Surely the most anticipated feature of Peter Molyneux’s seminal Theme Park was the prospect of being able to design, build and then ride your own rollercoaster. We didn’t imagine for a second that our imagination was going to be limited by our own processing power. No, this was it. The big one. We could make anything! And of course, we couldn’t. The game was brilliant but you’d have to save the quadruple reverse corkscrew nightmare (and I’m sure that’s been bested now) for Alton Towers.
There’s been nothing quite like Theme Park since and while Thrillville: Off The Rails probably aspired in concept to be the heir apparent, the execution is a different matter… but that’s no bad thing. Containing both theme park sim and rollercoaster builder, the latter allowing you to create some truly eye-popping rides, Thrillville also manages to appeal to the casual gamer with a stack of mini-games that become an increasingly entertaining diversion for some quick-fix multiplayer fun. In fact, the general trend is that these seem to be more addictive than the game itself.
Your main task (aside from desperately trying to avoid another go at that compulsive side-scroller) sees you managing five different theme parks in the Thrillville franchise. Each park is divided into three sections, each with three vacant lots demanding you build and align some crowd-pleasing amusements. Though such a task might initially seem daunting, there’s a great delight in seeing your theme park come together and though the task can become a little stale as you begin with a blank slate for the fourth time, that giddy excitement at building your own theme park never goes away.
Though you’re not micro-managing at quite the same level as Molyneux’s classic, the lack of minutiae can be quite liberating. Dedicated gamers might feel a little short-changed but for everyone else there’s a lot of mileage in this product. One thing’s for sure, you’ll return to those mini-games time and time again, long after you’re done with the main attraction. David Lillywhite
Buy Thrillville – Off The Rails here.