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"[GAME] Theme Park (PSN)"

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This thread has been linked to the game 'Theme Park'.
Fri 29/10/10 at 16:52
Regular
"And in last place.."
Posts: 2,054
Management simulation games have progressed a lot over the years. With progression comes greater complexity and depth making the earlier examples seem shallow in comparison. This style of game has generally been the fodder of PC gamers , console gamers tend to prefer fast, action packed games. But some games are brave enough to venture onto the console format, games like Theme Park.

Originally released in 1994, over the last few years Theme Park has had a slight revival with a release on the DS as well as arriving as a PSOne Classic on the Playstation Network. ĎClassicí is a label that is seldom used in the correct context, you only have to look at the Ďclassicsí on the Playstation Network to see that, but does Theme Park merit the label? And more importantly, has it stood the test of time and is it worth revisiting?

The aim of the game is simple; create the best tourist attraction in the country. Starting off with a plot of land, you transform this empty space into a bustling theme park which offers the most exciting rides, a shopping experience without rival, the most attractive surroundings and the best amenities. Youíll cater for your customers each and every need and every customer will leave with a smile... if only it was that easy.

Before you start a game there are a few settings to tweak to your preference. There are 3 levels to the level of simulation but surely anything but the complete experience is a tutorial? There is the standard difficulty level setting, the number of opponents and their skill level. Ah yes, opponents. There are rival theme park owners who want to entice customers away from your park. And finally, the most important setting of all is giving your theme park a name.

There is an advisor on hand to help with a first play though and he offers some useful information, especially around pricing and he helps to ease you in gently before it picks up the pace.

Iím going to attempt to cover what is involved in the game using an example of the thinking that you will go through on a first play, bear with me.

The grassland is my canvas, itís time to create my masterpiece. First up are the rides, what is a theme park without any rides? This is all very simple, pick the ride I want, choose the desired spot, position the entrance and exit and finally build the queuing area. But how much queuing space do I use? A big queue might lead to people getting bored with the wait. A small queue means a short wait but it could lead to disappointment when an eager customer canít join the queue. Okay, decision made. Now, how long should each session on the ride last and how fast should the ride go? The customers will love a nice long ride but the people in the queue might feel different. The customers will love a fast ride, there is nothing more thrilling than a fast ride.

Right, onto the next ride.... wait a minute, there are people disembarking the bus and being confronted by my closed gates. Oh no, this isnít the happy day out I had planned for them. Best get the park open. Done. Yes, yes Mr Advisor, I know my prices are too high since Iíve only got the one ride but I canít turn people away and I was about to build the 2nd ride before you interrupted me, give me a minute. And I best build a path so the customers can actually get that 1st ride.

Okay, Iíve got all my rides in place and Iíve got the queues and ride settings just the way I want. And thank you Mr Advisor, my prices are spot on arenít they? Just look at the little people, they do look like they are having fun and just listen to the cheers and sounds of enjoyment.

Time to add some shops, a happy customer is a spending customer. There are 4 shops available from the start, a coffee shop, an ice cream shop, a balloon shop and the hook-a-duck stall. For the eating and drinking places I need to set the price. I can see how much the stock costs and I need to make a profit without scaring off the customers. For the stall I need to set the price to play, the value of the prize and the chance of winning. Hmmm, an attractive prize will draw in the punters but I better make sure I donít give out too many prizes. The coffee shop allows me to set the level of caffeine. Hmmm, a lot perhaps? No harm in having some hyperactive customers I guess. And the ice cream needs the level of sugar to be set which is obvious really... there we go, that will rot their teeth.

Okay, Iíve got some rides and some shops, time to sit back and watch the visitor numbers and profits rocket skywards. Awww look at them all walking about with their balloons. Hold on, should smoke be coming out of the ghost train? I best employ an engineer to sort that out. Oh look, the tea cups are smoking too, my engineer is going to be busy today... BOOM! Oops, looks like he didnít get to the tea cups in time. Okay, so I might need a 2nd engineer. Oh come on, the bouncy castle is smoking. And so is the tree house ride. A fleet of engineers it is. Chop, chop boys, fix the rides. Crikey, the ghost train is the only operational ride right now... and itís now smoking too. Again.

