Welcome back to the Retro Review, where we ride around the rollercoaster of Nostalgia and throw up the very best, or worst, of video game history.
“Following on” (it’s been FIVE years?!) from my Retro Review of Theme Hospital, we’re taking a look at another Peter Molyenux classic (before we went crazy and started creating generic micro-transaction-based God games), Theme Park.
Unlike the lightly odd setting of Theme Hospital, Theme Park gives players the opportunity to fulfil a childhood fantasy, to design your own Theme Park, and more importantly, build your own rollercoaster! There is a catch, however (unless your name is HORZA), you have to successfully build your business in order to be able to build the park of your dreams.
You start off with a small plot of land in the Bedfordshire countryside, a few thousand pounds, and all your hopes and dreams. The first thing you do on this game is build some paths, a bouncy castle, and a toilet. Much like Theme Hospital, you’ll pick a starting strategy and it’ll be with you for life. Hire staff to clean the park, run the shops and repair the rides, and set your prices to keep your guests happy and the money coming in.
All the usual dubious business practices can be used to make cash quick; sell fries for cheap as chips, if you pardon the pun, but absolutely riddled with salt, then charge a fortune for drinks. Strategy for entrance and ride pricing depends on your attractions, a higher entrance fee with few, cheaper rides is a good way to start, but building towards a cheaper entrance fee and a high price for your premium rides in the long term. You’ll occasionally have to negotiate wages with staff, with harms flailing around a negotiation table to try and reach a deal. Try and get the cheapest option you can and only hire staff you absolutely need.
Once you’ve got your basic park built, you will need to start putting money into researching new rides such as rollercoaters and Ferris Wheels. Eventually you’ll have earned enough money and built the park to the point where you can sell it for a large profit, and move on to another part of the world, where the terrain, weather, economy and land value all vary.
There’s over 30 rides in the game, and depending on which version you’re playing, you can walk around your park and “Ride” the rides. Unfortunately, unlike later games in this genre, the “rides” are just FMVs of the ride and don’t correspond to the layout of the ride you built or it’s location, sadly.
Despite being basic in comparison to future titles such as the hugely successful Rollercoaster Tycoon series, or the less-remembered follow-up, Theme Park World, this game was the genesis of the Theme Park management genre, and without it, I doubt any of the games that followed would have been what they are..,
Speaking of Theme Park World, I need to cover that game one of these days, it’s an often overlooked game that I personally really enjoyed, but paled in the shadow of the new king on the block, Rollercoaster Tycoon 3….
But that’s for another time.
Danny’s Retro Rating: