Prehistoric Isle
Prehistoric Isle arcade flyer.jpg
Producer(s)Eikichi Kawasaki
Designer(s)Hideki Fujiwara
Violetche Nakamoto
Tomomi M.
Programmer(s)Itsam Matarca
Takoguti Kamen 001
Composer(s)Toshikazu Tanaka
Yoko Osaka
SeriesPrehistoric Isle
Genre(s)Scrolling shooter
Mode(s)Single-player, co-op
Arcade systemSNK Unique[4]

Prehistoric Isle[a] is a 1989 scrolling shooter arcade video game originally developed and published by SNK.[1] Set during the 1930s, where ships at The Bahamas mysteriously disappeared, players assume the role of U.S. Marine pilots taking control of biplanes in a reconnaissance assignment at "Greenhell Isle", a fictional island inhabited by dinosaurs and creatures thought to be extinct. Headed by a director under the pseudonym of "Yah!", the game was developed by most of the same team that would later work on several projects for the Neo Geo platforms at SNK. Although first launched in arcades, the title has since been re-released through download services and compilations for various consoles. It received positive reception since its initial arcade release from critics who praised the visuals, sound design, gameplay and originality. A sequel, Prehistoric Isle 2, was released in 1999 for the Neo Geo MVS but garnered less success than its predecessor.


Gameplay screenshot.
Gameplay screenshot.

Prehistoric Isle is a scrolling shoot 'em up game reminiscent of R-Type where players assume the role of U.S. Marine pilots taking control of biplanes, which are sent on a reconnaissance assignment through five increasingly difficult stages at "Greenhell Isle", a fictional island inhabited by dinosaurs and creatures thought to be extinct.[5][6][7][8][9][10] The players control their plane over a constantly scrolling background and the scenery never stops moving until a boss that must be fought before progressing any further is reached.[6][7][10] Players have only one weapon at their disposal: the standard shot that travels a max distance of the screen's length. A unique gameplay feature is the satellite "option";[5][6][7][10] when collecting a "P" icon by destroying dinosaur eggs, the players gain a satellite "option" similar to R-Type, which fires multiple types of weapons depending on its current stoptrack position. Various other items can also be picked up along the way such as speed increasers and "$" icons for points.[7][10] If the player's plane is hit by enemies, enemy fire or enough neanderthals climb onto it, a life is lost but they will be respawned with the penalty of decreasing the plane's firepower to its original state.[10]


In the 1930s, ships that sailed near The Bahamas began to disappear mysteriously, with the United States and neighbor countries deciding to task an investigation team from the U.S. Marine to determine the cause. When surveying the ocean, the expedition crew comes across an uncharted land dubbed "Greenhell Isle" and launches two reconnaissance biplanes to examine further. During their research, the biplanes come under attack by dinosaurs and creatures thought to be extinct.[5][10]

Development and release

Prehistoric Isle was created by most of the same team that would later work on several projects for the Neo Geo platforms at SNK.[2][3][11][12] Its development was helmed by a director under the pseudonym of "Yah!", with Eikichi Kawasaki serving as producer.[2][3] The coding work was handled by two programmers under the pseudonyms of Itsam Matarca and Takoguti Kamen 001 respectively.[2][3] Hideki Fujiwara, Violetche Nakamoto, Tomomi M. and "Yokochan" acted as the project's designers.[2][3] The soundtrack was co-written by Shinsekai Gakkyoku Zatsugidan composers Toshikazu Tanaka and Yoko Osaka, with Tanaka writing the names of each music track.[2][3][11][12]

Prehistoric Isle was first released in arcades across Japan, North America and Europe by SNK in 1989.[1] Prior to launch, it was showcased in a playable state at the 1989 AOU Show.[13][14] The same year on September 21, an album containing its soundtrack was co-published exclusively in Japan by Scitron and Pony Canyon.[11][15] The game was first re-released by SNK Playmore in Japan as part of the SNK Arcade Classics 0 compilation for PlayStation Portable in 2011.[16] Later during the same year, the title was later ported to PlayStation Network by G1M2.[10][17][18] It was also included as part of the SNK 40th Anniversary Collection compilation.[19]


Prehistoric Isle was met with positive reception since its initial launch in arcades.[26][27][28] In Japan, Game Machine listed it on their July 1, 1989 issue as being the sixth most-successful table arcade unit of the month, outperforming titles such as Arbalester, Crack Down and Dynasty Wars.[29]


A sequel to Prehistoric Isle had already been teased during its credits sequence.[2] Prehistoric Isle 2 was released in 1999 for the Neo Geo MVS but proved to be less popular than its predecessor.[30] It was later re-released in recent years for the PlayStation Network, Nintendo eShop and Xbox Live.[31]


  1. ^ Also known as Primitive Island (Japanese: 原始島, Hepburn: Genshi-Tō) in Japan, Prehistoric Isle in 1930 and Genshi-Tō 1930's at Japanese and western title screens.


