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I am not one for playing games that involve constant mass murder, aliens and some of the so-called monsters the games my boyfriend seems to constantly play. So when I was looking through a list of Xbox 360 games I was more than happy to see a nice timid Rollercoaster creating game, bursting out of the screen at me.. Having loved the Rollercoaster Tycoon games, I had a funny feeling I might like this one.. So off the hunt went from website to website, looking up this game and it wasn’t all that hard to find if you wanted to pay about £17 for it, which given this nice recession as it is I wasn’t going to pay that much for it.. So there was the beauty of eBay, after trailing around and watching and bidding for it, I finally got the game, and waited with trepidation for it to land on my doormat. That and getting the feedback on my eBay account!
What is Thrillville?
Thrillville is a game, that came out on Xbox 360 in October 2007, it is a simulator where as it suggests you can build your own amusement park.. Exactly to your own specifications, with as many rides, go-kart tracks, arcade games, trampolines, wild rides, food stalls, drink stalls, and as little amount of toilets as you want if you really feel like keeping your guests busting for the toilet, and don’t worry they will soon tell you about it.. There are all sorts of games you need to play to keep your guests happy, fed, watered and spending their hard earned cash in your theme park.. Whichever one they are visiting..
The idea behind Thrill Ville - Off The Rails is that similarly to the original game that was created for Xbox and various other platforms, where you have been left a theme park to look after for your Uncle Mortimer, except this time instead of just having the one theme park to look after, you can earn your way to opening new parks within your theme park. However you are not alone, as in any game regardless of the genre there has to be someone out there to ruin it for you, in this case.. Without giving the game away, a company called GloboJoy are out to ruin your theme park, all five different sub-parks. There is a way to defeat them but I will let you work that one out if you do decide to buy this - but beware you will need bribes aplenty to get rid of the blighters!
Who makes Thrillville?
This game was developed by a company called ‘Frontier Developments’ a game developer based in sunny Blighty - Cambridge to be precise, old PC games called Frontier Elite, and many such other games were the first they decided to release, not that they did especially well given the bugs and faults that were apparently in abundance. However do not despair as poor as the first few games were, they started out with a few of my favourite games, Roller Coaster Tycoon 1-3 and expansion packs are just some of the games they now successfully make, and have recently developed the Wallace and Gromit game things seem to be looking up for them. Especially if you have a look at their wikipedia page it seems they have some games coming out soon, one for the Wii, which given their new reputation I bet will be a great game to play.
As the first game was Thrill Ville - Off The Rails was distributed by ‘Lucas Arts,’ the American game developer and producer, owned by none other than George Lucas of Star Wars fame - not that you needed me to tell you that! So if you have played anything, like the Star Wars - Force Unleashed, or the Lego Star Wars than you have been playing ‘Lucas Arts’ games. So just from the kind of background this game has come from you can almost guess or maybe hope that this game is just as high quality as some of the Star Wars ones in mainstream production at the moment.
So as always, I will show you just how easy it is to play this game, the controls are very easy to understand and when you have the game in front of you - it is even easier. Even if you do something a bit wrong, just hit the hand ‘B’ button and it will get you back to where you were.. Put it this way I’ve been playing this game for months I still end up in the wrong screen sometimes.. Hey we are not all perfect!!!
* The Left stick and the D-pad can be used for the same thing in this game - and that is to move your character, or pick an option on the menu, such as missions or games to play. It is also used for your games of course, to move your animals in games such as Bandito Chinchilla, and moving your aim when playing the shoot out games..
* The Right stick - used to adjust the camera, which is very handy when you are riding the rides you have created because you get a good look at the surroundings you are being whisked around in. However when you are just walking around in your parks, trying to look around with just your right stick does get very irritating because it doesn’t move far enough for you to get a good look..
* The ‘A’ button, as with most games the A button confirms selections and while playing the entertainer mini-game you use it to lengthen notes and it is useful in other games as it is usually the most used button on your controller, I have noticed my A button is sinking into the controller I use it so much!!
