The Sim craze has taken over America and Maxis is leading the charge. With their recent releases of Simcity 3000, The Sims, and Sim Theme Park they are planning a virtual monopoly on the genre. Each game offers its own kind of charm and appeal and caters to a specific audience. With Sim Theme Park (the only one released on both PC and Playstation) they are trying to grab a younger audience that may be put off by the complexity of their other titles.
Bullfrog, the creators of the original Theme Park game that hit the PC, PSX, Saturn, and even Jaguar, developed Sim Theme Park with Maxis and EA to back them up. Like the original game you are in charge of your very own park and it is up to you to keep the customers happy. Provide plenty of rides, food, and of course bathrooms or else people will stop coming to your park. You also have to make sure the rides are kept in good repair and the park is kept clean. This is accomplished by making sure that the park is well staffed. Hire qualified janitors, guards, mechanics, entertainers and researchers (to create new rides) and your park will be a wonderful happy place.
The park design goes far beyond putting this here and that there. On each of the coasters, it is up to you to lay the track. You must place pylons for support, raise or lower them to create drops, and twist them for hairpin turns. You can even add a loopty loop, but you better have a trashcan or a bathroom near the exit. Since there are four different themes to choose from, the game provides a great many options for rides and park creations. My only wish is that you could combine your parks to make a super multi-themed park.
One of the major differences between this version and the older one is that you have the ability to walk through the park and ride all of the rides from a first person perspective. You can look in the faces of all park visitors and step in the puke on the ground at the exit of the spinning whirlwind ride. Though this feature is only interesting once per ride, there are so many different rides and booths that trying them out provides endless fun. This is especially fun for kids who get to navigate through an area they have created themselves without having to worry about jumps to make or obstacles to avoid. Plus going up a steep incline right before the huge drop still hits me with that same anticipation as it does on the real coaster.
If you are a big fan of Civilization and Sim City 3000 then you will probably find Sim Theme Park a bit juvenile for your tastes. There is very little financial complexity, and it is more fun than it is strategic. It is a good beginner version of Sim City like say Clue Jr. or Monopoly Jr. are to their adult counterparts; perfect if you have a child since it is a good game to play with them. Unlike other kids games on the market there is a novelty to creating you own Theme Park even if it is mostly full of annoying little brats.
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