Theme Park World
One of my strongest gaming memories is the weekend I spent playing the original Theme Park, with hardly a pause for food, sleep or other base necessities. After all, I had my little people to worry about, their happiness to consider, their amusement, feeding and toilet relief to look after. I also needed to make money, build my emporium, take over the wortd and brainwash its entire population with over-sugared ice cream. Of course, when those 48 hours were over I couldn't give a toss about any of it.
So, when Theme Park World fell into my sweaty little hands, you can understand why I surrounded my PC with blankets, bags of crisps and a Victorian ceramic potty in preparation for the same experience, only with marvellous 3D graphics and hidden depths of playability that would extend its life beyond that of a mayfly. And I was right. Except for the hidden depths and the 'marvellous' adjective.
The Big Dipper
To begin with, the graphics lack the sharpness you'd expect. Instead you get that grainy look that graced Dungeon Keeper II, but much worse. The maximum resolution is 800x600, so you can only ever see a small portion of your park and even on a hi-end machine the scrolling is slow and jerky. It's not a coincidence that it's also a PlayStation game -its childish console feel is more than apparent.
As for the depth, there's precious little to extend the original's gameplay. Don't get us wrong, you still spend whole nights building up a park, researching new rides, employing entertainers, adjusting the quality and price of your food outlets and generally being glued to the screen. But even this short-lived addiction is marred by some frustrating quirks: you can't buy more than one item at a time (so if you want to place five litter bins you have to keep going back to the buying screen and scroll down a list), the pop-up advisor is incredibly annoying (but at least you can turn him off), loading a saved game is a pain and you're reduced to a maintenance person rather than an omnipotent god within an hour. This last thing happened in Theme Hospital as well (and every other god game, for that matter), but only after you'd spent a couple of weeks playing it and discovering a million things.
Taken For A Ride
The title is wide of the mark, too. The original had a world map you could work your way round when you had enough money. Here you start off with two themes (Halloween and Lost Kingdom) and have to unlock the other two (Fantasy and Space) by winning golden tickets. The fact that you never know what target to achieve before getting one means you just keep on playing until you do. Later in the game it seems it's never going to end, despite everything going well and nothing new happening.
The biggest-selling point is that you can experience the rides you build for yourself, but this is another disappointment. Despite being afraid of heights - the kind of person who freezes at the mere sight of a kids' ferris wheel -1 barely stifled a yawn as I went first-person into a rollercoaster. It doesn't help that even the rides with the highest 'excitement' levels are tamer than a sedated penguin and about as graceful.
Theme Park World is extremely compulsive, but only in the way that crap TV is. You won't stop playing it for a few days, then you'll feel empty, disillusioned and possibly suicidal. Just like a real theme park.
Processor: PC compatible, P-100
OS: Windows 9x, Windows 2000 Windows XP, Vista, Win 7, Win 8, Win 10.
Game Features:Single game mode
Theme Park World Screenshots
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