* The ‘B’ button - as I said before it will get you out of most tight squeezes in a menu, it will take you back to where you were before with relative ease. As well as making your character run that little bit quicker, but I find watching my character sprint make me feel a bit dizzy.. Not sure why!
* The ‘X’ button, does the wonderful thing of opening the park menu, so you can pick out missions and things you have to build to level up and complete your sub-park..
* Both bumpers and triggers do some nifty things when building a coaster, from tilting the track to adding some spectacular ‘Whoa’ pieces which I will explain later on.. For the shooting games, and the driving the main button to use is the right trigger, causing acceleration and shooting..
So overall the controls are not difficult to use providing you get to grips with which button selects items and which deletes them because you could have some fun, placing a drinks stall right next to a toilet, which in some places is not a great idea - imagine the smell! You could also end up talking to the wrong person and really annoying them by selecting the wrong option too.. However one button I will say is essential is the B button, not only can you get out of most things by pressing it, but it means you can also run faster around your parks, because your character just walking can get highly irritating because unless you are looking for something in particular it is very slow and laborious. Though I will say playing the groundskeeper game with bumpers and the right stick to direct can get a little tricky if you aren’t very hand/eye coordinated, which it appears I’m not.. Ahh well!
There are four options you can choose from in regards of playing this game from the main menu.. They are as follows:
I will give you a little more detail about the main feature of the game, that being the ‘New Game,’ the option that gives you money, achievements, the game option that unlocks all the other parks, and needless to say the critics and characters that are out there to ruin your game and make you mad - even though they are not real. Through this game play you can learn everything you need to learn about the game in probably the first five minutes with some strategically placed tutor sections..
Starting The Game
Well when you start a new game, running your own amusement park as always with these simulator games you must pick yourself a character to represent you.. As always you can have a giggle as you flick through the smattering of characters and the fact they all have a slightly perturbed look on their faces, as if they are desperate for the toilet.. Another thing I noticed about these characters is that there is very little variation on them, for example in the male characters there are two the same one just has different skin colour, which is a bit silly given the whole character is based around you and therefore you are given different options to pick skin colour, hair colour, glasses, and the clothes colours if you feel the need to change them.. Obviously you can change the name of the character to your own or something wacky if you feel the need, however the controls are a little wonky on this game when picking a name because I ended up loosing the last letter off my name, so I was known as ‘Laur’ which was annoying me so much I had to find a way to change it.. Thankfully in the edit name section on the main menu so I became ‘Laura’ again!
So when you have picked your character, your name, and eventually got through to starting your game, you will notice you have one park open as a start, called ‘Thrillville Stunts’ which is a great starting block to begin building anything, from the stalls and toilets, to rides and games, the easiest way to start is to press X, and notice your status bars, to see your missions. The missions themselves are the key basis to making a somewhat successful theme park, when you begin the game, each of the bars are completely empty leaving you to start your development of ‘Thrillville Stunts’ everything from building particular games, to keeping your guests happy by making friends with enough of them - there is also a nice bonus for making friends with a certain amount of your guests if you know what I mean.. There are 5 different sections to your ‘Missions’ they are; Build, Games, Guest, Upkeep and Manage, so as you go trough completing these missions you will see your status bar for each park fill up, until you finish it obviously, then you can focus more on your other parks and let that park and it’s staff keep things running for you.
There are a number of things on your screen when you first load up the game which are a little confusing if you aren’t really taking much notice of what is going on, like I didn’t when I first started playing - I was more interested in trying to get achievements rather than what was actually going on in the actual game.. I’m far to competitive about Xbox gamer points than is probably healthy.. Anyway sorry, got a little sidetracked there for some reason.. When you look at the main screen you have a bar in the top left which shows your progress in levels from 1 - 10, it indicates what level you are at by the number of coloured dots you have at the bottom of this status screen, I currently have 9 and working my way to the 10 quite rapidly.. It doesn’t take too long to get the levels up especially if you realise a quick way to get the points you need to level up..
