In Thrillville, you are tasked with running an amusement park for your Uncle Mortimer while he researches alternative fuels for his rides. Uncle Morty is kind enough to walk you through the basics before he leaves you on your own. There are 5 tutorial modules that cover the areas of the game. Once you’ve completed these, you have to keep the park running and also complete missions, which will enable you to build bigger and better parks.
The mission system is also broken into five areas, including areas for games, rides, staff, patrons, and budgets. Each mission is an individual task to complete, such as cheering up a park guest or riding a new rollercoaster. Most of these tasks involve playing a mini-game. The better you do in the game, the better the rewards, including cash for your park.
The mini-games were really enjoyable, and they are the element that keeps Thrillville from being just another tycoon game. These games range from racing games, to mini-golf, to a Dance Dance Revolution-type game used to train your entertainment staff. You can play a mini-game as part of completing a mission, or you might be challenged to a game by a patron. You can also play in multi-player mode with up to 4 people. I didn’t get a chance to try out the multiplayer game, but I think the mini-games can only be more fun if you’re playing together.
Some missions will ask you to interact directly with patrons. You can also talk to any patron in the park simply by clicking on them. Once you’re talking to them, you are trying to make friends with them. Having friends among the patrons has its advantages, including the occasional challenge to a mini-game and valuable opinions on games and rides. However, there seemed to be little strategy to the actual conversation. If you keep picking random topics, usually you could find something that would have the patron responding favorably. Sometimes the topics were really silly, since your character seems to spout random facts out of an encyclopedia rather than engaging in an actual conversation. Still, it is nice to interact with your park guests rather than attempting to manage their wants and needs in a vacuum.
Mini-games and chats with patrons are only part of Thrillville. There’s the daunting task of park management, too. What’s nice is that you can choose to immerse yourself in the budget stuff, or you can basically ignore it except for the occasional mission. The park does a good job of running itself, to be honest. I think that it would be a pain to micro-manage in the console environment, so I like the fact that you don’t have to get your hands dirty other than occasionally hiring some new staff.
The area where you can have real fun getting your hands dirty, though, is in park design. You start out in Thrillville managing your uncle’s park, but you can make changes to it and eventually branch out to your own park. There are pre-built games and rides that can be placed with a simple button click, or you can design your own. No matter which path you choose, you can ride all of the rides and play all of the games. This is really fun and also helpful when designing, say, a new rollercoaster, because you want to be sure that it’s going to be a fun ride (and not too scary) before the patrons get on.
Graphically, Thrillville looks pretty good in a cartoonish way. It’s not particularly smooth, but that doesn’t detract from the fun. The soundtrack was fun, but not obtrusive. I liked the voice acting demonstrated during the patron conversations, too. Sometimes it felt like Uncle Mortimer chattered on for too long, though.
Thrillville is pretty darn fun. There are so many options to choose from that you can have a good time playing no matter which you choose: mini-games, Sim-like interactions with patrons, ride design, or park management. Multi-player mode gives you some great mini games to play with friends, or during a party. All in all, Thrillville is a real thrill.
Even so, I'm really a casual gamer. I enjoy sim games because I get to build or make things, and on MMORPGs I usually have 10 or more characters going at one time so that I can experiment with every possible combination. I like thinking while I'm gaming, which explains my enduring love for text adventures, and my refusal to ever play an FPS.