Sim Theme Park (PSOne)
MSRP: $39.99
Number of Players: 1-4
Developer: Bullfrog
Publisher: Electronic Arts

out of

Amusement parks. You gotta love 'em. The thrill of the rides, the rip-off midway games and the crappy, expensive food. Yep, you gotta love 'em. In fact, videogame designers seem to think you'll love them so much that you'll want to run one. Witness Theme Park, RollerCoaster Tycoon and, now, Sim Theme Park. Bullfrog, who were responsible for the original Theme Park, have revamped the concept a bit and made the game available on the PlayStation.

Sim Theme Park, aka Theme Park World in some parts of the world, takes the original Theme Park concept and expands on it. The basic idea, however, remains the same: Take a plot of land and turn it into a profitable amusement park. You can add rides, shops, and sideshows to your park as well as providing employment for janitors, security guards, entertainers and mechanics. You're responsible for maintaining a balance between customer satisfaction, employee satisfaction and profitability. You can't let the park get stagnant either, as researching new items is a must to keep people from getting bored with your park.

The maintenance of the park is handled through a fairly intuitive process of highlighting objects you wish to manipulate. Basically, you center the item or person on the screen and hit the appropriate buttons on the controller. You can upgrade rides, delete them or, in the case of roller coasters and log flumes, edit the tracks. When manipulating sideshows or snack stands, you can alter different aspects of the business, like the price of prizes or the amount of fat in a hamburger. Experimentation is the key to finding what the customers like and dislike. Sometimes, it's difficult to get the item you want select which item you want highlighted due to the fact that the cursor is invisible. Eventually, you'll get it, but it's harder than it needs to be.

If nothing is highlighted in the center of the screen, the circle button will bring up your laptop screen, which allows you to research items and rides or do other administrative functions on the park. You can hire park workers, take a look at charts and graphs that track your customers' happiness levels, park attendance and other attributes. All in all, the game provides a nice set of tools to work with in constructing the park.

Unfortunately, the game also provides some annoying features, namely the pop-up "assistant." This "helper" pops up in the lower right hand corner of the screen to give you advice. It's a great idea, but it ultimately goes sour due to a number of factors. Namely, the assistant gives conflicting advice almost constantly. (Actually, he's giving you all kinds of advice almost constantly. Little of it is actually useful.) He'll tell you that the park employees are getting ready to strike and then two seconds later he'll you that you're doing a great job. Before you can do anything to solve the labor problem, he'll say, "I don't know what you did, but it worked. The entertainers are going back to work!" Very annoying.

The game's graphics are a fairly good attempt at recreating the fun attributes of an amusement park. When a ride or attraction is in use, it bounces and gyrates around. Appropriate sound effects serve to add to the game's atmospheric feel. Neither the graphic or sound are anything that will drop jaws, but both serve the game well.

One added bonus with Sim Theme Park is that you can now visit the park you construct in 3D. This is done via a reward system that uses "Golden Tickets" to reward you for achieved objectives. Get four "Golden Tickets" and you can purchase a camcorder which enables the first-person perspective view of the park.

Overall, if you're into simulations or management-type games, Sim Theme Park might appeal to you more than the average gamer. For the average gamer, there's not much in the way of action and the game doesn't provide much to prolong your interest level once you've tinkered with it for awhile. Sim Theme Park looks to be a weekend rental at best for most gamers.

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