Review by GavLuvsGA
"A Very Addictive Simulation Game"
Wow, I love theme park simulations. I remember playing something rather similar on the Genesis called simply, Theme Park. Rollercoaster Tycoon is similar to that, only much, much better.
Gameplay - 9/10
You will be presented with a number of scenarios where you have to develop a theme park, usually with an aim towards increasing the number of customers or increasing the value of the park by a certain amount within a specified time. Doing so will unlock further scenarios. You can increase the value by researching new rides and other features to make your park look attractive, and sometimes you can actually design your rides - such as fancy rollercoasters, or go karting tracks. Sometimes you will need to start from scratch, or you may get a park with lots of rides that needs improvement (for example, on the Ivory Towers scenario you will find an old theme park that is swamped with litter and has been heavily vandalised).
Designing rollercoasters can be fun, but it is also very tricky. It may take some practise to make your coasters so they are both safe and exciting, and you may at first find points where the entire thing goes wrong and a train ends up crashing (so, be sure to test drive them first). The coasters can crash, killing guests (quite alarming the first time you see it happen). Also, they cost a lot of money, so often the pre-built coasters are easier for your patience - if you have room to fit them in. The other annoyance with building coasters is the view, which is isometric and 3-Dimensional, but you can only view the park from four angles, rather than being able to rotate freely, so sometimes two bits of track may appear to connect from one angle, then you will switch angles and realise that they are in fact a long way apart. Your rollercoasters and other rides also need to be maintained frequently to reduce the likelihood of your coasters crashing, and also the carousel going out of control which - while amusing - will make a lot of guests lose their dinners, if you get my meaning.
To add interest, there are a large variety of scenarios, including very hilly parks that are ideal for creating underground coasters, a couple of very small parks, one very large park, a seaside pier and unconventional ones such as a former coal mine. You will often find yourself having to bulldoze land and trees in order to fit in your rides, and you can also sometimes buy extra land. It is a shame that the general rules seem to stay the same in almost every case; within the standard theme parks (if you don't have any of the expansions), there is one scenario where removal of trees and alteration to landscape is forbidden and therefore impossible, but the remaining parks have nothing of this sort, aside from occasionally being incredibly small.
The main point of the game is of course to satisfy customers, and you should therefore make your rides exciting, but not too nauseating or customers will be put off - so if your rides aren't right, they will walk towards the queuing area and then turn around and go elsewhere. Also, you have to make sure you cater for their hunger and toilet needs, as well as making sure they don't get lost by removing dead ends and putting up stands where they can buy maps, and these people can be rather stupid at times - putting in large paved areas will often cause them to start walking around in circles, and you may end up getting a large number of message telling you an endless stream of people has managed to get lost - sometimes when they are actually near to the park exit. You also have to make sure you manage the prices of your attractions so that guests will want to pay to go on them, and I found it actually surprising how expensive you can make your entrance fee - for example, you may be appearing to rip your customers off but you'll be told that they still think the entrance fee is too cheap (suckers!) In addition to this, you can also raise attractiveness of your park by bringing in various promotions from time to time.
In addition to this, you have to keep up your park rating by making sure the place is clean and free of vandals, so you can hire security guards who supposedly frighten vandals away from causing problems and handymen who maintain the tidiness; the only drawback with the handymen is that - unless you are using a park with no grass at all, you will have to remember to make sure most of them are assigned just to pick up litter and empty bins because otherwise you will discover that your paths are filthy and the handymen as indulging in their apparent fetish for mowing grass; you can also assign them to patrol an area that has particular problems with litter and vomiting people, but often I'll assign three to an area and it still ends up filthy. To keep your guests happy, you can hire entertainers who dress up as pandas by default but can be changed to tigers and elephants (you can check moods by clicking on your guests), and you must also provide an increasing number of mechanics to fix the rides, which leads to another of the annoyances - the mechanics are unbelieveably stupid as they often can't find the way to the ride they are supposed to fix; while you can pick them up and move them, this will cause them to forget their instructions and so these will be given to another mechanic, who is on the other side of the park and inevitably manages to get lost too.
Overall, gameplay is very enjoyable, with just a few niggling annoyances.
Graphics - 9/10
Very good graphics, with massive attention to detail. Even though everything is small even zoomed right in, you can see everything - which benches have been broken, which bins need emptying and where people have been vomiting on the ground. The animation on the little people is nice too, as you can see them coming off the rides with green faces, and if they're too chicken to ride something they will go up to the queuing area, jump in the air and walk off. You will also see them get out umbrellas in the rain if you are selling them and walk around with maps, and they can be extraordinarily patient too - I've seen guests standing in queuing areas and holding up about 10 people while they stop to read their maps. In most real life theme parks I've been to, this would lead to queue jumping and ugly looks galore.
Lastly, if you select a person and look at their mood, often their mood icon can be quite amusing, including happy faces, very angry faces, queasy faces and "in the process of vomiting" faces. It's just a shame that just about everyone seems to be identical - it's an attack of the clones (okay, that's the last time I say that in a review)!
One rather large gripe I do have is that for some reason, the programmers seem to insist on making every screen the same size, which is just slightly bigger than the largest park available, which means that if there is a very small park, a lot of space gets wasted. If you scroll around you will often see some neat details, such as houses surrounding the park and people approaching from a long way off, but since you can't build on this space or interact with it since it is outside of the park, it just seems like a complete waste of time and program space.
Sound - 7/10
It's quite neat in that some of the rides have their own music that only sounds when you actually get close, such as the carousel (the music on it even speeds up considerably when the ride goes out of control), and there are also the excited screams whenever a rollercoaster speeds up, and then sudden "BANG" sound following a crash (which actually made me jump the first few times I heard it). The guests voices can be sometimes annoying, consisting largely of what sounds like "All right? all right?", or whatever it is they are saying. Also, the noise that comes up whenever there is a message can be annoying at times if it sounds many times in succession.
Lastability - 10/10
Wow, you will be playing this for ages. There are many scenarios, and even more in the expansion packs, and there are some parks that you will want to continue with even when you have beaten them long ago.
Definitely buy and try to get some of the expansions once you have finished with all of the standard parks.
Reviewer's Score: 8/10 | Originally Posted: 03/30/06
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