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Theme Park - The Atari Times

Theme Park

Leader of the Park
by Gregory D. George

February 19, 2001
How many of you have visited an amusement park only to say, "I could do it better?" Well, in Theme Park, you get the chance to prove it.

Theme Park is a "god-simulator" from the masters at Bullfrog, specifically, Peter Molyneux. Previous Bullfrog games like Populous I & II, Dungeon Keeper I & II, Theme Hospital, SimTheme Park, and Black & White have consumed many of my waking (and when-I-should-be-sleeping) hours. Needless to say, I'm a huge fan of Peter Molyneux.

The graphics in Theme Park are identical to the PC version of the game. Which is to say, serviceable. The rides are all rendered in a 3D-ish manner, but the number of ride animation frames is lacking. Originally, I was disappointed there was no "ride the roller-coaster" animation as in the PC version, but it was obviously too much to put on a cartridge.

The music, while annoying, is cute and even fades in and out as you scroll away from the rides. Sound effects are nothing spectacular, but I do enjoy hearing the retching of the visitors after being thrown around on a particularly rough ride.

Controls are easy enough to manage and the game makes good use of the Jaguar's keypad. It takes a while to get used to the many menus, but patience and perseverance are a requirement for these type of games anyway.

The main draw of this game is developing your roller coasters. Setting them up is quite easy, and fun to watch the little people get thrown off. Besides the coasters, there are other track type rides ranging from the slow plodding monorail, the fast car ride, and the wet 'n' wild water ride. Unfortunately, after you have all the rides, there really isn't much else to attract a player to this game.

The biggest problem with this game is the lack of a save game feature. Sure, you can save your status (cash and where you have already built your parks) but you cannot save a park you have created. Even the greatest, most beautiful park in the world will be lost when you turn off the Jaguar. Another thing that has bugged me is that the game bogs down considerably when you have a large park. Maybe I shouldn't play for so long?

There are so many little details to take care of, it can be overwhelming. Don't forget to buy bathrooms, janitors, plants, guards, mechanics, and the rest of the little things. You can buy shares in other people's parks, manage the inventory of toys and fast food, negotiate raises, and decide your own research funding.

What makes this game so engrossing is watching your little people enthusiastically run around the park spending money. You know you've done a good job when your income continues to rise. (TIP: Place concessions and shops right at the exits to the rides.)

Now, I love Theme Park and have played it to death, but that is certainly not reflected in the score I gave it. This is not a game for everybody, as it requires a great deal of micromanagement. If you're willing to spend hours watching little people wander your park, buy it and enjoy it. Otherwise, go back to Cybermorph.

"Are we REALLY going to Fruitland?"
Visitors love shows. And don't forget to buy a steak restaurant and a bar. Nothing like a bunch of drunk dudes on a coaster.
Note the mechanic busily eating his lunch. One mechanic per two rides is a good ratio.
The game will only save where you have built parks and the amount of money you have.
Theme Park
System: Jaguar
Publisher: Atari
Genre: Simulation
Graphics Score: 65%
Sound & Music Score: 75%
Gameplay Score: 75%
Control Score: 80%

Final Score: 65%

Reader Comments for Theme Park

...don't judge a game by its cover... by Guitarman on 2007-03-08 12:21:57
I recently purchased this game for a reasonable price and I'll admit I was intimidated at first. The instruction booklet was the thickest I've ever seen of any Jag title and the beginning tutorial had me second guessing why I had bought the game.
After an hour or so I really started to get into the game. Once I learned the basic setup of the game layout it became quite satisfying creating my own entertainment park. The controls seem to be appropriate and the audio is good (except the VERY annoying music, play it for 2 or 3 hours and you'll know what I'm talking about).
There are only two major downfalls in my opinion with this game. The first one is the saving feature...very irritating...if you've played this you know. The other downfall is that the faster the gamespeed is set, the slower the game will run.
The idea to put a sim game like Theme Park on the Jag was a very good idea and if you can live with the horrible saving feature then this game will give you hours and hours of fun.
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