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Thrillville: Off The Rails Review

Colin By:
Colin
11/09/07
PRINTER FRIENDLY VERSION
EMAIL TO A FRIEND
GENRE Sim / Minigames 
PLAYERS 1- 4 
PUBLISHER LucasArts 
DEVELOPER Frontier Dev. 
RELEASE DATE  
E10+ Contains Fantasy Violence, Mild Lyrics, Mild Suggestive Themes

What do these ratings mean?

Remain seated until the ride comes to a complete stop.
Permanacer sentados por favor.


Amusement parks have classically been designed by trying to imagine what a child would build if they were able to. Thrill rides, carnival games, and funny hats are par for the course. The good parks are meant to be visually stimulating, with themes, entertaining buildings, and the Starland Vocal Band...

click to enlargeOf course, if I was manager, the Starland Vocal Band would be thrown out the gates on day one. And that's exactly what Thrillville: Off The Rails lets you do. Very obviously designed for kids, this is a good family game that even adults will be able find some fun. Design coasters, entertain guests, sell food, and riding the rides are your core tasks. Though it can get a bit repetitive for adults, there is a ton of content that kids should especially enjoy.

Thrillville: OTR is a sandbox game putting you in charge of a series of amusement parks under attack by the evil Globo-Joy. It is your job to help these parks become popular again, and fend off competitors and their dirty tricks. To do so, you must fulfill a series of missions requiring you talk to visitors, satisfy their needs and play a ton of different mini-games.

Make no mistake about it, there is a huge boatload of content in Thrillville:OTR. As with any game that has this many different and varied mini-games, some end up working better than others. Vending has you playing a basic version of Bust-A-Move. Training entertainers has you hitting directions and buttons timed to the music like DDR (minus the dance pad). Want old school? There's a pretty good knock-off of 1942 in there as well. There's even a side scrolling action game with a chihuahua in boxing gloves. You can never go wrong with a chihuahua in boxing gloves, especially if you call him Chinchilla for some unknown reason.

To make your park successful, you must research, build and manage your parks rides and attractions. Thrillville: OTR lets you choose what kind of park you're building, though you still have to pay attention to your customers. You can make mostly exciting rides, but you might lose the kids. If all the rides are kiddie rides, good luck getting teenagers into the park.

click to enlargeBuilding the rides is one of the best parts of Thrillville:OTR. Carnival rides and attractions just need to be placed in the right spot, but coasters can be designed from scratch. The building tools are fairly easy to use, and kids especially should delight at being able to build crazy coasters. Your coasters are graded by both their thrill (high is good) and nausea (low is good). Once complete, you can even ride the rides from a first person perspective.

The missions are usually very easy to accomplish, but varied in scope. Most involve things you would have done normally, such as “Build a coaster with a 80 thrill rating.” Again, I should reiterate that this game was designed for kids and is fairly easy to play. Missions you didn't even know you had get accomplished accidentally all the time. I found myself looking at the mission menu often to see what I just beat.

Talking to people is one of the best ways to see how your park is doing, unfortunately, it's also one of the least developed areas of the game. Characters seem to either like or hate subjects, but it's totally random. Conversations such as:

*pet category* “You like pets?”
“No, a dog once bit my sister.”
*general question* “Well, what did you do last weekend?”
“I played with my two dogs.”

Because the pets question and the weekend question were in different catagories, the game did not realize that it just contradicted itself. This happens a lot.

click to enlargeIt is really easy to get nit-picky with Thrillville:OTR, but most of the complaints are about depth. Similar to the conversation system, there's a whole management system for the park, letting you manage loans, costs of rides, cleanliness of the park, and more. However, as I said before, this is unapologetically n kids game, and none of those management tasks are really necessary. This lets kids  play the game as just entertainment if they don't want to worry about numbers. While a better designed management scheme would have been nice for older gamers, designers made the right choice to focus more on the kids.

The only real major complaint about the game is the lack of a blank slate that allows you to build an entire park from the ground up. Each of the parks in the game has a specific layout, constraining your building efforts to preassigned areas. Having a more open system would have given this game some extra longevity and would once again help getting the older gamer in on the action.

In the end, Thrillville: Off the Rails is a great kids game that adults can enjoy playing with their kids, though they're unlikely to touch it after the little darlin's are put to bed. Despite some obvious faults, kids will love managing the parks and dealing with the wacky situations that they must solve. This is a family game that even the most die-hard antigame activist could not possibly have a problem with, and is a great addition to your video game library if you have young ones about.
B- Revolution report card
  • Tons of content
  • Made for kids
  • But only for kids
  • No free build mode

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More information about Thrillville: Off The Rails
Also known as: Thrillville