Theme Park World (aka Sim Theme Park) was released in 1999 as the sequel to Bullfrog’s Theme Park. It was the 4th game in Bullfrog’s series of games about construction and management. The game brings the original Theme Park up to date, and it does an amazing job of it! It’s presented in 3d and a lot of the financial management stuff that I didn’t like about the original game is gone, with the focus moved much more towards construction.
This is my second post in a mini-series of posts on old Theme Park Sims. The first post was on Bullfrog’s Theme Park.
Starting the Game
First things first, this game just won’t run on modern systems because of DRM. There is no support for the game anymore and it will not work out of the box (unless you’re running Windows 2000 or lower). EA included some DRM which did not allow the game to work without the disc inserted and this DRM doesn’t work on Windows XP or later, leaving you unable to even open this (and many other old EA games) on modern operating systems. Fortunately, there are many fans of this game and it’s quite easy to get it setup and working with patches!
There’s a few versions of this game; PC, PS1 and PS2. I don’t own the PS2 version (yet), but there are reasonably significant differences between PS1 and PC. I’m playing on PC, because I think it is the better version.
The game starts out with an offering of 4 parks, but only two of them are unlocked from the start; Lost Kingdom and Halloween World. The parks are very heavily themed, with all the rides based around said theme. I started with Lost Kingdom, where all the rides are themed around gorillas, dinosaurs and things like volcanoes. Even the rubbish bins and toilets are themed.
You can start the park with a small pre-built area, or start from scratch. I chose to start from scratch, but it’s nice to have the option to have a head start. The gameplay itself starts out quite slow, but once your park grows and money starts rolling in, things start rolling and you’ll be kept fairly busy. New rides, upgrades, new shops etc all come around quite quickly, there’s maintenance to do such as calling for mechanics when your rides are about to break down. I always like to fill every available square with scenery too. You’ll also have to keep an eye on your guests to make sure they’re happy with the food and drink offering and that they’re able to find toilets.
There’s a new advisor, who is a black dot. He can get a little annoying, constantly telling you to assign patrol areas to your staff amongst other things, but as long as you do what he says, he’ll mostly leave you alone (also you can turn him off).
There’s some random events which your advisor will alert you to. Visitors occasionally set off stink bombs and you have to call on your janitors to clean up, you can get a litter bug who will toss litter everywhere and you can get a ‘prankster’ who pops your guests balloons. There’s also challenges with cash rewards, for example I got one asking me to sell 60 drinks in 30 days and another which asked me to build a go kart track with 4 cross roads.
To unlock new parks, you have to get keys. To get keys, you need to get golden tickets. You will generally get these passively over time as your park fills up with guests or from building exciting rides. The golden tickets can be used to unlock new special rides (for free!) and every three golden tickets nets you a new key. Your money does not carry between parks, so it’s pretty much the same game each time you go to a new park but with alternatively themed rides.
One great feature in this game is you can go into ‘camcorder’ mode and walk around your park and ride the rides. You can even ride your custom rollercoasters! This is a good way to kill some downtime and it’s really nice to be able to walk around your park that you put time and effort into. Way back in the early 00s, it was a really big deal for me to be able to walk around my park. I was much more into Rollercoaster Tycoon than any of the other theme park sims, and I just wished there was some way to ride my cool rollercoasters.
Theme Park World is a great game that’s worth trying out if you get the opportunity. It has a little micro-management, but the game is almost entirely designed to be a park design and construction sim, with the business side of things taking a back seat. It’s not without it’s problems – the guests are utterly hopeless at finding food and drink stalls and their path-finding leaves some areas of my park deserted. It’s also a little bit prone to locking up and crashing (old game problems – make sure you save a lot). In spite of this, the whole game has a fun and relaxed feel about it and I hope to see it officially supported in future.
If you want to help get this game officially supported, you can visit the GOG community wishlist page. For now, it is considered abandonware and you’ll have to patch the game to get it working.