Dominating the exciting world of Theme Park ownership is your goal in this strategy game from Bullfrog. The first task is to set up your rides within the available land, structuring convenient paths and queues and ideally leaving some space for bigger rides once they become available, and include some lakes and trees to increase the park's allure. Rides range from Teacups and Haunted Houses to the biggest most elaborate roller-coaster you can design, and water rides that loop around other rides.
Shops must also be included, so that the visitors can buy food, drinks and souvenirs - the cunning player will combine salt, sugar and caffeine settings to maximize consumer interest. Staff must be hired to keep everything running smoothly, and they will only work for what they consider a fair rate of pay.
You are competing against other Theme Parks, so don't let them get an advantage over you - monitor your success in attracting customers and financial viability closely using the supplied statistics pages. More important, ensure that research is adequately funded to produce new rides.
It can be played in three modes - Sandbox level lets you concentrate on the park design elements, while Sim and Full add more strategic features.
I was 13 years old when I started reading PC Gamer, a brand new British PC-games magazine. As much as I loved the magazine (even with my limited knowledge of English at the time), I enjoyed the cover disks even more. Oh yes, on the cover of each issue, two 3.5" disks attached with cellotape. And these disks didn't just contain any old crappy games! Oh no, every issue had a demo of a certified classic! Beneath A Steel Sky, Micro Machines, UFO: Enemy Unknown, Dragonsphere, and many, many more! Most of these games are now all-time favorites, and deservedly so!
But let's get to the point. One such demo, as you may have guessed already, was Theme Park. That same issue of PC Gamer had the review, with plenty of screenshots and a 95% score. If that didn't convince me, the demo certainly did.
What the screenshots didn't (and couldn't) show, was the tremendous atmosphere of Theme Park. Cheering kids, screaming riders on a rollercoaster, the merry sound of other rides, and so much more! No other theme park game has gotten anywhere near this brilliant mood, and it's small things like this that set Theme Park apart from the crowd, even fifteen years later!
The game itself is amazing, and you have an enormous park to do with as you please! There are rides, shops, decorations, and entertainers (each with tons of choices available), which you can research and then add to your park. You even get rewards according to how well-designed it is.
While doing all this, you must be clever as well. Keep ticket prices fair, then raise drink prices and add more salt in the fry shops (after all, people get thirsty from all that salt) and you'll make a killing! Set the right speed for rides (to avoid breakdowns), or you'll need a repairman! Oh, and if people throw wrappers and other trash on the pathways, you should get staff to clean up the mess. Heck, you can even let them mow the lawn to get rid of the ghastly weeds! Of course, planting trees and flowers is also a good move.
Everything affects everything else. A dirty park will make guests unhappy, but so will high prices. Boring rides, confusing pathways (you can place signs to avoid this), and bad weather - (which is unavoidable) will affect their moods too, although you can have entertainers pass out umbrellas when it starts to rain and storm.
The game really has so much to offer. There are staff negotiations, restocking of food for the shops, research for additional and better rides (and other items), plus awards at the end of the year to show how well you've done. And if you get tired of one park, why not buy another?
Theme Park is a perfect example of why the early '90s were a goldmine of gaming brilliance. This game is PACKED with features, yet manages to be incredibly charming with a tremendous eye for detail. Roller Coaster Tycoon may beat it in terms of strategic depth, but the charm of Theme Park has yet to be surpassed. This was Bullfrog Productions at its best...
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