The game's story is about Max, Rex, and Zoe, the members of the D-Team (of whom only Max and Rex are available as player characters). One day, they find mysterious stones that allow them to summon dinosaurs, after creating special cards from fossils, using a special device called a Dinoshot. However, an evil group called the Alpha Gang steals a Dinoshot in order to create a dinosaur empire. It is the D-Team's job to stop the Alpha Gang.
The gameplay is much like that of the Pokémon game series. Players collect dinosaurs by excavating and then cleaning fossils. Fossils are cleaned using a pick. However, the pick will only last a short time before it breaks. In addition to this, a perfectly clean fossil will produce a higher leveled dinosaur than one that is not, making it important for players to carefully use the pick.
Battles take place as random encounters on the overworld map. Each side has a maximum of three dinosaurs which they can send out. The battle system is based on the game of rock, paper, and scissors-winning allows the dinosaur to attack, losing allows the opponent dinosaur to attack, and a tie inflicts neutral damage to either side. Several of the moves in the game become more powerful according to wins or losses, or they allow attacks on a tie.
Dinosaurs become stronger as they gain levels through experience. At certain levels, they generate move cards, which can be attached to dinosaurs as the player desires. Moves vary in function from dealing damage, inflicting status effects, summoning other creatures to assist the dinosaur, or changing the battlefield itself to power up a specific type.
Dinosaurs in the game are categorised according to elemental types, which include specific types of dinosaurs. Each type also has a strength and a weakness against another type. There are 72 dinosaurs available normally in the game, not including Secret type dinosaurs or dinosaurs which can only be obtained through entering a special code at a specific place in the game.
- Fire dinosaurs include large theropods, such as Tyrannosaurus, and Giganotosaurus. Fire attacks are strong against Wind dinosaurs, but ineffective against Water dinosaurs.
- Water dinosaurs include sauropods and spinosaurs, such as Camarasaurus and Spinosaurus. They are effective against Fire dinosaurs, but weak to Lightning dinosaurs.
- Lightning dinosaurs include ceratopsian dinosaurs, such as Triceratops, and Styracosaurus. Their attacks are strong against Water dinosaurs, but weak against Earth dinosaurs.
- Earth dinosaurs include members of the thyreophora suborder, such as Stegosaurus and Ankylosaurus. They are strong against Lightning dinosaurs, but weak against Grass dinosaurs.
- Grass dinosaurs include large ornithopods, such as Parasaurolophus and Iguanodon. They are strong against Earth dinosaurs and weak against Wind dinosaurs.
- Wind dinosaurs consist of smaller theropods, such as Allosaurus and Utahraptor. The Wind type is effective against Grass dinosaurs, but weak against Fire.
- Secret dinosaurs are no specific type. They include dinosaurs such as Therizinosaurus and Eoraptor. Secret dinosaurs have no weaknesses. Secret dinosaurs are not normally available like other dinosaurs in the game; the only one that can be obtained without a cheating device, Eoraptor, is obtained when the player obtains all 72 of the normally available dinosaurs.
- There are also other dinosaurs and prehistoric reptiles that have no type, and are obtained through moves. Their functions vary from healing, inflicting more damage than usual in specific situations, or affecting the battle in another way.
Dinosaur King has a score of 61% at review aggregator Metacritic, indicating "mixed or average reviews". IGN journalist Mark Bozon gave the game a score of 6.6 out of 10, embracing its gameplay that he found nostalgic and its 3D animations, while dismissing the sound effects and bland 2D overworld.