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When I saw that Theme Park was available to play on the DS, I simply had to buy it. This was because the game transports me back to my childhood – I whiled away many an hour in front of my PC playing this game. I had two questions that needed answering: 1) how would the game transfer on to the DS, with it’s smaller screen size and more restricted controls and 2)how would it live up to my fond memories, was it really that good?
THE IDEA BEHIND THE GAME
The idea of the game is that you buy a plot of land and you need to build up a theme park on it. It’s a tycoon management type game. You start with very little money and have to buy basic rides and shops for your land. As you make money from admission fees and the shops and food outlets, you can buy better shops, restaurants, rides and amenities. You can also invest money into development so that people come up with ideas for new rides and restaurants for you.
Whilst your park is in operation, you have to ensure that people keep coming by making sure the admission prices are correct, that stock levels in shops and restaurants are maintained, resolve staff disputes and contend with ‘bullies’ in the park – phew!
If successful and you make a lot of money, you are then able to buy a better plot of land in another country and start the process again – usually contending with a different terrain.
PLAYING THE GAME
Playing the game on the DS involves using the stylus to select from the many menus. The controls are therefore really simple and it’s relatively easy to pick up. However, I find the number of menus to select from before you get anywhere quite tedious. I’m not sure if this is just the DS version, or the game itself as my memory is a little hazy! It does feel like you have to go around the houses a bit to get anywhere though.
I also find the small screen size of the DS quite a hindrance. It means that the rides and shops are not very clear and, when there are bullies in the park to identify, they are really hard to spot. It is also really hard to build rides such as the rollercoaster and water shoot as you need to design the course. I found that trying to navigate round the screen doing this was really hard and often broke the track, very frustrating.
It was good to see, however, that many of the things that I loved the game for remained. I love the business side of the game – gauging ticket prices, restaurant costs and shop charges. I also like the aspect of managing finances so that you can invest in new ideas. Building the park itself is also fun, but challenging on the small screen.
I love the idea of the game and all the thought that has so obviously gone in to it. However, I am not sure that you get the full experience on the DS due to the screen size. That aside, the game has really good feature and it is easily played for hours on end (highly addictive!). You also get to use your creative side by designing your own park and I also enjoy the fact that no two games will be the same.
The game is good if you like tycoon style games and enjoy a challenge. I have played several of these types of games and this one remains a firm favourite of mine. It is currently priced at around £25 online, which I think is a little steep. If you can pick it up a little cheaper than this however, it's worth a try.