Theme Park (video game)
|Genre(s)||Construction and management sim|
Theme Park is a construction and management simulation game developed by Bullfrog Productions and published by Electronic Arts in 1994. The player designs and operates an amusement park, with the goal of creating theme parks worldwide.
Ports for various games consoles were released, most in 1995. Theme Park received generally positive reviews. Reviewers praised the gameplay and humour, but criticised console ports for reasons such as lack of save or mouse support. The game received a Japanese localisation (in addition to normal Japanese releases), Shin Theme Park, released in 1997 for the Sega Saturn and Sony PlayStation, and remakes for the Nintendo DS and iOS, released in 2007 and 2011 respectively. Theme Hospital is Bullfrog's thematic successor to the game, while Chris Sawyer's RollerCoaster Tycoon series has evolved the concept to offer a far more realistic selection of rides. Two sequels followed: Theme Park World (sold as Sim Theme Park in the United States and some other places) and Theme Park Inc (also known as SimCoaster).
Starting with a free plot of land in the United Kingdom and few hundred thousand pounds, the player must build a profitable amusement park. Money is spent on building rides, shops, and staff, and earned through sale of entry tickets, merchandise, and refreshments. Shops available include foodstuff such as ice creams and chips, soft drinks, and games such as coconut shies and arcades. Their attributes can be customised, which may affect customers' behaviour; for example, affecting the flavour of foods (e.g. by changing the amount of sugar an ice cream contains), may affect customers' enticements to return. Facilities such as toilets, and items that enhance the park's scenery can be purchased. Over thirty attractions, ranging in complexity from the bouncy castle, to aeroplane flying, and to more complicated and expensive rides like the roller coaster and Ferris wheel, are available. Also available as rides are shows (called 'acts') with themes such as clowns and mediaeval. Certain rides, such as roller coasters, require more than just placement; a track must be laid out. The ride complement varies between platforms; for example, the PlayStation version is missing the mediaeval and dolphin shows. Depending on the platform, it is possible to tour the park or the rides.
Visitors arrive and leave via a bus. The entry price can be set, and loans can be taken out. The player starts with a limited number of shops, rides, and facilities available. Research must be carried out to purchase others. In addition to more shops and rides, research can make rides more durable, staff more efficient, and buses larger. What gets researched, and how much funding goes into it is determined by the player.
There is a focus in the staff side of the park as well. People employed in the park include entertainers, security guards, mechanics, and handymen. Lack of staff can cause problems, including messy footpaths, rides breaking down (and with sufficient neglect, exploding), crime, and unhappy visitors. If visitors become unhappy, thugs may come to vandalise the park by committing offences such as beating up entertainers. Occasionally, wages and the price of goods must be negotiated; failure to negotiate results in staff strikes and loss of shipment. Theme Park offers three levels of simulation: the higher difficulties requiring more management of aspects such as logistics. For example, at full level, the player must manage research, negotiations, stocks, and shares. On sandbox, the player doesn't have to worry about those aspects. Game time is implemented like a calendar; at the end of each year, the player is judged on that year's performance against rivals on their parks. Cash awards may be earned for doing well, and trophies may be awarded for achievements such as having the longest roller coaster.
The goal is to increase the park's value and available cash so that it can be sold and a new lot purchased from another part of the world to start a new theme park. Once enough money has been made, the player can move on to newer plots, located worldwide and have different factors affecting gameplay, including the economy, weather, terrain and land value. The Mega Drive and Super NES versions feature different settings (e.g. desert and glacier) depending on the park's location.
In an interview, Peter Molyneux explained that the primary reason he created Theme Park is because he wanted players to create their dream Theme Park. Another reason is he wanted players to understand the kind of work running one entails. The three difficulty settings enable players to choose the desired depth: simply having fun creating a Theme Park, or making all the business decisions too. Molyneux stated that the most difficult part to program was the visitors' behaviour. Multiplayer support was planned, but dropped two weeks prior to release because of a deadline. Theme Park was released on gog.com on 9 December 2013.
Shin Theme Park
A Japanese remake of Theme Park, titled Shin Theme Park (新テーマパーク Shin Tēma Pāku?, lit. New Theme Park) was released on 11 April 1997 by Electronic Arts Victor for the Sony PlayStation and Sega Saturn. This version is different to other releases in Japan; the game's style and visuals are changed.
The game was remade for the Nintendo DS by EA Japan. It was released in Japan on 15 March 2007 with releases in the US and Europe on 20 March 2007 and 23 March 2007. New features of the game are the user interface, which was designed to fit the stylus functionality of the DS platform, and bonus rides/shops exclusive to certain properties, such as a Tea Room themed on an AEC Routemaster bus for England, Japanese dojo-style bouncy castle for Japan, a Coliseum-themed Pizza Parlour for Italy, a La Sagrada Familia-themed Paella restaurant for Spain etc. The remake is based on the DOS version. The game differs from the original in that the game provides four different advisers.
Theme Park was remade for iOS in 2011. Items can only be placed on designated places, and the game relies on premium items. Rides can cost up to $60 (£46) in real money, and for this reason the game was not well received.
The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly commented that the game itself is great fun, but that the Jaguar conversion has confusing menus and dithered text which is excessively difficult to read. GamePro echoed these criticisms and further stated that the Jaguar version suffers from frustrating slowdown. They summarised that "Ocean didn't work hard enough to make Theme Park look and sound good on the Jaguar". A reviewer for Next Generation took the reverse position, saying that the Jaguar conversion "is seamless" and the game itself is mediocre. They elaborated that "Slow gameplay and confusing layouts keep it from ever achieving the addictiveness of the other 'god' games, and most players will find themselves bored before they've even run through all of the options". German magazine Atari Inside complimented the addictiveness, but criticised the lack of save opportunities, and ST Computer remarked the game's complexity and colourful graphics assured it of being long and attractive. Mega Fun's main criticism of the Jaguar version is its inability to save in-game.
Sega Saturn Magazine praised the Saturn version for retaining the original intro, music, speech samples, and features of the PC version (all of which had been left out of most previous console versions). The Japanese magazine of the same name praised the game, but criticised the lack of mouse support. Electronic Gaming Monthly similarly praised the Saturn version for being a comprehensive port of the PC original, and applauded the addictive simulation gaming of Theme Park, calling it "SimCity with a playful spirit". Mean Machines Sega compared it to the Mega Drive version, citing the save function and variety of entertainers as major improvements over that version.
Reviewing the PlayStation version, Maximum said that the game "is probably one of the best sim games around. It manages to strike a balance between in-depth game play and personality, which you don't get with the more brow-furrowing games of this genre". However, they were disappointed that the only improvement in the PlayStation version is a gimmicky view option.
CU Amiga praised the addictiveness, and called the game "colourful". Mean Machines Sega described the game as "the most complex Megadrive game ever created", and praised playability and longevity, but criticised the behaviour of the handymen. Reviewing the PC and Macintosh versions, Jeuxvideo.com praised the visuals and "British" humour. French magazine Joystick complimented the visitors' and ride animations. Reviewing the Super NES version, German magazine Mega Fun compared it to the Mega Drive version, and said it had better controls and music, creating atmosphere.
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- テーマパーク究極本 (BESTゲーム攻略SERIES) [Theme Park Ultimate Book (Best Game Strategy Guide Series)] (in Japanese). Tokyo: Mikio Kurihara. 15 February 1996. ISBN 978-4-584-160-343.
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