On the top right of the screen there is a little bar which shows you how much money you have, this bar is only valid for ‘Thrillville Stunts.’ I have noticed when you first place a ride or a game, especially in a somewhat empty park you see the cash flow increase quite dramatically, but when you have a number of coasters and games running the dollars seem to go in, only to go back out again - sounds like most peoples bank accounts! Then again if you think realistically about the financial short comings of running a theme park then really you would see a lot less profit that you actually seem to make in this game..
At the bottom of the screen there is a little circular button that at particular points in the park you can interact with it by pressing A, where it will give you a number of options depending where you are and what you are looking to do. For example if your character walks into a crowd, pressing A will give you a choice of guest to speak to, which is an essential thing to do.. I will explain why a little later on.. If you are in an open section of the park that is not a pathway the ion of bricks will pop up in your little button, giving you the option to build in it, what you can build is restricted, but again I will explain that in a little more detail later on.. If you walk up to a ride, a stall, a game or a coaster, you will see the hand icon pop up, giving you the choice to edit the feature, ride it and other managerial bits and pieces you would expect that comes with running the park.. Now if you spot a member of staff wandering around your park, don’t worry they aren’t usually up to no good, it usually means they are working however if you get close enough you can interact with the ID badge icon and change their wages or take them over to train them to do their jobs, however I will explain that in a bit more detail too later on..
What I Think
However as easy as it may sound to get the mission bars filled, there is always going to be something that you really don’t want to do to get that gold trophy on your mission, my way around that was to take my hard drive and game to my boyfriends house and get him to do it for me. Ok, so that is cheating some would say, I call it initiative and it saves me time and effort when really I can’t do it.. As you start your game, the one thing that annoyed my was how long I had to wait before I could actually start building a coasters, the reason behind the game is to build things, but getting the money before hand is something of a different story, by placing a bunch of stalls that is the only way to get money - unless you take out a loan, which then has to be paid back, and any money you do make isn’t yours.. So waiting is definitely the best option! The different functions of you’re a button as you go around the park are a little confusing because if someone walks past you that is it, you could end up in a conversation with them when you meant to build a bunch of trampolines, or another block of toilets. So make sure before you push A you are in the right area and you aren’t going to accidentally start talking to someone, instead of your desired action!
How To Make A Successful Park (or five)
Well you first of all need to know exactly what is going on else you could just be walking around inviting those ‘GloboJoy’ people into your park to ruin it for you.. Which they will more than likely do for you anyway, but it is still best to keep on top of what is going on.. Anyway as well as keeping up with your missions to make a dent in your attempts to keep your park flowing in the cash department and the guests, there are also a bunch of other things you can be keeping yourself busy with.
In the main park menu there are plenty of things to keep yourself busy with, there is a handy little overview for each park when you are in them, to give you a good look at what is going on with your guest mainly. There are four sections that are of particular importance.. They are Thirst, Hunger, Bladder and Happiness, which basically tells you, if your bars are in the red then you need to either cut back on the thrill rides to knock down the nasty nausea, or if they all have full bladders it is time to build some toilets - Pronto! Thirst and Hunger are obvious to combat and the theory behind it really is that you create more food and drink stalls, the problems decrease and the money rolls in.. However the guests are always complaining regardless of what you do.. So don’t expect to win with some of them..
As with anything money rules all, so making new rides will get your spending up, but that doesn’t come without expenditure of its own, so there is a section in your park menu that allows you to spend extra money on researching new rides, the more money you spend on research the quicker the rides become available and the sooner you can rake in dosh! However this section doesn’t just get you spending on research it sets off campaigns to get people into your parks, place a advertising campaign in a teen magazine and watch the amount of teens in your statistics rise immensely.. Oh the power of advertising! There is also the option to take out a loan here, but as in the real world it still has to be paid back, with interest, so much for the virtual world being more fun eh?