Whatís all that stuff on the ground? The dirty little swines are dropping their litter everywhere. Iíll employ a handyman to clean that up. Problem solved. Wonder why he is called a handyman, surely cleaner would be a better job title? And why are some of the people making sounds as if the place smells? Toilets! Iíve forgotten to add toilets. Wooden huts? Primitive but they will do. And a few trees might be a nice touch .

I see from the employment page that I can hire some entertainment, the visitors will love that. The guy in the shark suit earns how much? Sod that, Iíll be bankrupt in no time, the teddy bear on the pogo stick it is. Heís nice and cheap and probably does as good a job. Look at that, heís a hit.

The place is still a bit messy, I best hire another handyman. Right, come on boys, no need to go round the same area together and arenít you best being over the other side, you know, the side with all the rubbish? Iíd best throw in a 3rd handyman. Why is that one off cutting the grass? Ah so thatís why they are not called cleaners. I best set each of them some zones to concentrate on cleaning. No duplication of effort and no grass cutting.

Itís all taking shape nicely. I wonder why my coffee shop has a banner over it, that wasnít there earlier. Nobody seems to be going into it, why is that? I best have a closer look... b******s! Iíve run out of stock, I best order some immediately and keep an eye on that in future. Arrrgh, bouncy castle is smoking again, come on guys, you donít need me to point that out do you?

I can see from the financial charts that Iíve got a steady number of people on the bus, I can check my incomings and outgoings and all manner of financial information. Steady on, Iím not an accountant. But still, the graph makes it easy to follow and I can check out the various individual criteria. And there are figures if I want to further analyse.

So far so good, not doing too badly if I say so myself. Ah, the end of year results are in... 8th! 8th most popular park? The customers think my park is poor? My safety record is poor? My ride compliment is poor? Iíve got a busy 2nd season ahead.

Time to expand. I need to spend money to make money. I see from the happiness page that there are very few happy customers. Actually there seems to be no happy customers but not to worry, Rome wasnít built in a day. I can see a list of all the customer thoughts. Thatís a lot to take in but Iíll get onto it right away. I can invest money into making the rides safer and more reliable. That will help with the safety and stop my rides braking down so quickly. I can invest money into new rides. Thatís a no brainer. And new shops. Another no brainer. I can train my staff? That way they will work faster and perhaps not need me to tell them what to do all the time, yes, Iíll have some of that too. Iíll spend some money on the features, got to make the park more attractive and see if I can upgrade those toilets. There is also a category for improving the size of the warehouse and the size of the busses... more stock and more people, Iíll take it. Right, Iím investing as much money as I can and on every criteria, now Iím going somewhere.

Where are these new rides? Where are these new shops? Where are these new toilets? Why are my staff still slow and why is that bus still small? And why am I completely skint? It seems Iím spending too much on my enhancements and perhaps I should concentrate on 1 or 2 areas first before working on the others, rides and shops it is.

Oooo a maze and a burger bar! Thatís more like it. More rides = higher entrance fee, sorry people. Now Iím rolling... what is that horrible sound? It sounds like a... it is someone on a moped. Why is he not on the bus? Oh hold on, he didnít pay to get in. And heís just made that customer cry. Oh, for f***ís sake, heís just broke that ride. Iíll employ a security guard, that will sort that out.

All is calm again but hopefully not the calm before the storm. Whatís this? Wages negotiation? Good lord, Iím not agreeing to that, 20%, no chance. You can ďboooooĒ all you want, money grabbing.... wait, where are you going? Oh great, the staff are on strike and picketing outside the park. Thatís not the image I want to portray. Negotiations again. A 30% rise? No chance, Iím not paying... youíll go on strike again wonít you? Okay, okay, you got it.

More negotiations? For stock prices this time? But Iíve just shelled out a huge rise on my staff. I canít risk there being no stock though can I? Iíll offset the increase in wages and stock prices with an entrance fee increase and a big increase in prices within the park. Hmmm, hardly anyone got off the bus and nobody is spending money in the park.

Hopefully that gives you an idea of what is involved. It might not be as deep as the present management sim games but there is more to Theme Park then meets the eye, much more. At the end of each year you can opt to sell your park. You are taken to an auction screen and youíll be willing the bids to keep going. Once you have sold it is time to buy land for your next park. Each country has its own challenges, small and large populations, rich and poor, free spending or tight. The more money you make on your park the quicker you can get going on the next one.

Theme Park is a bright and colourful game, full of charm and humour but donít be fooled, underneath it takes things very seriously and it will leave you in no doubt that it isnít going to hand success to you on a plate. If you want to just balance the books, let alone make a profit, then you are going to have to take a lot of things into consideration, work hard and make some wise decisions. Youíll need to plan ahead, rides get bigger and better and water flumes and roller coasters take up much more space than the other rides.

Is it a Theme Park worth visiting? Most definitely. And it will always be a classic to me.

9
Tue 09/11/10 at 09:07
Regular
"And in last place.."
Posts: 2,054
Thanks.

I'm addicted to this game at the moment. I've got Theme Hospital as well but it's not getting a look in.
Tue 09/11/10 at 01:24
Regular
"Zebra Three 537-ONN"
Posts: 195
Congrats on the GAD for this review. Well deserved mate.
Mon 01/11/10 at 09:25
Regular
"And in last place.."
Posts: 2,054
@Torino: thanks

@Nin: if you liked the Megadrive version then you will enjoy this offering. It's the Megadrive version with some extras, if you like and the only 3D aspect is when you can go to a first person view point and walk round your park... something you will do once for a few seconds and then never again.

The graphics have stood up very well. It's a bright and colourful game, everything is clear and it is quite detailed. But how it looks on an HD TV I can't say, I play it on the PSP.

In terms of costs, it's £3.49 or £3.99, can't remember which.
Sat 30/10/10 at 00:05
Regular
"Monochromatic"
Posts: 18,487
Think I might get this depending on how much it costs. I love Theme Park, though I was more fond of the Megadrive version than the updated 3D version. How have the graphics stood up? Last time I bought a PSN game it was Final Fantasy VII and that looked bloody dreadful on my HD tv.
Fri 29/10/10 at 17:08
Regular
"Zebra Three 537-ONN"
Posts: 195
Great review, totally agree too. I loved Theme Park and Theme Hospital.
Fri 29/10/10 at 16:52
Regular
"And in last place.."
Posts: 2,054
Management simulation games have progressed a lot over the years. With progression comes greater complexity and depth making the earlier examples seem shallow in comparison. This style of game has generally been the fodder of PC gamers , console gamers tend to prefer fast, action packed games. But some games are brave enough to venture onto the console format, games like Theme Park.

Originally released in 1994, over the last few years Theme Park has had a slight revival with a release on the DS as well as arriving as a PSOne Classic on the Playstation Network. ĎClassicí is a label that is seldom used in the correct context, you only have to look at the Ďclassicsí on the Playstation Network to see that, but does Theme Park merit the label? And more importantly, has it stood the test of time and is it worth revisiting?

The aim of the game is simple; create the best tourist attraction in the country. Starting off with a plot of land, you transform this empty space into a bustling theme park which offers the most exciting rides, a shopping experience without rival, the most attractive surroundings and the best amenities. Youíll cater for your customers each and every need and every customer will leave with a smile... if only it was that easy.

