hole. Missus.)

Like Velociraptor, it runs entirely in a web-browser via plug-in (with optional full-screen), so just follow the link and get into those splendid thunder-lizard dreams.

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16 Comments »

  1. fluffy bunny says:

    Looks fun. But is it as good as Dino Run (and why haven’t you written about Dino Run)?

  2. The_B says:

    This is pretty fun, but I agree with the sentiments about the camera in the tunnel. More than once I was cursing my generously proportioned neck and tail as they lost me precious seconds in the tunnel…

  3. The Sombrero Kid says:

    someone was gonna say it it’s not a lizard

  4. Zeitgeist says:

    Didnt enjoy it very much, seems a waste to model it after Thrust

  5. sbs says:

    This unity web player thing didn’t ask me for an install path or anything, now stored about 10 mb of crap on my system drive.
    Luckily the game plays like shit, feels similarly responsive to playing an online shooter with 200ms & heavy packetloss, so at least i can uninstall it right away without any regrets.

    Since the concept is awesome I will give it a go once more when there is something like an actual game installer available.

    edit: neat, a comment edit feature <3
    ah yes, back to dino run.

  6. Zonderic says:

    Hmm, I definitely enjoyed the trailer alot for the smoothness of it, and almost the slowness of it. In playing it as a thruster game, it does have that delayed feel (as that is how thruster games play) and I find it detracts a bit from the enjoyment of flying around. And yeah, the camera is kind of obscured/touchy. I would like to be able zoom out and in a little, actually, to get a scope of things, as well as rotate the camera for a different view.

    It’s hard to be bothered though. The concept is so pleasant.

  7. derFeef says:

    Argh, I just noticed you can zoom and rotate the camera with the mouse! Much better with this ;)

  8. Dave says:

    @sbs: 200ms is not untypical for me when playing TF2, unfortunately. I’d say this feels much, much worse.

  9. Matthew says:

    Thanks for the feedback, guys! We’re watching forums and sites for discussion of the game, but the best way to make sure we see something (and remember it) is to use the feedback form on the website. That goes into a handy database.

    If you have input lag, but a good framerate, please email me directly. This sounds like a Unity-related issue and we’d love to track it down: mwegner at flashbangstudios

  10. sbs says:

    dave: thats why i added pl :>

  11. Rockeye says:

    someone was gonna say it it’s not a lizard

    No, it’s a terrible lizard.

  12. Jonathan says:

    If I have to be the one that says it fine.
    A massive Apatosaurus in a little crash helmet is one of the cutest things I’ve ever seen.
    No problems running it for me (2gig ram, 8600 gt 256mb, 2ghz dual core, Vista 64bit home prem) though I did have major slowdown when raptor safari was first released.Also that x-ray jet pack, whoever designed you deserves some kind of national award.

    Also quite adorably Apatosaurus isn’t recognized by Firefox but Brontosaurus is a suggested spelling. Firefox knows what it should be called.

  13. Kieron Gillen says:

    “Thunder Lizard” is what Brontosaurus means, people.

    KG

  14. lalahsghost says:

    Here is what I wrote to them:

    “Jetpack Brontosaurus Review Pt.1 (I’ll probably make more than one review)

    This was absolutely different than Raptor Safari, and since I’ve played over 100 games of raptor safari I have gotten used to the awkward but familiar responsiveness of it. This feels like you’re literally wielding a 70 ton brontosaurus. Take that as you will, since it’s actually a bit stunning, but makes it unenjoyable. I’ve emailed you guys several times about raptor safari (T-shirts, cheating scores, version updates) and Wegner has emailed me back every time. I feel like I know Splume and Raptor Safari very very very well. Intimately, maybe. I want to enjoy Jetpack Brontosaurus, I really do. Having the lack of the feeling or ability to be nimble ruins it for me. Not being able to walk… OH MY GOODNESS… may I express how frustrating that was the first time I tried after landing somewhere? :P
    The “Land On A Spot and Start The Misssion” idea is great. It gives the world a very purposeful and elaborate look to it. For some missions you go here and there, and on some missions you don’t etc etc etc. I assume it is to incorporate a graphics/polygon/engine budget, no? Graphics were splendid, and the turbothruster texture/x-ray effects are great. Fucking brilliant, honestly.
    With this game, I know I shouldn’t expect JET-FIGHTER type handling, but please make the controls more responsive. Instead of a 70 ton dinosaur, how about a 30 ton dinosaur? The internet statistics for the individual games IN-GAME was another witty thing to do, as well as the integration of email accounts spanning across games. Are the little do-hickeys that you can collect pineapples? What are their significance now or in the future?

    For “Flying Difficulty:”, I would have really like to of put an 8.5, because like I said, the feeling of control is not there. Ever tried to move a really weighed down shopping cart or dolly? Thats what it reminds me of.

    For “Enjoyment:”, This game is so kooky, I should have played it more than once before reviewing. The visual cues and guides are very well thought out. The Guidance Rings transforming into arrows or being giant tablet looking closed rings of not being the directly next one in line was genius. I played my first game on my laptop (speeds and quality were more than fine, no problems there), but I would have really like to of had a way to zoom out to see these rings in a larger span of view.

    Signing off.
    ~lalahsghost”

  15. Johnny Go-Time says:

    “You’ll believe an Apatosaurus can fly.”
    Best headline ever!
    (It’s a spin on the tagline for the recent Superman movie…)

  16. Andrew says:

    Just seems to crash whichever browser I try to use it with. I even got a couple of DEP errors.