“Adventure Park” has some big shoes to fill, especially with how much work went into the making of the “Roller Coaster Tycoon” series. I’ve honestly lost count of the number of years I’ve put into that series as a whole…it’s just THAT good. Unfortunately for us, the last “RCT” game (“RCT3”) was released in 2004…a whopping nine years ago. I don’t know about you, but I think it’s past time for an upgrade. That begs the question…will “Adventure Park” fit the bill? Before we answer that, I’d like to quickly thank Daniel Krauss from bitComposer Entertainment AG for providing me with a free press copy.
The main menu allows the user to participate in the campaign or the free play mode, create or load a profile, and adjust game options. The options menu touches on screen resolution, audio volumes, graphics quality, and a few other basic settings. I was personally glad to see that I had the ability to create multiple profiles, as there are a few other “coaster” fans in the house. I also liked the options available in free play, as I was able to adjust unlimited cash and unlock all of the content from the get go if I wanted to. The game features a total of eight maps, each with a different layout and terrain.
Before you ask…yes, you can build your own coasters. I know that this is really nothing new in terms of a feature, especially since “RCT” and other games like it have been doing it for years now. Still, it’s good to know that I can send my unsuspecting peons…I mean customers…flying down a track at three hundred G’s. Okay, maybe I’m exaggerating a little…but your coaster designs will affect the G forces and thus, how happy your patrons actually are. The trick will be to satisfy even the most demanding of daredevils without overdoing it. You can also upgrade your rides and stalls, though you’ll need to have the park rating prerequisite first in order to do so.
Visitor happiness plays a big part in whether or not your park succeeds. As a whole, the way visitors were treated in this game reminded me more of “Zoo Tycoon” as opposed to “RCT”. For starters, you unlock the use of new buildings by increasing your park rating as opposed to throwing money into research and development. Each visitor has a guest book and they will grade you after exiting your park, mainly based on their excitement level. It’ll be your job to satisfy their individual wants and needs in order to access new and better things. As a side note, I liked the fact that each visitor had a different excitement requirement…that is, they prefered a certain quality of rides and facilities. “RCT3” had this too, but it often didn’t matter as much for your park’s health and growth.
Like other coaster sims, you’ll need to hire personnel and manage your staff to keep your park running smoothly. These include gardeners, cleaners, and mechanics. In an odd twist however, your staff has a limited work area in which they’ll navigate and patrol. Luckily, you can expand or reduce this work area at will, giving you some more control over where they go. Cheerleaders and mascots are surprisingly absent, having been present in both “Thrillville” and “RCT”, respectively. While “RCT” enabled you to train your employees, “Adventure Park” simply gives you a choice in hiring workers at different star levels. The higher the star rating, the more skilled the worker and the higher the salary.
In terms of content, “Adventure Park” doesn’t come close to the sheer amount of options one had in the “RCT” series. For one, there are a little over twenty rides in all. Compare this to the hundreds of rides available in “RCT3”, a game that is almost ten years old. Along those same lines, the amount of scenery you can place is limited. I know I sound like a broken record at this point, but “RCT3” had numerous themes and close to fifty plus objects per theme…some of which even animated and interacted with coaster rides. I discovered maybe a total of five special effects that worked alongside other rides. The parks in “Adventure Park” are also fairly small, giving you limited space in which to work.
As if that wasn’t enough, there are no official line queues. Assuming there is a path to the entrance or at least, to the ride itself, patrons will just pop right into the ride. Coaster tracks don’t have the ability to loop or bend, though you can raise or lower the level on some of them by holding the middle mouse button. I just felt more empowered in “RCT” than I do here. You also KNEW when something in “RCT3” wasn’t right…like when you saw a coaster not make a hill, gain speed in the wrong direction, and slam into the coaster coming in from behind. That trial by fire realism that I’ve come to know and love is regrettably missing from this game.
If I had to compare “Adventure Park” to any other game in the series, I’d have to say that it bore a resemblance to the ugly stepchild of “Theme Park” and “Zoo Tycoon”. It just doesn’t have the oomph that “RCT” does, which is a real shame. I was really looking forward to a coaster sim that I could sink days or even months into. Just to clear the air for a minute…while I’m disappointed that this game isn’t the “RCT” standard, I’m even more disappointed by the lack of common features considering today’s level of technology. The music, for example, completely drowns out the ambience the rest of the game has to offer. That wouldn’t be so bad if the music didn’t consist of maybe one or two tracks that looped into infinity. I had to turn the music off, just so that I can hear the patrons converse. As a whole, there’s really no excuse for the shortcuts taken here, unless a half-assed game is what the developers were going for.
As it stands, “Adventure Park” is a fun romp in the park (no pun intended) in short bursts, especially in free play mode. Those looking for an in-depth coaster sim won’t find it here, though those who accept its shortcomings and don’t mind the simplicity will more than likely get a good deal of time out of it. To be fair, the game does have some things going for it: a fair amount of ambience (with the music off), multiple profiles, and the flexibility to set up the game the way you like it. With that being said, $29.99 (as of 11/12/13), in my opinion, is asking WAY too much for the content that it delivers. With only twenty-some rides, the game gets stale after a while despite how good it might look at times. I’d honestly wait for a 75% off deal, something that Steam honors from time to time. Either that, or go purchase “RCT3: Platinum” for ten or twenty bucks less from Steam or Amazon.
Final Verdict: 4/10