Now where would a park be without it’s staff? Well not very far in this one I’ll tell you that much, in your park menu you are given the option to pick your staff, you have a groundskeeper, mechanic, and entertainer.. Though it is never as simple as that is it.. With these employees, they will keep you training them until they are perfect, and I tell you something as you open the new parks it gets more and more difficult.. To train your Groundskeeper, you have to train him to clean up sick and suck up the trash, in the form of cans and general litter. Not only have to got to aim your director at the sick or trash, but it is blowing around - the rubbish not the sick lol.. So it is very difficult to pick up and obviously it gets more difficult as you venture from park to park. Similarly to the groundskeeper you have to train your entertainer to do their job, that involves playing her and taking part in a little routine, that increases in difficulty as you move along. The first time I played this I honestly got so fed up of missing the beat, as there is a circular block that you need to move the arrow too and push the correct button before you can get anywhere. To train the mechanic it is as simple as fixing a ride, there are a number of circuit boards in each ride that need fixing before you have trained him, but great as you can imagine by the time you get to the final park you have opened things just aren’t going to be all that easy to fix rides..
What I Think
It is quite funny though watching the guests walking around going ‘I’m so thirsty’ because as they walk past you if they are talking to you are not you can hear them complain, when I first started the game I decided to be cruel and not give tem drinks stalls or toilets, and they were whinging in their droves, so when I eventually placed one of each per section of park, they were very grateful and started to stop complaining until they wanted something else, food stalls and balloon stalls for example.. It doesn’t matter what you try they will still complain at you! The best thing about setting the advertising campaigns running I found was that basically you have to do nothing but spend a bit of money and you see guests piling in just from an 8 week advertising campaign but, beware the more teenagers pile in the place, the more demanding they get, so a few stalls will not suffice, they place must be packed full of them to make these people happy. They also want scarier rides, which means bye-bye money, but if you play this I will let you work out how bad it is for yourself! The one thing I have to say I hate doing is training the people to work in your theme park, there is nothing more annoying than trying to make your groundskeeper suck up litter that is flying around, now it is more irritating than I can put a name too all I know is if I could get away with it, I wouldn’t do it.. It’s another thing I took to my boyfriend to do, as I really have no patience for these things..
Building Rides, Coasters and Stalls
So you are never going to get very far in building the reputation of your park if you don’t build any coasters or rides, because can you imagine going to Alton Towers and there being no rides there? Well you just wouldn’t go would you.. This is exactly the same in the virtual world of course, where we all own a big amusement park and are earning over £100,000 profit in year over a number of parks.. Pity its not real really, given most of us are a little bit poorer than we used to be.
The stalls to build are so much easier than the roller coasters, they are simply selected from the stall menu. Which when you come into an open area the A button is a prompt to build on the area, there you can choose the stall menu, there you choose the stall you wish to add to the area - there are a number of stalls to pick from; such as, drinks stalls - including coffee, and mineral water.. Food stalls; including pizzas and donuts.. There are other stalls including balloon stalls and hat stalls.. The toilets are in the stall section also, but they are a necessary item for your guests so you shouldn’t hesitate to place those in..
The games are just as easily placed, picking them from the game menu, and placing them in the right spaces.. The right spaces will become apparent with the blue area around it that means you can place it there, but as with the stalls you can use the triggers to move it around to a desired place. That makes the most of your space, so you can get as many games and stalls into one section so that the guests are happy and the cash balance in your screen keeps growing so the coasters you build are the biggest, best and achievement worthy coasters.
Now the coasters are somewhat of a different story, because as you go along there are so many different ones to choose from, as from park to park the design changes, as the theme changes from park to park the coasters have different themes. Which in itself gets confusing because you have to set the research off again to get the new coasters for your parks.. There are a certain amount of coaster types you can build in , each area, and if you have already built that they will tell you, you cannot build another one in that area instead you need to pick another design and place it in the area.. When it comes to building a coaster you have two basic options.. They are picking out a pre-built coaster, which means they are ready made and you can basically just press A and they are in place and earning you money.. The other option is to Custom make them, meaning it is made exactly to your specifications, you decide on every bend, every angle and every ‘Whoa’ piece.. (They are the scary bits like flamed hoops, or TNT alley - explosions!)
