Theme Park


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 7

Sound: 5

Gameplay: 6

Overall: 6


A classic PC title released in 1995, this Bullfrog-developed simulation is nearing the record for number of times ported since its original release. Owners of the CD32, 3DO, Genesis, Jaguar, PlayStation, Saturn, along with European owners of the Super NES and Sega CD can enjoy this one. Add the DS to that lot, and it’s still a game worth playing despite some annoying issues.

The goal is simple. You’re given an empty lot, a stack of money, and you’ll set off to build a theme park. As you clear the presented challenges over the course of a few game years, you can build new parks all over the world.

Not much has been altered for this DS edition. The bottom screen contains the interface, and all sprite-based graphics remain as they did over 12 year ago. The top screen provides a map and generally awful advice from a chosen park advisor. A training mode explains the basics, yet leaves out much of the complicated aspects from higher difficulty levels such as keeping shops stocked with product and negotiations.

Almost everything is handled with the touch screen. Buttons or the d-pad move a camera around to different areas of the park. In a nice move, simply tapping your selection isn’t enough. You’ll need to circle or draw a check mark on the item, helping the player avoid costly mistakes.

Problems arise as you’re not able to rotate the screen. Trying to place an object behind another piece is rough. Creating a roller coaster, which takes some time to research before the option even becomes available, is even worse.

Difficulty can be frustrating for newer players. As guests become bored with no new additions and research has stalled, there’s a chance that restarting from scratch is your only option to keep them coming back. Closing the park and rebuilding is hard for anyone, even the experienced Theme Park veteran. Negotiations can quickly raise the rates of workers and vendors if you’re not careful.

The lack of real world dollar values also seems a bit ridiculous. Charging $500 for entry into the park and an additional $300 for a drink is completely acceptable here. Consistently hearing from your advisor about raising the French fry prices to $250 shouldn’t make you feel guilty. It’s part of the game.

With the passage of time, games such as Roller Coaster Tycoon have long since surpassed this strategy classic. This is nowhere near as in-depth in terms of visitor AI or ride creation. That said, the term classic isn’t used here for nothing, and this DS version proves Theme Park can still hold its own despite the flaws.


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Last updated: Monday, August 20, 2007 10:46 PM