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Exoprimal Has Nothing to do With Dino Crisis, But It Should

How did Capcom make a game about fighting teleporting dinosaurs that doesn't connect to its other game about fighting teleporting dinosaurs?

Exoprimal is a game about mysterious waves of dinosaurs that appear out of random portals and proceed to wreak havoc on human civilization. If you’re old enough — or dabble in survival horror from the late 90s and early 2000s — this may have immediately reminded you of Capcom’s other games about random dinosaurs from nowhere. Specifically, this means the Dino Crisis series, which has been mostly relegated to cameo-appearance hell since 2003. However, Exoprimal‘s developers have said there are no specific ties between the two, which is unfortunate.

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This isn’t a question of simply wanting a revival of the franchise, although I wouldn’t have a problem with that. Instead, it’s that 2000’s Dino Crisis 2 ended on a time-travel cliffhanger that Capcom has mostly let sit for the last 23 years. Exoprimal would’ve been a great chance to address that.

Related: Exoprimal Review: Occasionally T-Rexcellent

Image via Capcom

Shooting Up Raptors Since 1999

The cliffhanger in question comes from 2000’s Dino Crisis 2, an actionized sequel to the original survival horror game. The console version of DC2 is still a PlayStation exclusive, while a later 2002 PC port is currently abandonware.

To vastly oversimplify a convoluted story, the various dinosaur issues in Dino Crisis come from Third Energy, an experimental clean power source that’s also prone to creating holes in space-time. That’s how you end up with T-rexes and velociraptors in the modern day.

In Dino Crisis 2, a new experiment with Third Energy in 2010 swaps out a research facility and a nearby small town, Edward City, with a stretch of prehistoric jungle. A squad of soldiers is sent to investigate and rescue any survivors. You take the roles of both Regina, the returning protagonist from the original Dino Crisis, and newcomer Dylan Morton, a Special Forces soldier turned mercenary.

Unsurprisingly, the mission goes bad as soon as it starts, which strands Regina and Dylan in what appears to be their distant past. They’ve also accidentally showed up 20 years after Edward City’s initial time jump, so they’re far too late to save anyone. This all leads into the central plot twist of DC2, which turns out to be that–

–spoiler warning, if you never quite managed to get around to DC2 in the last 23 years–

–the game is set in an unstable time loop. Regina and Dylan aren’t in the past at all; they’re 3 million years in the future, in a sort of dinosaur terrarium that was created by a team from the 2050s. That team’s leader is an older version of Dylan. Even better, a strange mute woman who’s been harassing both Dylan and Regina over the course of the game turns out to be a daughter, Paula, who Dylan hasn’t had yet.

In the end, Dylan and Regina are able to activate a time gate that can take them back to 2010, but Paula gets hit and trapped by some fallen debris. Dylan stays with her and sends Regina through the gate, insisting that she needs to come right back and rescue them. The game ends with Regina’s escape as the facility explodes around Dylan and Paula.

Image via Capcom

Dinosaurs in Space

On paper, this is a classic time-travel sequel hook. The grandfather paradox indicates Dylan must have survived because Paula exists, but his survival is entirely in Regina’s hands. It was just a question of how she’d do it, which neatly set up a future game in the series.

Instead, the next Dino Crisis game had nothing to do with it. 2003’s Dino Crisis 3 is an Xbox exclusive, a notorious flop, and an in-name-only sequel where you’re fighting cloned hybrid dinosaurs aboard a 26th-century colony ship. I actually got a fair distance into DC3 on the hopes that it would have some third-act plot twist related to DC2, but no such luck.

That seemed like it was it for Dino Crisis for the last 20 years, which meant Regina’s been stuck in a time portal for two decades with no resolution to her story in sight. Exoprimal, as a Capcom game about fighting time-traveling dinosaurs, seemed like a perfect chance to address that, and even has a redhead like Regina in a prominent position. Then Capcom said it had nothing to do with Dino Crisis, and I got sort of sad.

Hey, Remember Dino Stalker? (You Don’t)

That all being said, it turns out the real problem was that Capcom did address the DC2 cliffhanger. It’s just that it did it in classic early-2000s Capcom style, where it’s hidden somewhere that nobody would ever think to look for it.

Specifically, it’s in Dino Stalker, a slightly obscure 2002 PlayStation 2 rail shooter, which is also known as Gun Survivor 3: Dino Crisis in Japan. You play Dino Stalker as WWII fighter pilot Mike Wired, who’s abducted from the moment of his death in 1943 to help Paula with a mutant dinosaur called Trinity, as well as a time-space distortion that could destroy Earth.

Towards the end of Dino Stalker, Dylan shows up, still dressed in his DC2 gear, to explain the game’s plot to Mike. That means the game’s conclusively set after DC2’s ending.

Subsequently, in Dino Stalker’s ending, Paula uses technology from the 2050s to edit Mike’s timeline, which prevents his death in 1943. It suggests that Regina could’ve used the same tech to bail out Dylan and Paula, and wouldn’t even have needed to time-travel again to do it.

I’ll admit that it’s an answer, which is more than I thought I had when I sat down to write this. It’s mostly implied, it’s a serious anticlimax, and it’s not in a game named Dino Crisis, but it’s an answer.

Even so, the first thing I thought of when I heard of Exoprimal was Dino Crisis, and a potential return for Regina after more than 20 years. While Dino Crisis is more complicated than it needed to be, Exoprimal’s story was and is still a perfect opportunity to reintroduce its story to modern players, three full console generations later. If Capcom doesn’t have the two properties interact in some significant way, such as by having Regina pop out of a time portal at some point, it’s a lost opportunity.

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Thomas Wilde
Survival horror enthusiast. Veteran of the print era. Comic book nerd.