When building your own coaster there are a few things that really are irritating especially if you are building one that should be going with a mission, so you have specific build requirements, and given that you have a very small space, it gets a little more than tricky. It can also be very frustrating after your initial climb that after picking a spot and pressing A to place the track, your downward spiral is going to run into another item in the park.. So you spend ages, tilting your track with the triggers pressing B to remove parts of tracks just so you can get them in a direction suitable and not too close to anything else or the guests. Although if you really can’t finish a coaster don’t worry you can actually finish a coaster half way through, save it and be done with it, just thank your Uncle Mortimer’s ejection seats that have a little umbrella type thing in them meaning the guests float safely to the ground..
Editing The Rides
There are a number of ways to edit the rides, from changing the paint schemes, to changing the actual state of the rides themselves. To change the colours, your character needs to walk up to the ride and select A when you see the hand symbol, which means you need to select the paint option, and if you have no real preference what colour you want your ride, you can choose the paint splatter option which will place randomly selected colours on the ride and you can keep clicking this until you get the colours you desire.. Editing the ride features like the price is just as easy to do, by selecting the manage menu, you can change the price of the ride, how many cars and the speed of the ride which will then attract or make guests walk away from your ride, given that you need the guest to ride them to make back the money you paid to build the ride in the first place..
What I Think
Well building the stalls and games are relatively painless thankfully, just plonking them down and leaving them there to make you money, but building the coasters from scratch is the definition of annoyance. If you can get the track to go where you want it too, you will not be able to get a ‘Whoa’ piece in it because there just wouldn’t be any space for it let me assure you of that.. The greatest thing is that by getting fed up with the coaster means you can leave it as a crashing coaster and charge more because the guests like paying through the nose to ride a crashing coaster!! Editing the rides is so easy, you don’t even need to really think about it colours I tend to change per colour scheme in each park, for example there is a nice western theme area, so all the rides are a sandy, dusty colour to match in with the theme of the park.. If not it is just as easy to pick the splatter that will just give you random colours.. This is exactly the same for all the games, and the stalls but the stalls only have 3 colours to choose from so they are easier to pick rather than being lazy and picking the splatter!
Is the Xbox Live aspect of the game, this is where you and three other players can take your pick of the mini games on the disk that you can place in your park to be played online.. To play these you must pick the difficulty and type of play, such as battle, single or team playing, after that you can invite your friends to get playing some of the weirdest games I have seen on the Xbox including one called ‘Bandito Chinchilla’ which involves something that looks more like those little dogs that sit in Paris Hilton’s handbag, which goes around beating up other animals for a reason that once you begin playing you totally forget and just laugh at the way this little animal walks about, and really quite how poor the graphics are on this game, it couldn’t get any more two dimensional if it tried. There are a few different games that as you play them you wonder, why such a modern game is relying on some very basic graphics and some poor ideas for games, the games you used to play on some of the old consoles that work on a flat screen on scenery and you have people on bikes, or jumping and looking for different places to pick up prizes.. All in all these games are really quite amusing because they are so poor looking, and they easily remind you of how games used to be, the games I played about ten years ago, when we didn’t have the luxury of connecting it online and playing with other people all across the world.. The simple uncomplicated times that they were! Playing this with other people isn’t all that bad, if you don’t mind playing these naff looking old games and laughing at just how silly the little characters look, when punching turtles - I wont explain you just need to play Bandito Chinchilla if you get the chance just to see what I mean.
This is not something I really need to explain in great length because it is obvious what it is all about, it is the place you can build coasters and save them to your warehouse so when you need them you can import them into your game and save you time building them when in the middle of a game.. Only problem is that when you are building one of these you have as much space as you like, where in the actual game, you are very limited by height and length of the track especially if you have other games and the pathways to avoid it becomes very difficult. However this option is good if you just want to practise your coaster building, getting in the twists and banking pieces so you know how to place them in the actual game.. It is also good for showing the tutorials before you start playing so it doesn’t take up valuable playing time when you are looking to earn money to keep your park open..