Before you start a game there are a few settings to tweak to your preference. There are 3 levels to the level of simulation but surely anything but the complete experience is a tutorial? There is the standard difficulty level setting, the number of opponents and their skill level. Ah yes, opponents. There are rival theme park owners who want to entice customers away from your park. And finally, the most important setting of all is giving your theme park a name.

There is an advisor on hand to help with a first play though and he offers some useful information, especially around pricing and he helps to ease you in gently before it picks up the pace.

Iím going to attempt to cover what is involved in the game using an example of the thinking that you will go through on a first play, bear with me.

The grassland is my canvas, itís time to create my masterpiece. First up are the rides, what is a theme park without any rides? This is all very simple, pick the ride I want, choose the desired spot, position the entrance and exit and finally build the queuing area. But how much queuing space do I use? A big queue might lead to people getting bored with the wait. A small queue means a short wait but it could lead to disappointment when an eager customer canít join the queue. Okay, decision made. Now, how long should each session on the ride last and how fast should the ride go? The customers will love a nice long ride but the people in the queue might feel different. The customers will love a fast ride, there is nothing more thrilling than a fast ride.

Right, onto the next ride.... wait a minute, there are people disembarking the bus and being confronted by my closed gates. Oh no, this isnít the happy day out I had planned for them. Best get the park open. Done. Yes, yes Mr Advisor, I know my prices are too high since Iíve only got the one ride but I canít turn people away and I was about to build the 2nd ride before you interrupted me, give me a minute. And I best build a path so the customers can actually get that 1st ride.

Okay, Iíve got all my rides in place and Iíve got the queues and ride settings just the way I want. And thank you Mr Advisor, my prices are spot on arenít they? Just look at the little people, they do look like they are having fun and just listen to the cheers and sounds of enjoyment.

Time to add some shops, a happy customer is a spending customer. There are 4 shops available from the start, a coffee shop, an ice cream shop, a balloon shop and the hook-a-duck stall. For the eating and drinking places I need to set the price. I can see how much the stock costs and I need to make a profit without scaring off the customers. For the stall I need to set the price to play, the value of the prize and the chance of winning. Hmmm, an attractive prize will draw in the punters but I better make sure I donít give out too many prizes. The coffee shop allows me to set the level of caffeine. Hmmm, a lot perhaps? No harm in having some hyperactive customers I guess. And the ice cream needs the level of sugar to be set which is obvious really... there we go, that will rot their teeth.

Okay, Iíve got some rides and some shops, time to sit back and watch the visitor numbers and profits rocket skywards. Awww look at them all walking about with their balloons. Hold on, should smoke be coming out of the ghost train? I best employ an engineer to sort that out. Oh look, the tea cups are smoking too, my engineer is going to be busy today... BOOM! Oops, looks like he didnít get to the tea cups in time. Okay, so I might need a 2nd engineer. Oh come on, the bouncy castle is smoking. And so is the tree house ride. A fleet of engineers it is. Chop, chop boys, fix the rides. Crikey, the ghost train is the only operational ride right now... and itís now smoking too. Again.

Whatís all that stuff on the ground? The dirty little swines are dropping their litter everywhere. Iíll employ a handyman to clean that up. Problem solved. Wonder why he is called a handyman, surely cleaner would be a better job title? And why are some of the people making sounds as if the place smells? Toilets! Iíve forgotten to add toilets. Wooden huts? Primitive but they will do. And a few trees might be a nice touch .

I see from the employment page that I can hire some entertainment, the visitors will love that. The guy in the shark suit earns how much? Sod that, Iíll be bankrupt in no time, the teddy bear on the pogo stick it is. Heís nice and cheap and probably does as good a job. Look at that, heís a hit.

The place is still a bit messy, I best hire another handyman. Right, come on boys, no need to go round the same area together and arenít you best being over the other side, you know, the side with all the rubbish? Iíd best throw in a 3rd handyman. Why is that one off cutting the grass? Ah so thatís why they are not called cleaners. I best set each of them some zones to concentrate on cleaning. No duplication of effort and no grass cutting.

