DS

North America

Thrillville: Off the Rails

by Mike Sklens - December 9, 2007, 1:56 pm PST
Total comments: 1

5

Take a vacation from fun!

Thrillville: Off the Rails isn’t exactly the kind of game you’d expect it to be. The obvious assumption is that it is a theme park simulation game in the vein of the original Theme Park or Roller Coaster Tycoon. While this is partially true, a good portion of your time spent in Thrillville is mission and mini-game oriented.

In this game you take the role of a park manager. Unlike many other sim games, you control an actual on-screen character, rather than playing the part of omniscient manager in the sky. Inside one of your parks, you can talk to guests to gauge their feelings. You can also build new rides and shops, and ride the existing attractions (meaning you’ll watch a short animation of your character on the ride -- what fun!). Walking around the park by tapping the touch screen where you want to go can be a rather tedious task. Thankfully, you can instantly teleport to any point in the park by pulling up the park’s map. This is especially useful, as you’ll need to hop all over the parks to complete their various missions.

The game’s plot puts you in charge of defending your parks from sabotage efforts launched by your rival, GloboJoy. Typically, this involves going into a park, talking to a few key characters, and playing lots and lots of mini-games. You see, in the world of Thrillville, people aren’t helpful for the sake of being helpful, but rather only if you manage to best them in some arbitrary test of skill. In fitting with the game’s amusement park theme, most of the mini-games are recreations of the various kids midway games you’d see on a boardwalk: skee-ball, wack-a-mole, that game where you squirt water at a target to make a horse race across a board, etc. All of these games are very simple, and feel more like chores than fun. The kicker is that lots of the park attractions in the game are unlocked via these mini-games. As such, the entire mission/mini-game portion of Thrillville comes off more as a series of obstacles designed to keep you from getting the most out of the park-management portion of the game.

Once you do get into park management, you’ll find that it isn’t nearly as deep or fun as its compatriots. You won’t be building your dream theme park in Thrillville, as there’s no start-from-scratch mode to speak of. All of the parks are pre-built. You can add, remove, and switch up attractions, food stalls, and coasters, but that’s about it. Because of this, and the sizable amount of money you have to work with, keeping the customer base happy can barely be considered an objective.

Unfortunately, fans of the genre are going to find nothing to enjoy here. The dumbed-down simulation gameplay, simple missions and tedious mini-games all bog the game down. Essentially, it feels like a game designed for children, which is backed up by the quote on the box proclaiming it as “the sequel to the #1 family game of 2006" (based on NPD sales data... and some arbitrary classification of what makes a “family" game). That’s all well and good if you want to introduce your nephew to sim games, but a seasoned gamer will have much more fun with older, more advanced theme park sims.

Score

Graphics Sound Control Gameplay Lastability Final
6 5 7 5 3 5
Graphics
6

The DS can do better than this. The characters are all super blocky and the textures look like vomit.

Sound
5

This game has sound, that’s about all there is to say about it.

Control
7

The menu system is adequate, and being able to zap around the park via mini-map saves this game from becoming a complete exercise in tedium. The only negative is the absurdly complex dialogue-choice system which requires you to draw complex shapes to chose the sentence you want your character to say, rather than just have you touch them.

Gameplay
5

Simple is the only way to describe it. Thrillville offers no challenge.

Lastability
3

There seems to be a halfway decent number of things to do in the game; it’s a shame that none of it will manage to capture a gamer's attention.

Final
5

LucasArts claims Thrillville: Off the Rails is a family game. I suppose the game is indeed suitable for the “whole family", but there’s no way it's enjoyable for anybody over the age of 10.

Summary

Pros
  • A good introduction to the genre
  • Needlessly complex branching-conversation
Cons
  • Missions and Mini-games are boring
  • Park management is too simple
Review Page 2: Conclusion

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Thrillville: Off the Rails Box Art

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Worldwide Releases

na: Thrillville: Off the Rails
Release Oct 16, 2007
PublisherLucasArts
RatingEveryone
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