Thrillville: Off the Rails is a game based around building and managing your own theme-park. ‘Simulation games’ like this are often pretty serious affairs, with more and more ‘realistic’, or rather credible, game play, gritty, urban graphics and quite a steep learning curve, getting difficult very quickly. Thankfully, Thrillville is not like that at all. The game’s designers have been smart, ensuring that a lot of the really boring or repetitive tasks, such as cleaning the sick up after your visitors when the rollercoasters get the better of them – yes, really! – are taken care of automatically, without much input from you. That means that, unlike in many other simulation games, you’re basically free to wander around having fun and enjoying the fruits of your labour for most of the time, talking to the park’s guests and finding out what they think of your work. It also means that this is a game far more suited to – and likely to be enjoyed by – a younger audience.
Set free from the more tedious tasks, then, the biggest challenge in the game is to build the best rollercoasters – not necessarily the highest, or fastest, or curliest, because too much of all that results in large quantities of the vomit mentioned earlier and a lot of unhappy paying customers, but rather finding that perfect balance between excitement and nausea! In keeping with the accessibility of the entire game, you don?t have to start from scratch to build the rollercoasters and can, if you like, simply place ‘pre-built’ ones where you choose. Once you’ve done that, and perhaps chucked a few soft drinks stands, pizza joints and toilet facilities around the place, you can walk around the theme park and find out if everyone’s enjoying the rides or need something different.
Best of all, though, you can take go on the rides yourself, directing your character towards the entrance, satisfyingly jumping the queues in the process, and trying them all out. This kicks off one of the game’s many (30) mini-games that are all based on the old-style videogames of yesteryear – our favourite being the Excitebike clone – and these are a whole lot of fun in themselves. Success at these unlocks cool rewards which you can keep or, more productively, give to certain visitors to the part to achieve some of the ‘mission’ goals in the game.
The game is presented in a fun, cartoony graphical style with a cute storyline that fits very well with the overall theme. While your choice of character is really only academic, there’s plenty of variety in the actual customers you can stop and speak to, with often very engaging dialogue that can help you run a better theme park or tackle mission objectives. With the management element of the game so minimised, it’s really the rollercoasters and the mini-games that keep the player most occupied and that’s just how it should be.
Available for PC, Xbox 360, PlayStation 2, PSP and Nintendo DS, Thrillville: Off the Rails is great family fun and there’s a version for everyone.
Additional price info
For the Xbox 360 and Wii platforms, the price is $89.95, while for PlayStation 2, Nintendo DS, PC and PlayStation PortableÂ the price is $49.95.
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