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Theme Park World was released in 1999 as a sequel to the popular game Theme Park from five years earlier. It offered a range of improvements over the original and once again challenged the player to construct a theme park worthy of a huge audience of demanding kids and adults. Through an intuitive interface players had to build a variety of rides, attractions and amenities for their visitors and ensure that they hired enough staff to cater for their needs - and they were a needy bunch! This is fun casual gaming which is surprisingly addictive and suitable for the whole family.
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This is a construction and management simulation game which makes it sound a lot less fun than it actually is. Let me put it another way, the aim is to build a terrific theme park on an empty lot and make it as profitable as possible. The player can choose from a wide variety of rides, attractions and amenities for their visitors and these are unlocked through a research system which involves hiring scientists to develop new ideas.
As you play through the game different themed worlds become available to play. By completing challenges you can earn golden tickets and unlock further themes. Things start off gently with the Lost Kingdom, a jungle theme park with a dinosaur theme. You can then progress on to my favourite, Halloween World which is a haven for all things spooky including ghost trains and haunted houses. Next up is Wonderland which features a fantasy theme and finally there’s Space Zone which is a futuristic park packed with spaceships and aliens.
The best thing about the game is the wide choice of rides you can construct. The simple rides like bouncy castles can be placed out and connected up to the path and they’ll be in business. For larger rides like Roller Coasters you can build the individual segments of track and make them as large as your finances will allow, even adding in loops and corkscrews if you desire.
The visitors are not an easy bunch to please and as with all of these types of games you need a legion of staff to keep the place clean, entertain the people and fix the rides. The AI path-finding is typically annoying and provides the most obvious frustration in the game-play. For the most part this is a gentle and fun game with a smooth learning curve and it should appeal to all gamers regardless of age or gender.
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Theme Park World offers a vast improvement in visuals over the original game. The themed rides are modelled in detail and what’s more you can actually go into visitor view and ride on them yourself. You’ll spend most of your time with a standard isometric view down on the 3D action and you can see the thoughts and desires of your patrons in bubbles above their heads. The characters are nicely modelled and the animation of rides and people is nicely done.
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The sound has also been improved and there are musical themes to fit each individual type of park. The various rides also have their own sound effects and as you scroll around your creation you’ll hear the screams and yelps of delighted visitors as they speed round the roller coaster or sedately spin on the teacups. Sadly you will also hear the retching sound as your visitors throw up after going on a ride and sometimes the chorus of puking can get a bit grating.
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The system requirements are nice and basic and this game runs well on most machines. You will need a minimum of a 200MHz processor, 32MB RAM, a DirectX 6.1 compatible graphics and sound card and around 300MB of hard drive space.
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Theme Park World is a good title and if you enjoyed the original Theme Park then I’m sure you’ll get some fun out of this. It becomes somewhat boring once you have developed all of the content and many of the rides in different themes are the same with a slight graphical makeover. The fact you can update rides is a nice bonus and the challenge of earning golden tickets to unlock more content gives the game more of a focus but the game-play is still quite similar to the first game. Having said that this is an enjoyable title and it is well designed and presented which makes it a good fun option for the whole family.