Theme Park – A Truly Classic Sim Game
There are some games that are so iconic that they create an entirely new genre of game. Theme Park by Bullfrog is one of those games. Released on quite a few consoles and portable computers back in its heyday, the original Theme Park game really did start the ball rolling on what is now described as a construction and management sim. With the original SimCity laying the foundations for this new genre Bullfrog swooped in to claim the prize for me when it comes to this genre of games.
Although I own this game on a good half a dozen consoles, you really can’t beat playing this with a mouse and keyboard so today with my hangover still in full swing I am going to be playing this on the Amiga 1200. Now for any of you guys who have never seen an Amiga 1200 let me set the scene…
The Story of a Hungover Gamer
A gamer wakes up, peels his head from the pillow like a sticky sweet that’s been kept in the wrapper well past its sell-by date. He slowly crawls to the games room closing every blind on the way there as the sunlight hurts him more than a mogwai gremlin. Finding parts of the Amiga at a speed that can only be put on par with the slow-motion scenes from Baywatch. The battery alone weighs more than a small (very square) baby as he puts this beast of a machine together plugging in everything one by one. A huge stack of 3 and a half inch floppy disks are hanging over him like the Leaning Tower of Pisa. Somewhere near the bottom is Theme Park crying out like a damsel in distress, begging to be played. Rather than attempting to move the disks to the one side one by one, “Hungover Gamer” as he will now be known, is going to attempt to move them all at once. But what HG doesn’t know is his hand to eye coordination is completely out of the window along with any ability to drive a pod racer from Star Wars Episode One.
The game is finally found and he jumps up screaming like a child that finally found Wally (or Waldo as the American readers call him) after staring at a book for over 30 minutes. The disk is firmly pushed into the portable computer and the massive power adapter is switched on. The screen turns black and a red flashing message appears:
For those of you who own or previously owned an Amiga, you will know this is the equivalent of getting the blue screen of death on a PC or red ring of death on an Xbox. The game is screwed… Luckily HG remembers that there is a second working copy in that big stack of games and after another 10 minutes of Wally searching, finds it.
We Meet Again Nostalgia
The game boots up and the ball mouse is ready to go! The Amiga had a lot more power behind it than many of the console versions of this game. The game starts out with a brilliant 3D cut scene that any child in the 90s would have been gobsmacked by. It even had a first-person view of a rollercoaster in the opening intro that was just EPIC.
Once you get into the game itself it is very much like the other versions of the game you know and love but the sound effects and music are far superior to the others out there and to play it with a mouse and keyboard, exactly what the original developers had in mind when designing it, really pays dividends.
To get your Theme Park up and running you drop in a few bog standard rides; A bouncy castle, a tree house, a maze and the deathly spinning cups that one of my teachers in school actually broke a rib on at Alton Towers.
Taking a Trip Through Theme Park
To progress further and get the elusive roller coasters of awesomeness you need to open up the research panel and get paying some money to your little scientists looking into new and improved rides and food places for your theme park. This little touch is a great way to keep the game running at a slow pace giving you time to build up funds whilst your researchers gets you the rides.
Once you have a few rides down you open the gates to your theme park to get the money rolling in. You set the price of and rides as you go along and keep them competitively priced. You can always increase or decrease the prices to keep everyone happy. With the help of the Theme Park owner at the bottom of the screen, you’ll know if you are too cheap or too expensive which is really useful.
You have your first few rides down now so next upkeep your customers there for longer by feeding them up with refreshments and food. I usually keep all of my food stands in one place so that I can get a cleaner to just clean that one area reducing the cost in staff… That’s a hungover gamer top tip right there!
Don’t Forget Snacks
When it comes to food you have to start thinking like an evil corporate giant. Make your fries stall cheap and completely fill them with salt to make your customers thirsty as hell. Then open up a drink stand next to it, make your drinks really expensive and fill it up with over 50% ice to keep costs even further down. You and Ronald McDonald can now hold hands and skip around your little food court area trying to dodge the puke from the weird fat kid that somehow managed to feel sick after eating your overly salty chips and going on a bouncy castle for a minute.
To keep your park running smoothly you need to hire some staff. A few cleaners to get rid of the puke and food thrown around by some annoying litterbugs in your park and a few engineers to fix your broken and burning rides. Now for me, the staff part of the game is where it gets even more interesting. Once every now and then you have to negotiate wages and if you get it wrong your staff will go on strike and pretty much all of your rides will burn to the ground and your park will be filled with that much vomit you will have to hire Moses to part it with a staff.
Let’s Make a Deal
The negotiation screen is quite fun. Two big hands reaching from one end to the other. Now another hungover Donald Trump gamer tip here is to move your hand across to the other side of the screen straight away and then slowly move your hand away coaxing your staff back across to the lower than minimum wage part of the screen. The second that timer gets near the end don’t risk it agree with the final price and keep everything running smoothly.
Once you have researched bigger and better rides you can build roller coasters and design the layouts for rubber tube rides that spell out a rude word… Hey, I ain’t talking from experience here but I found an old save game on the Amiga that had THE BIGGEST penis shaped ride I have ever seen. Now I have never seen an overhead view of Disneyland or Alton Towers but something says to me you don’t find that in your average theme park.
As you get better rides and the money is coming in, you can buy new plots of land and start the process all over again with different weather and interests of the local population being a slight factor.
Theme Park – Perfect for the Hungover Gamer
That is Theme Park in a very long-winded nutshell. An awesome 10 out of 10 games for any gamer; hungover or not.