This was the original idea for Dinosaur King. It was immensely popular in Japan. They also hold periodical tournaments such as this video on the right. Tournaments were also announced on the KyoryuKing.com website.
Dr. Taylor was on a paleontology mission in Africa with his son Max and Max's friend, Rex. Max discovers stone slabs and finds dinosaurs are calling them for help. An evil organization called the "Alpha Gang", led by the nefarious Dr. Z, traveled back in time to hunt down the dinosaurs and use them to take over the world. It is up to Max and Rex to travel around the world, defeating Dr. Z and the Alpha Gang while hunting down the dinosaurs.
The story keeps expanding as the machine keeps upgrading.
In one such story, Max and Rex travel back with a "D-Watch" and find Alpha Droids building a base. Max then defeats them and wrecks the base, but Rex is captured by Dr. Z as Max battles Zander. He then tries to get to their other base, but is attacked by Rod and Laura. He then battles Ed and Seth when Zoe shows up and helps defeat them.
Max and Zoe head to the Alpha Fortress and Max defeats Ed again, then Zoe beats Ursula. They beat Rod and Laura again and rescue Rex, when Dr. Z is trying to create Alpha Dinosaurs. Max and Rex defeat him while Zoe destroys the machine turning the dinosaurs into Alpha Dinosaurs, but he escapes.
The above information marks the end of Dinosaur King arcade distribution to Asia and Europe. Japan will then begin to add in Spectral Pirates into the conflict. The cards will begin to have Super Dinosaurs and the Armored Dinosaurs.
Gameplay is a fairly simple 1v1 mechanic based on Rock-Paper-Scissors. Upon starting, the arcade machine dispenses to the player a random physical card (either Dinosaur or Move) that can be used for this or later games. A player can either select to control a default dinosaur within the machine (like the gray arcade Triceratops), or "slash" a Dinosaur Card they have (in a manner like a credit card) on the machine, and then can slash up to three Move Cards to be used, one of each Sign. They are then faced with a (seemingly) random automated opponent, or a second player can slash a set of cards, assuming 2-Player Mode was selected at the beginning.
The game is comprised of a series of rounds. Each round, the player has 10 seconds to select to attack with either Rock, Paper, or Scissors (Dinosaurs have an Attack stat for each Sign, with their strongest being their "Critical Move", the Sign their card shows). In the same 10 seconds, the either automated or Player 2 opponent does the same. The selected Signs are compared according to the standard Rock-Paper-Scissors rules, and the winner attacks the loser, deducting the used Sign's Attack stat points from the loser's Power (health) stat points. If a tie occurs, both players are hit for minimal damage. Identically structured rounds repeat until one Dinosaur's Power (indicated by their health bar at the top of the screen) has been depleted. Interesting to note, while the camera view of the Japanese arcade game remains stationary off to the side between the fighters except during Move Card usage, the camera for the English arcade game jumps around to see different angles of the dinosaurs during the attack selection stage.
Move Cards are activated under conditions dictated by the individual cards. Most Moves allow the winner to give a stronger attack either after or instead of the normal hit. The effectiveness of most Moves are determined by the Dinosaur's Technique stat (higher Technique, usually accompanied by less Power, makes for stronger Move attacks). Nine specific Normal Moves have their effectiveness determined by how close the Dinosaur's Technique stat is to a given number: below means poor usage, above is decent usage, but right on is recommended for best results. Depending on their effect, some Moves instead activate upon a loss, tie, or after a given sequence of events, the more complex setups typically belonging to the stronger Moves. Some particularly "overpowered" Moves (such as Life-Force Swap) are typically banned from being used in official tournaments, else every player would likely only use those. (However, from tournament videos, it seems that Dino Stuffer is often used.)
Especially in story mode campaigns, there exist 2v2 battles. They operate exactly like 1v1, with the second dinosaur staying off on the sidelines when unused, with only two differences. One: each turn during attack selection, a player is given the option to switch the battling dinosaur (the icon at right shows they have chosen to do so), but the switch is only successful if they win that round, the standby dinosaur also taking a small hit if they fail to switch. Even if a switch attempt fails, the standby dinosaur will always switch in if the battling dinosaur runs out of health. And two: standby dinosaurs will automatically activate their Element's initial After-effect Move upon random wins by the fighting dinosaur, the effect benefiting the fighter, even if that Move isn't equipped to it.
- Main article: Special Arcade Cards
Some cards in the arcade, usually extremely rare dinosaurs and character cards, can be received by trading with official Japanese offices. This process requires stamps for approval. Character cards are used by players to play as characters other than Max and Rex in Two-Player battles. However, these cards have another purpose.
In Single Player mode, swiping a D-Team character card unlocks a mode where players battle against Dinoman's (Dr. Taylor) dinosaurs.
Swiping an Alpha Gang character card unlocks the "Alpha Exam" mode. This puts players against fellow Alpha Gang members.
Both of these secret modes feature A.I. that are much more difficult than those found in the typically playable Arcade story since less hints are provided.
In the arcade, Types are provided to each dinosaur. They are typically passive perks used for battle. More details is provided on the Types page. New Types are distributed to each Dinosaur card every time an update is made to the story and Dinosaur and Move Card are added to the machine itself.