  1. ^ a b c d Akagi, Masumi (13 October 2006). SNK プレイモア (新日本企画、 プレイモア)SNK; SNK; P. アーケードTVゲームリスト 国内•海外編 (1971-2005) (in Japanese) (1st ed.). Amusement News Agency. pp. 18, 134, 161. ISBN 978-4990251215.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g SNK (1989). Prehistoric Isle (Arcade). SNK. Level/area: Making Staff.
  3. ^ a b c d e f "Prehistoric Isle in 1930". Archived from the original on 2016-03-03. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  4. ^ "SNK Unique Hardware (SNK)". Archived from the original on 2019-09-16. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  5. ^ a b c Prehistoric Isle arcade flyer (SNK, EU)
  6. ^ a b c Zenji (July 1989). "紹介 - 原始島". Gamest (in Japanese). No. 34. Shinseisha. pp. 106–107.
  7. ^ a b c d Kenjō, Kōji (June 1989). "Super Soft Corner: Video Game - 原始島". Micom BASIC Magazine (in Japanese). No. 84. The Dempa Shimbunsha Corporation. pp. 288–290.
  8. ^ Ishii, Zenji (August 1989). "攻略 - 原始島". Gamest (in Japanese). No. 35. Shinseisha. pp. 15–16.
  9. ^ Labiner, Michael (December 1989). "Coin-Op". Amiga Joker (in German). No. 2. Joker-Verlag. pp. 78–79.
  10. ^ a b c d e f g Tiraboschi, Federico (February 12, 2017). "Prehistoric Isle". Hardcore Gaming 101. Archived from the original on November 11, 2019. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  11. ^ a b c "PCCB-00002 | Genshitou". VGMdb. Archived from the original on 2016-04-14. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  12. ^ a b Greening, Chris (January 12, 2016). "Toshikazu Tanaka Interview: The King of Fighters". Video Game Music Online. Archived from the original on February 5, 2016. Retrieved 2020-06-08.
  13. ^ Zuruzuru (May 1989). "特集記事 - '89 AOU ショー: SNK - 原始島". Gamest (in Japanese). No. 32. Shinseisha. p. 55.
  14. ^ Kenjō, Kōji (May 1989). "'89 AOU Amusement Expo Report: 原始島 (SNK)". Micom BASIC Magazine (in Japanese). No. 83. The Dempa Shimbunsha Corporation. p. 284.
  15. ^ "GAMEST12プレゼント". Gamest (in Japanese). No. 39. Shinseisha. December 1989. p. 92.
  16. ^ Fletcher, J.C. (February 1, 2011). "'SNK Arcade Classics 0' for PSP goes deep into the back catalog". Engadget. Verizon Media. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  17. ^ "Dos clásicos más de SNK llegan a PlayStation Network: Son Prehistoric Isle y P.O.W. - Prisoners of War". Vandal (in Spanish). El Español. December 20, 2011. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  18. ^ a b De La Cruz, Jasper Nikki (January 1, 2012). "Prehistoric Isle in 1930 Review—Best I've Ever Had". PSP Minis. Archived from the original on December 1, 2019. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  19. ^ Falagán, Martín Amechazurra (April 8, 2018). "Anunciado SNK 40th Anniversary Collection para Nintendo Switch". Hobby Consolas (in Spanish). Axel Springer SE. Archived from the original on April 24, 2018. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  20. ^ Cook, Brad (1998). "Prehistoric Isle [European] (Arcade) - Review". AllGame. All Media Network. Archived from the original on 16 November 2014. Retrieved 7 June 2020.
  21. ^ "Arcade Action - Prehistoric Isle". Computer and Video Games. No. 92. EMAP. June 1989. p. 80. Archived from the original on 2016-04-03. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  22. ^ RaptorClaw (April 14, 2014). "Test de Prehistoric Isle in 1930 sur PSP par". (in French). Webedia. Archived from the original on October 12, 2014. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  23. ^ "Coin Ops: Prehistoric Isle - SNK". Sinclair User. No. 87. EMAP. June 1989. p. 74.
  24. ^ "Sous Les Arcades: Prehistoric Isle in 1930 (SNK)". Génération 4 (in French). No. 13. Computec Media France. July 1989. p. 80.
  25. ^ "Retro Round-Up: Prehistoric Isle In 1930". Retro Gamer. No. 100. Imagine Publishing. March 1, 2012. p. 100.
  26. ^ Smith, Andy (July 1989). "Arcade Ace: Extended Play - Prehistoric Isle". ACE. No. 22. EMAP. p. 23. Archived from the original on 2016-03-26. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  27. ^ Sanz, Juan Carlos; Fernandez, Lázaro (June 1999). "Sala de máquinas - Prehistoric Isle". Superjuegos (in Spanish). No. 86. Grupo Zeta. pp. 130–131.
  28. ^ Jones, Darran (July 27, 2008). "Prehistoric Isle In 1930". Retro Gamer. Retrieved 2020-06-07.
  29. ^ "Game Machine's Best Hit Games 25 - テーブル型TVゲーム機 (Table Videos)". Game Machine (in Japanese). No. 359. Amusement Press, Inc. 1 July 1989. p. 25.
  30. ^ "Dossier: Neo Geo Y SNK — Shooters". GamesTech (in Spanish). No. 11. Ares Informática. July 2003. p. 59.
  31. ^ Moyse, Chris (August 8, 2018). "Prehistoric Isle 2 was the dinosaur-based shmup 1999 needed - Welcome... to Prehistoric Isle". Destructoid. Enthusiast Gaming. Retrieved 2020-06-08.