I don’t go to arcades that often. Truth be told they’re a rarity these days and, what with times being so tough, you can hardly justify shelling out some of your hard earned pennies for so few lives. But on the odd occasion that I do venture in I am determined to make the most of the coins that I spend.
In most cases arcade cabinets are worn out by unappreciative and disrespectful patrons (it may also be an issue with build quality), it’s an almost certainty that one of the light guns, the touch-screens, the joystick, or buttons on the cabinets will not work properly and that can be rather frustrating.
But every now and again a cabinet comes along that you’ve never heard of before; it looks colourful, inviting, in working order and, most of all, it’s a lot of fun. This is the kind of cabinet that restores your faith in the prosperity of arcades in an age of home consoles.
There are a lot of legendary cabinets out there with this magical ability but the one I’m talking about in particular is Primeval Hunt. In the sea of ancient racers and brightly flashing slot machines that populate most arcades it’s a god send. Primeval Hunt is made by SEGA and I reckon it’s their greatest game to date. Forget about Sonic, he can retire now… in fact he should have retired back in 2008 when Primeval Hunt was first released.
I discovered this wonderful game in the local bowling alley – it was a new addition, featuring two pump action shot-light-guns (with speakers mounted for the first time in the ‘butt’ of each gun), and two screens, one being an eye melting 62 inch and the other a touchscreen with some nifty little features. But the most attractive aspect of this device was the opportunity to live out one of my childhood dreams. I am of course talking about venturing out into the prehistoric wilderness and ferociously slaughter as many Dinosaurs as there are bullets in my bandolier! And die those dinosaurs did. I killed them with a smile the Cheshire Cat would envy and to sweeten the deal I was able to kill them with a friend. We used something called “teamwork” and it was freaking awesome. Had it been pay day I could have quite easily spent the entire day shooting dinosaurs.
There are ten species of Dinosaur over 12 levels and 3 Bonus stages to hunt. Whether herbivore, carnivore, straight or gay, I shoot them all, shoot them dead and then I laugh! Ha ha ha! Unfortunately there are only so many bullets this arcade gem will allow you to carry, so during my prehistoric rampage I had to learn a technique called “aiming” and try to restrain my trigger happy fingers as it started to annoy my teammate when we’d get attacked by a pack of Velociraptors because I was a little too rowdy with my rifle. But when things like that happened, it wasn’t a set back, it was a challenge, one that is a joy to overcome. Sometimes it’s worth waiting for those jumpy little bastards to get right up close, it’s worth risking a life (or more specifically hats) in order to let them get right in my grill then “BAM! EAT LEAD DINO-PUNK!” followed by boastful victory chants.
For all the fun the shooting is, we had an objective, each level requires you to meet a quota of kills for a certain species, the locations of these dinos can be seen using the aforementioned touch screen interface. The screen gives a free-roaming element to the gameplay allowing you to plot your course and hopefully avoid becoming the hunted yourself. Thankfully if you do get stuck in the mud, you also have rocket launchers at your disposal as well, thanks to the touchscreen. As everyone knows stick rocket launchers in any game and it’ll improve it straight away – rocket launchers can’t possibly make anything worse.
I loved this game for many reasons; the feel of a weighted light-gun; the pump action reload; the adrenaline and the thrill it gave me; the fun that comes from working together with a friend; actually being able to aim down a sight rather than move a thumb-stick; the fact that it’s the closest I’ll ever come to hunting a T-Rex. And then there are the vital shots… OH GOD HOW I LOVE TO GET VITAL SHOTS! If you didn’t know already the vitals are the head and the heart, they are vitally important to continue living and as such, it hurts more when they shot. Vital Shots also grant extra points, bragging rights and most importantly bonuses like extra ammo or weapon upgrades providing more accuracy or damage.
The reason I think I love Primeval Hunt the most is the simple fact that it is so incredibly rewarding. After every step you take and every shot you fire the game says “good job, keep going, good job, keep going”. It’s like you’re on a sled, sliding down a snowy hill that never ends… and you shoot lizards – a good clean family friendly massacre of lizards.
You just can’t get that experience at home, it’s comparable to the cinema, going to watch a film there will always be better than watching it at home. Sure it may cost you a few more shillings, but you’re paying for unforgettable memories.