Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 8

Gameplay: 5

Overall: 5


Thrillville is an odd situation. It's a bargain with three completely separate games in one. Even better, they're three excellent games. Unfortunately, Thrillville mixes those games into a single game and convolutes a concept aiming for simplicity.

thrillvillexbox.jpg (139684 bytes)While sitting in the kids market with its bright colors, overly happy people, friendly demeanor and generally suitable content, there's enough here to grab any simulation fans attention. Taking the best parts of EA's now archaic 16 and 32-bit Theme Park and the superb PC hit Roller Coaster Tycoon, Thrillville puts you in control of various parks. Your goals vary in each, though it generally comes down to staying profitable and making enough money to advance.

Thrillville is unique with its interface. It's hard to imagine a better way to hand it on a console. You'll control a slightly customizable avatar from a third person perspective. Through this you can chat with guests, place rides or attractions, set prices, and manage all available aspects of your (hopefully) growing park. The somewhat bland graphics keep the tone light, though make it hard to imagine you're riding a roller coaster when you have the opportunity to do so from a first-person perspective.

Managing all of that is fun. The easy to access and even easier to follow interface keeps everything within a few button presses. Things go wrong when you're asked to complete and keep track of too much at one time. Tedious quests and interface problems begin to seep in through extended play.

Earning money in Thrillville isn't only done through ticket or attraction prices. You'll need to complete missions, which vary from something as odd as riding a ride (why would earn money for this?) to beating a high score set by one of your guests. Yes, Thrillville has a lot to do. That leaves hardly any time to focus on a specific aspect.

Mini-games compound these issues. Hiring employees requires training, and to do so, you'll need to complete a specific mini-game. While fun on their own, especially with some peppy kid-friendly licensed pop music in the backdrop, you'll need to repeat this multiple times whether to fully train them or to hire more help. All of this happens as your guests roam the park, and addressing their needs ends up secondary to training your new mechanic or beating Bobby's score in the arcade.

Compounding these problems are interface annoyances. In order to place a new object, you need to physically walk your character over to the area. Given the surprising size of the parks, this wastes valuable time. It's worse when you reach your destination only to realize your dream coaster doesn't fit.

Finally, the game has a bizarre conversation system with guests. It's not only tedious as you select random and flat out stupid questions that have nothing to do with anything, you can attempt to randomly create relationships between visitors. It's just a little creepy to flirt with a girl and then pick a guy you've never met to hang out with her. It supposedly makes the teenagers in your park happier, though the benefits to the extended conversations seem minimal at best.

The flashes of Thrillville's success show through in the main menu. Here you can tackle the mini-games without any other pressure. Also, you can partake in the game's superbly intuitive roller coaster builder without the hassle of a budget or limitation. The latter is the game's strongest asset, allowing for wild designs with a few presses on the d-pad, and the ability for the CPU to take over at the end to make the track complete. Sadly, you'll need to spend some time in the main game to see some of these open up.

LucasArts has a few products here, each perfectly acceptable as their own products. The multi-player mini-games are fun and addictive. With Xbox Live play, they could fit right in amongst the rest of the Xbox library. Shoved into a park simulation with only local play, they're merely an annoyance. Thrillville is worth a peek for curious simulation fans only.


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Last updated: Sunday, December 31, 2006 08:57 PM