Review by Kwing
"An Excellent Game, but VERY Easy and Not Very Involved"
> > > Gameplay
> Basically you run around your theme park and fulfill missions, which instead of being segmented, are actually more like objectives or requirements to be met. These require building certain things (such as a coaster that's ___ feet long), getting high scores in minigames, talking to guests or satisfying them, maintaining a decent level of customer satisfaction, etc. Meeting the requirements nets you money and can help in some other ways, too. The frustrating thing about these is that a lot of the time you have to build an attraction in a certain AREA of your park, and you may build what you have to only to find out it was in the wrong area, wasting a good several thousand dollars out of your pocket. However, the only thing that can actually get you a game over is if people simply stop coming to your park or if you go bankrupt, but the game is so obnoxiously easy that at no point did I find myself even coming close to having a game over. This makes a fun game extremely boring.
> The main control you have over your park is in managing attractions, and this is usually for the purpose of fulfilling a mission or to satisfy a problem your park has (people are getting too hungry/thirsty/bored). You can also talk and flirt with randomized park characters or challenge them to games. The biggest problem with flirting is that the things you can say to someone are multiple choice. Tragically, I felt that this made it exceedingly hard to take things to the next level with a girl I met in the game. I was really committed to her and I wanted it to work, but in the end I had to let her go. On a more serious note, yes, the very limited number of things you can say to your guests makes the game feel somewhat uninvolved. However, the fact that the characters have randomized clothes, appearances, and names is extremely cool, especially when you have a family running around with the same last name. It's a small thing really, but I appreciate it a lot.
> There are also other things you have to keep an eye on, such as park cleanliness, which can be rectified by hiring a groundskeeper and training him, but the unfortunate thing about it is that the training sequence is a minigame that's stupidly easy, and once you train a staff fully you can forget about them completely and they'll run the park for you. There are five parks in the game, but I think I have less than ten staff members across all of them. Another example is that you can change how much a ride costs, but I didn't even find this out until after I'd beaten the game. Such features which would generally deepen the gameplay end up becoming so obsolete so soon that they really do nothing to enhance the game. In addition, the spaces you're given to build attractions is extremely limited, and building fun coasters is hard when there aren't very many tricks you can have it do or much space to make it go crazy. Most of the attractions you build will be an act of you jumping through the hoops instead of making something that's genuinely cool to watch as you go on it. The go kart racing is only slightly more fun to create tracks for. I will admit, though, that making a fun mini golf course is really, really fun. The most frustrating thing about all of this, though, is that even if you do have the space to build more attractions, you have to level up so that you have the 'power' to build more things without tearing old things down. Since nothing is actually threatening to close your park or give you a game over, this doesn't instill any fear or depth; rather it just makes you wait until your park naturally gains more popularity or until you beat enough missions across all five parks.
> From what I've said so far, you might think this game could deserve as little of a score as six, but here's where the gameplay really takes off: Minigames. With every coaster you can ride it in virtual reality and hit targets placed along the tracks. Every go kart race can be raced. Every mini golf course can be played. And there are also arcade games you can put up that include boxing games, sumo wrestling, beat-em-up games, first-person shooters, shooting galleries, platformers, puzzles, biking games, pool, and much more! These games can end up being quite difficult and fun, but the bad part of having a dozen awesome minigames is that none of them are very involved, and the main game isn't very involved, either. Still, this game has a little bit of everything, and that's not something to be taken lightly.
> > > Story
> Basically you're trying to create the world's best theme park. You start off with one park and unlock more as you complete objectives, but each park begins with a major problem. Some are infested with robots, some have devices that are somehow turning people into zombies, some have rides that are constantly breaking down, etc. As it just so happens, someone is trying to sabotage Thrillville and you have to find out who. The biggest problem with this is that the story is a wild goose chase from accusing one person to them telling you it's another person to them telling you it's another person... And none of them have any character development. It could be anyone and you wouldn't care, since none of the characters make any impression at all. And on top of that, to make someone 'talk', you have to beat them in minigames, which really makes no sense. That aside, the dialogue is witty and very funny, but this game was not created for its storyline.
> > > Graphics/Sound
> This game's graphics are pretty blocky and light effects are entirely out of the question. There are also only six different face shapes, one for each gender and each height. However, the customization and different colors the rides and people can have are very cool. The different parks also look very nice and provide a change of scenery, but the sad thing is that the layouts for all of them are the same, so it feels like you're running through the same park over and over.
> The music is pretty good. Almost all of it is licensed, I think, so it sounds like you're listening to a radio. There are also little radio-esque things in between the songs, so it completes the effect. The sound effects are so good you don't notice them, which is how it should be. My only complaint here is that one of the songs is sung by Miley Cyrus.
> > > Play Time/Replayability
You can beat this game in a week or less if you're dedicated, but it would easily take three times as long to get a golden medal on all of the missions in all of the parks. The main focus is still the minigames, though. Mastering the minigames and tearing the scoreboards into pieces will be fun, and you can also play the minigames head to head with other people in Ad Hoc.
> > > Final Recommendation
I have very mixed feelings about this game. It's really fun but loses its thrill very quickly, so to speak. It's got a lot in it, but something about the fact that this game is almost entirely non-linear and impossible to lose really takes away from it. Should you buy this? It's a tough call. If all of your PSP games span less than five genres, then this game is a must-have, as the minigames in it are extremely diverse. However, if you already have a decent collection, then you really have no need for this game, as the minigames aren't very involved.
Reviewer's Score: 7/10 | Originally Posted: 10/20/11
Game Release: Thrillville: Off the Rails (US, 10/09/07)
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