As you wander around your park as I said before you can speak to the people in your park and become friends with them, and if you pick a teenage character you can also flirt with some more appropriate characters in the park. However you may find some character of the opposite sex might take an instant dislike to you if you happen to choose the hug or kiss option when you initially greet them. Although be persistent with them and you might just get lucky.. There is also another treat in it for you if you do get chance to fill your ‘My Crowd List’ if you know what I mean, not only do you get your treat, but you also get the chance to ask all your friends to challenges which are a key part to keeping your guests happy, you can challenge them to games which keeps the competitive nature of the game without having to play online with your friends to be competitive.
What I Think
The other modes of play are a little boring unless you have Xbox live and you have plenty of people on your friends list that are willing to play with you, because this game otherwise is very much a one player game, where you spend more time interacting with the characters in the game rather than your online friends, but it doesn’t stop you doing the same things as you would normally if you are in a party on Xbox Live. The graphics for the little games are really quite appalling as I have said before, but through the rest of the game they are somewhat average, because the characters have fairly basic stances, and the girls tend to stand with their hands on their hips and seem a little stuck up.. The male characters well they try to be far to cool, if you have seen the advert for ‘17 again’ the Zac Efron film the idea that he is trying to hard - well that is what the male characters look like in this game.
The actual game is so easy to navigate, you go along filling in your missions, by creating games and coasters, to the level of nausea or thrill that is desired and watch the bars fill up, and as a direct result of this your money will increase because you are making money from the bits and pieces that make up the game, such as stalls and games.. That means your level in the park will increase too, and the more you go up, the more money you get, meaning you can spend more in the park to make it more attractive, whether by employing more of those annoying people that really do not like learning to clean up after themselves even though they get paid far too much for the quite shoddy job they do.. I know that it is my fault that they do a bad job but I tell you something the employees are so irritating you wouldn’t want to train them up.. Especially the entertainer that really does solidify a stupid stereotype that all cheerleaders are busty airheads.. Ok so maybe I am having a rant here but still it is very irritating..
The one redeeming feature this game has.. Well there are actually two, one is just how easy the achievements are to get, it takes a few minutes into the game in the first place to get the firs achievement, I won’t tell you what it is but it honestly doesn’t take too long to get it - that and a lot of them you can get without even realising it, they just pop up and you look and think oh yay my gamerscore is rising nicely, and if you are like me and impossibly competitive about it, that is nice and impressive.. The other good thing, is that you have a relatively good sound track, including Blur, Lilly Allen and Ally & Aj, if you remember them from a few years back?
It sounds like I am just complaining about this game doesn’t it? Well I can’t say I hate it because I have spent a good 2 or 3 hours a night playing it for the past few weeks, so it is quite addictive. Even if it is only because I like the quick arrival of new achievements or running around collecting little things that mean I can build different coasters, or get extra money, or in one section you can even get rid of all the anti - Thrillville propaganda posters.. It is a nice easy laid back game to play and because it is easy, you will get people wanting to borrow it off you.. I lent it to my boyfriend for a night and he spent almost 2 hours on there and completely ignored me for a while, so I will not be lending him that again! It is worth it if you can get it for a bargain price off eBay, or for around £10 off Amazon as I have noticed the price fluctuates..
Price and Availability
The cheapest place you will probably find this is eBay, because the beauty of eBay is that you get what you desire for the cheapest price the majority of the time, but then again don’t bank on it! There are a lot of copies of this game on eBay for £8.99 buy it now so a bit of a bargain really!! On amazon.co.uk the game is currently at £14.90 but I can almost guarantee it will change within a few weeks! Play.com have the game for £24.99! Which is quite expensive really!!! It is best idea to just take a look around as prices change a lot but I don’t really think it is worth spending £25 on!