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Theme Park has always had a cult following. There’s always something about creating your own theme park which never leaves you. This was also one of the first games which forced you to really think about what you were doing. This was my introduction to sim games and I got into by accident. During the mid-90’s, people discovered that you could get your Playstation “chipped” so you could play copied games. That you could now get the latest releases for £5 instead of paying the retail price of £40. Hell yeah! My Dad managed to get our Playstation chipped and he was given Theme Park to test it out. It worked.
In a nutshell, Theme Park saw you create and control your own theme park. You start off with a scrap of land, some money and hope that you could turn it into the greatest theme park of them all. There were a ton of rides to use as well as stalls and food outlets. Whiles I had a blast playing it, I wasn’t paying any attention to the financial side of things and as a result, I was always going bust therefore getting that dreaded “game over”. What surprised me more about the game over cut scene was that it saw your character commit suicide! That was a bit extreme I thought. The one thing I always noticed was that the customers were always miserable. They were never happy about anything and always had something to moan about. Being involved in customer service for most of my life I guess they made it pretty accurate, huh? The only way you could make them happy was to have a fireworks display but that cost money, a lot of money! I always thought it was silly that you could make the customers happy with a fireworks display yet the rollercoaster failed to bring a smile to their faces. The actual building of the theme park was one thing but the management aspect was the main side of the game. You had to hire and train your staff. You also have to deal with employee strikes over wages at the most inappropriate times. The Merry go Round could explode at any minute but your Handyman will flat out refuse to do anything unless you give him a 30% pay rise that you can’t really afford. I suppose it’s better than having dead bodies lying around. I wish there was a cheat code where you could unlock robots that don’t have any emotion just to replace these bell ends.
The other thing which I found annoying was to having to reorder stock for your restaurants. This happened time and time again. No matter what type of restaurant you had, your stock always seemed to be pulled out of the same pile and your advisor always warns you about this just moments before you actually DO run out of stock. You should have the option to hire people to overlook your stock levels and take some pressure off your shoulders. This is where I felt Bullfrog slipped up by putting business first which sucked the fun out of everything.
I’ve also played “Theme Park World” on the PC. It was the first in the series to be played in 3D and if memory serves me right, the first in the series to have pre-set parks too. I wasn’t really a fan of TPW. The 3D graphics weren’t needed in my opinion. Less is more I’d say. It also had a unique element where you could upload your park online for other players to “visit”. If they ever do another Theme Park game for either the PC or home console, they should introduce a multiplayer mode where you were competing with your opponent’s park and to try and win the theme park wars. Whenever me and my mates were playing, we would always give our park stupid names like “Your Ass” or “My Shit” because you’d get customers saying things like “I like Your Ass”. We were 12 at the time. We thought it was hysterical.
On paper, it was a great idea but it just wasn’t executed properly. I still had a laugh making my own theme park. I always felt Rollercoaster Tycoon got the balance right between business and fun.