January 22, 2001
One of the most enjoyable games in the 1990's was Bullfrog's Theme Park. Such was the success of the title that a spin-off called Theme Hospital was developed which also sold very well. Bullfrog have decided to return to the theme park to create yet another game, Theme Park World, or Theme Park Roller Coaster as it is known in America. This is a simulation game, based entirely within one theme park. Your task is not only run the park but build it from the ground up, and that includes all the rides.
You begin the game with a small amount of money to build your park. From a top-down perspective your task is to place all the paths, rides, stalls, food stands, decorations and just about anything else you can think of. Naturally, you will have to hire entertainers, mechanics, cleaners and security guards to run the park, all of which get paid monthly by their skill levels. After opening the theme park you need to set the prices for everything from entry, to food and of course the rides. As you earn more money you can invest in new attractions to interest and attract new customers to your park, and away from competitors.
After the basics of the theme park are worked out you can them move into more detail. You have to research new rides and attractions before you can install them, and can start tweaking all the smaller options. For instance more salt on the chips will make the customers thirsty. As a result you will sell more drinks, but also run the risk of making them sick if there is too much salt. It is also possible to see what each of the people think about your park. Do they need more toilets? Are they hungry? Are they bored? Try to keep track of their needs. The happier they are the longer they will stay and the more money they will spend in your park.
One of the most enjoyable aspects of this game is the ability to build your own roller coasters. You place every twist, turn, dip and loop on the ride to make it the most exciting ever. But you must be careful. Too scary and the customers won't go on it. Too boring and they will go elsewhere. The best part however, and one that is new to the Playstation 2 version of the game, is that you can actually ride the roller coaster to see for yourself how good it is.
So are there any problems with this game? Well not to manym, that's for sure. Perhaps the developers could have enhanced the game a little more with some more options and scenarios. As with most simulation games there is little to do when you run out of money. You just have to sit there and wait for more people to pay the entrance fee and go on the rides. More ride variety would have been good as well, although with over 80 rides it will take a while for you to research and buy them all. Another minor niggle is the controls. This game is just so much better with a mouse and keyboard, but I guess the controller was the only option here.
Graphics have been greatly improved for this Playstation 2 version of Theme Park World. It is now possible to ride the roller coasters in 3D to give you a sense of how much fun it would be in real life. The typical top-down perspective is quite detailed with people and workers scurrying about the place. You can even view the amount of litter or if your stomach can take it, the vomit on the ground. The frame rate is more then adequate for a simulation game.
Sound wise you should love this game. Theme Park World sounds exactly how a real-life theme park sounds; crying kids, people screaming on rides, crying, vomiting people. It wouldn't come as a surprise to hear that EA actually went to theme parks around the world to record the sounds. The music is also suitably joyful with carnival type music throughout the game that never becomes boring.
Theme Park World is yet another great title from Electronic Arts. The game is one of the best simulations ever and the addition of a 3D mode, while purely cosmetic in reality, adds so much to the atmosphere and fun of the game. If you've ever wanted to own a Theme Park, create your own rides or just enjoy one of the best simulations ever then you can't go past this game. It's an absolute ball.