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Theme Park logo  CU Super Star

It's all fun of the fair with Bullfrog's amazing theme park simulator. Cal 'the clown' Jones overcomes motion sickness to take the ride of a lifetime.

Theme Park After the floods, lightning strikes and plagues of Populous, the wars of Powermonger and the flame-thrower carnage of Syndicate, Bullfrog's latest creating might seem a bit tame. Theme Park is very much a family game - it's not unlike Sim City, except that instead of fire stations and stadiums you're building roller coasters and burger bars, and ticket prices replace taxes as a source of income. Violence doesn't seem to enter into it at all, unless you count people being sick, thugs who break into the park and beat up your entertainers and rides that explode, hurling the unfortunate customers into orbit. Still, what it lacks in violence it more than makes up for in the entertainment department. Theme Park is good fun, and don't let anyone tell you otherwise.

The game is based on a relatively simple idea: using money left to you by an eccentric aunt (which varies from $50,000 to $150,000 according to the level of difficulty) you have to build the ultimate theme park. It isn't just a case of slapping down roundabouts willy nilly you also have to provide paths to walk on, food stands, gift shops and, of course, toilets. You'll also need to employ people to take care of it. mechanics are a necessity, if you fail to keep your attractions in good working order, they explode, rendering both the ride and the ground it's built on unusable. Handymen are also a must, because without them your park will start to disappear beneath a sea of burger boxes, coke tins and vomit. And then you need a security guard or two to evict troublemakers from your park. Finally, the kids need to be entertained, and who better to this than a bunch of second-rate, out of work actors dressed in various animal costumes?

LEVEL HEADED
You can play the game on three different levels. The most basic, the sandbox game, is suitable for younger players and those who are new to the game and don't want to dive in at the deep end. At this level, all you have to do is make sure that the money you spend on building rides and shops is balanced by the money you make from admission prices and shop goods. New attractions become available each year, and if you can afford to buy them, you can build them straight away.

Theme Park The intermediate level is known as the sim game. You have to do everything you would in the sandbox game, but you also need to research almost everything which goes in the park because it doesn't just get handed to you automatically any more. This is where it starts to get tricky. Research costs a lot of money, (you can alter the amount from slightly pricey to horrendously expensive) and whilst it's tempting to get all the flashy rides as soon as possible, you could find yourself slipping heavily into the red if you spend too much.

Research money can be pumped into different areas. You can invent new rides or improve the ones you've already got, develop new shops and sideshow, make the park a even nicer place by creating better toilets, plants and fountains, pump money into staff training or boost the buses which bring the punters to the park.

It's up to you whether you concentrate your research money into one area or spread it across several, but don't forget that the shiny new roller coaster you just built is little consolation to the person who is forced to go to the toilet in a awfully cramped, dirty and smelly wooden outhouse.

In addition to research, you'll have to negotiate pay rises and increases in the price of stock for your shops. Every so often, the negotiation screen pops up, and you have to reach a deal with the union representative before the pile of biscuits in the centre of the table runs out. You can raise and lower your offer, but if you fail to come to a compromise within the time allowed, bad things happen. If it's a pay dispute all your staff will stage a mass walk out and if your rides go up in smoke, there's no-one there to fix them. If it's a goods negotiation, the company supplying the goods will simply stop sending them. And that's bad, because hungry punters who can't find anything to eat will take the next bus home.

IT'S THE BUSINESS
The hardest level is the business game, and this features all of the above and more besides. On this level you have to order stocks for the shops in your park (and these always run out quickly), and you will also be able to make money buying and selling shares on the stock market.
Whichever level you choose to play at, there will be rival theme parks which are always trying to take away your customers, and on business level they can buy shares in your park or you could buy shares in theirs.

Theme Park Theme Park has a lot going for it - it's colourful, addictive and fun. Unlike Sim City, you don't have to stop after you completed your park; instead you put it up for auction, take the money and start up a new one somewhere else in the world. There are 22 different locations to conquer Britain is the only one you can afford at the start of the game and each has its own advantages and disadvantages. The American parks are pretty straightforward because the weather is good and the population is rich, but try building one in Antarctica if you want a real challenge.

I haven't enjoyed a game this much for ages - in fact, it has become something of an obsession with me. Whether you're young and eager or old and jaded, Theme Park will keep you going into the wee small hours of the morning. Buy it.

CU Amiga, September 1994, p.p.70-71

STARTING YOUR PARK
Theme Park First things first: you need to lay a path. Select the path icon and drag it in the direction you want it to go.
Now add a ride. The bouncy castle is cheap and fun, and whilst it isn't very exciting, it's a start. Theme Park
Theme Park Your punters need something to eat Mr Whippy makes exceedingly good ice creams.
Next, recruit some staff. Mechanics are vital for fixing rides, handymen keep the place clean and entertainers entertain. Theme Park
Theme Park The punters won't be over impressed with the rides you have now, so put some money into research.
The speed at which new rides are invented depends on how much money you have invested in research. Theme Park

ELECTRONIC ARTS 34.99
A500
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A4000
ELECTRONIC ARTS, 90 HERON DRIVE LANGLEY, BERKSHIRE SL3 8XP TEL: 0753 59442
 
RELEASE DATE:
GENRE:
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HARD DISK INSTALLABLE:
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OUT NOW
SIMULATION
BULLFROG
MOUSE
4
1
YES
1Mb

 
GRAPHICS
SOUND
LASTABILITY
PLAYABILITY
85%
88%
95%
95%
Incredibly addictive it'll keep you up all night.
OVERALL: 93%