Itís all taking shape nicely. I wonder why my coffee shop has a banner over it, that wasnít there earlier. Nobody seems to be going into it, why is that? I best have a closer look... b******s! Iíve run out of stock, I best order some immediately and keep an eye on that in future. Arrrgh, bouncy castle is smoking again, come on guys, you donít need me to point that out do you?

I can see from the financial charts that Iíve got a steady number of people on the bus, I can check my incomings and outgoings and all manner of financial information. Steady on, Iím not an accountant. But still, the graph makes it easy to follow and I can check out the various individual criteria. And there are figures if I want to further analyse.

So far so good, not doing too badly if I say so myself. Ah, the end of year results are in... 8th! 8th most popular park? The customers think my park is poor? My safety record is poor? My ride compliment is poor? Iíve got a busy 2nd season ahead.

Time to expand. I need to spend money to make money. I see from the happiness page that there are very few happy customers. Actually there seems to be no happy customers but not to worry, Rome wasnít built in a day. I can see a list of all the customer thoughts. Thatís a lot to take in but Iíll get onto it right away. I can invest money into making the rides safer and more reliable. That will help with the safety and stop my rides braking down so quickly. I can invest money into new rides. Thatís a no brainer. And new shops. Another no brainer. I can train my staff? That way they will work faster and perhaps not need me to tell them what to do all the time, yes, Iíll have some of that too. Iíll spend some money on the features, got to make the park more attractive and see if I can upgrade those toilets. There is also a category for improving the size of the warehouse and the size of the busses... more stock and more people, Iíll take it. Right, Iím investing as much money as I can and on every criteria, now Iím going somewhere.

Where are these new rides? Where are these new shops? Where are these new toilets? Why are my staff still slow and why is that bus still small? And why am I completely skint? It seems Iím spending too much on my enhancements and perhaps I should concentrate on 1 or 2 areas first before working on the others, rides and shops it is.

Oooo a maze and a burger bar! Thatís more like it. More rides = higher entrance fee, sorry people. Now Iím rolling... what is that horrible sound? It sounds like a... it is someone on a moped. Why is he not on the bus? Oh hold on, he didnít pay to get in. And heís just made that customer cry. Oh, for f***ís sake, heís just broke that ride. Iíll employ a security guard, that will sort that out.

All is calm again but hopefully not the calm before the storm. Whatís this? Wages negotiation? Good lord, Iím not agreeing to that, 20%, no chance. You can ďboooooĒ all you want, money grabbing.... wait, where are you going? Oh great, the staff are on strike and picketing outside the park. Thatís not the image I want to portray. Negotiations again. A 30% rise? No chance, Iím not paying... youíll go on strike again wonít you? Okay, okay, you got it.

More negotiations? For stock prices this time? But Iíve just shelled out a huge rise on my staff. I canít risk there being no stock though can I? Iíll offset the increase in wages and stock prices with an entrance fee increase and a big increase in prices within the park. Hmmm, hardly anyone got off the bus and nobody is spending money in the park.

Hopefully that gives you an idea of what is involved. It might not be as deep as the present management sim games but there is more to Theme Park then meets the eye, much more. At the end of each year you can opt to sell your park. You are taken to an auction screen and youíll be willing the bids to keep going. Once you have sold it is time to buy land for your next park. Each country has its own challenges, small and large populations, rich and poor, free spending or tight. The more money you make on your park the quicker you can get going on the next one.

Theme Park is a bright and colourful game, full of charm and humour but donít be fooled, underneath it takes things very seriously and it will leave you in no doubt that it isnít going to hand success to you on a plate. If you want to just balance the books, let alone make a profit, then you are going to have to take a lot of things into consideration, work hard and make some wise decisions. Youíll need to plan ahead, rides get bigger and better and water flumes and roller coasters take up much more space than the other rides.

Is it a Theme Park worth visiting? Most definitely. And it will always be a classic to me.

9

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