Thrillville: Off The Rails

I Like Bribes! - Theme Park Critic

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As someone who can't play on the swings without feeling nauseous, theme parks have never held much interest for me. Give me some bumper cars, a fist full of cotton candy and a carnie trying to sell me pot and I've about hit my limit for carnival fun. With this in mind, you might imagine my dismay when I ripped open the mysterious package from Microsoft and found the Xbox 360 version of Thrillville: Off the Rails, it was a little hard to see past my choking disappointment that it wasn't Mass Effect instead.

On the plus side, very few games have made me nauseous since F-Zero on the Super Nintendo so a few virtual rides shouldn't be a problem. Over 30 poorly constructed mini-games later, I was starting to wish I'd bought the dime bag from that clown.

Platforms Available: Xbox 360, PC, Wii, PS2, DS, PSP
Played: Xbox 360

If you "˜re expecting Sim Theme Park you're going to walk away from Thrillville disappointed. There is very little park management to scratch your head over aside from building rides and chatting with visitors to the park. There are status bars, missions and goals to track, but this game is for kids so they aren't pushing you to climb intellectual mountains. It's enough to listen to the people tell you what they want, build the appropriate buildings and play the dozens of minigames to fill out the experience.

After creating my suggestive teenage girl avatar and entering my first park, I was informed that there was a dreaded critic in the area and I needed to get on his good side. I maneuvered my tween over to the guy and stabbed the A button, bracing myself for a complex debate full of veiled threats, under the table offers and petty attacks on my character.

YOUNG GIRL: Your review of the park was pretty harsh.

CRITIC: I LIKE BRIBES.

YOUNG GIRL: Here's a free ticket for you.

CRITIC: You're way better than those other guys.

Well played, Mr. Critic. Well played.

The minigames are really where the meat of the game is found. The box claims over 30 games with 14 new ones, suggesting that if I had played the first game I might be pretty disappointed right about now. Instead, I'm pleased with the old school "50 games in One!" compilation quality of the disc. Granted, most of the games are low-rent versions of flash games you could play online for free, but there are a few competent clones of the genres they're trying to emulate. Side-scrolling shoot-em-ups, brawlers, kart races, gun fights and more are available in single player and multiplayer modes. None are perfectly executed, but they do act as a set of training wheels for a younger generation that grew up on 3D games. I like the idea of a 12 year old struggling with the same crappy controls I had to at his age playing R.C. Pro-Am.

When I wasn't whacking moles and fighting in coop brawlers with my tolerant wife, I found myself building roller coasters. Or WHOA COASTERS as they call them thanks to some crazy, completely unsafe coaster add-ons that throw both caution and your patrons to the wind. Building a roller coaster in a 3D space is surprisingly simple and approachable, especially considering the target audience. It doesn't take much finesse to span your whole theme park with a killer ride, complete with loops, slingshots and other WOAH accessories. Even better, if you ever get tired of trying to bring your new ride full circle, you can ask the game to finish it off for you.

You can actually take a ride on your own coaster once you're done, either in first person perspective or from a distant camera view. There aren't a ton of thrills to be had since you're not going to feel the crushing momentum of the real thing, but it sure made me nauseous! Points for bringing that small bit of authenticity to the experience.

Thrillville: Off The Rails is not trying to please hardcore gamers who want to set drink prices and optimize their park's profit margins. What it does well is give kids a lot of different things to see and do depending on their maturity and interest level. You do need to progress in the single player mode building rides and relationships before you can unlock a few of the minigames, but they aren't too hard to achieve.

Even though not many of the minigames hold much interest for seasoned veterans, it's easy to imagine young teens having a good time playing with their friends. The younger 3D generation isn't likely to be exposed to a vertical shoot-em-up like 1942 otherwise. Hold that idea close when you're stuck playing Thrillville with your 8 year old nephew all night.

IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/thrill2.thumbnail.jpg) IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/thrill1.thumbnail.jpg) IMAGE(http://www.gamerswithjobs.com/files/images/thrill5.thumbnail.jpg)

- Shawn Andrich

Comments

I downloaded the Xbox Live demo of this, expecting Rollercoaster Tycoon Lite. Not so. If you aren't a tween, give this a ten-foot berth.

That being said, I did have fun getting "maximum friendship points" by starting inane conversations with park-goers and repeatedly hammering the A button. They don't seem to care what you say to them, only that you say it many, many times.

I grabbed the XLive demo as well, and had a similar reaction. If you're looking for a more playable theme park game try, well, Theme Park. It was recently ported to the DS and the platform handles the game wonderfully.

I was really hoping for a Sim Theme Park with a better rollar coaster editor.. Oh well.

The robots are going nuts in one of the parks, so I had to drive them out.. I was told to "Flirt" with them. Creepy fun!

It should be noted that although the game is developed by Frontier Studios, makers of RollerCoaster Tycoon 2/3 and the xbox port of part 1, Chris Sawyer had nothing to do with this title.

For those who don't know who Chris Sawyer is: He created the RollerCoaster Tycoon series and is the reason why 1-2 were absolutely great games. He served as a consultant on 3, which was also really fun.

Certis wrote:

Thrillville: Off The Rails is not trying to please hardcore gamers who want to set drink prices and optimize their park's profit margins.

I still don't understand why people want features like this.

wordsmythe wrote:
Certis wrote:

Thrillville: Off The Rails is not trying to please hardcore gamers who want to set drink prices and optimize their park's profit margins.

I still don't understand why people want features like this.

It is the feeling of power wordsmythe. To have a captive audience and run them around the park on a hot summer day till they are thirsty and parched. To then charge them whatever your heart desires, because they must pay, they MUST pay YOUR prices. I can hear their little voices now, "Daddy, I'm thirsty." "Honey, Little wordsmthe really needs a drink, he looks faint." "Sugarbunny, we ran out of juicepacks an hour ago, I wish he had brought more for the kids." "Oh well, It's only 7.50 a juicepack, I guess its reasonable for all the fun we're having." Little voices, slight hesitition, open wallets, BIG profits.

This is power wordsmythe, TRUE POWER (arcs of power radiate from Irongut's keyboard as he types). Come little families, come enjoy THE PARK. We'll take good care of you, oh yes, we'll take care of you alright. MWAHAHAHAHAHAHAHA

Think there's any chance that Certis got a special media review copy with the critic's dialogue tweaked?

MaxShrek wrote:

The robots are going nuts in one of the parks, so I had to drive them out.. I was told to "Flirt" with them. Creepy fun!

Hmm...

http://www.msnbc.msn.com/id/21271545/

Coincidence? Doubtful.