Sega CEO Hajime Satomi says he wants to improve the quality of their games moving forward. That could mean a lot of things. It's nice to hear, but what they do next with their games is the real answer.
Adventure Park Review: A Wild Ride?
Release Date: 8th November 2013
Publisher: bitComposer Games
How well a game is received has a lot to do with its genre. If there are a lot of high quality games fitting a particular niche then the expectations of future releases rises. This is in part because new games have the opportunity to learn from previous titles, improving on their mistakes and championing their strengths to cater to their target audience. Adventure Park, then, has a tough job as there are many beloved amusement park simulators/tycoons in the ring to contend with such as the Rollercoaster Tycoon series, and many customers are expecting something even better, especially at it’s high price point.
Adventure Park is indeed very similar to Rollercoaster Tycoon – you sprinkle rollercoasters and other attractions around your park, set prices and ensure toilets and stalls are on every corner. As your park rating increases you progress from 1 to 5 stars and unlock a selection of new rides and decorations to play with, as well as the option to apply upgrades and increase the inventory of shops. You are also in charge of stationing technicians, gardeners and cleaners around the park to ensure that everything goes perfectly.
The most glaring and serious problem with Adventure Park is the lack of variety. There are only 21 different rides in total and 2 of those are tiny ‘kiddie rides’. This means that there are as little at 3 proper rides in the 1 and 2 star categories and only 2 unlocked at 5 stars. It may be enough to preoccupy you on your first playthrough but once you know what you’re doing it becomes very boring to simply build a couple of rides and stare at the screen until you hit the next star. For a game that claims to ‘let your imagination run wild’ there’s really not a whole lot of choice. This is perpetuated by the fact that there are 5 different themes of rides, from pirates to space to dinosaurs. While it seems interesting at face value you quickly realize that the only way to build a complete park is by having a specific area for each theme and there’s no way to deviate from that plan as there are so few rides.
The attractions themselves are very well made and interesting to look at. There are lots of cool little details that you only notice when you zoom in and some of the plants are particularly pretty. The music is also of high quality, however it can often be somewhat dramatic and not very fitting of an amusement park atmosphere. The ambient sound is pretty lackluster also as you have to be zoomed in quite close to a ride to hear the cheers and screams of the passengers, and even then it struggles to be heard over the music.
The actual rollercoaster building process is a bit of a mixed bag. It’s completely freeform, so there aren’t any wild corkscrews or loops to snap on, and while you can kind-of make the same shapes yourself it’s quite difficult to get them looking natural. Simple coasters can be made in seconds with the smooth interface but with restrictions in areas such as steepness and overlapping tracks it’s very difficult to make the terrifying rollercoaster of your dreams, full of loop and twists.
One of the main issues that cause the game to have next to zero replayability is the AI of the park visitors. Primarily, they don’t flow throughout the park very well – they tend to all bunch up on the first few rides near the entrance and ignore the ones built further out. If you build the park too densely this problem can become extreme, with 75-100 guests piling on the first few rides only to complain that the wait times are too long and that there isn’t enough ride variety. This also damages the park atmosphere as you don’t see very many people walking around the grounds or using all the rides. This bug makes one of the last campaign levels pretty much impossible as you have to improve the income of a restaurant by building an amusement park around it, but it’s situated in an awkward place that take guests a long time to walk to. This means you have to terraform everything to force people to travel to it (and even after that I still had to physically pick visitors up and trap them in a fence next to the restaurant).
There are some rather minor issues throughout the game that build up and can be rather annoying. For instance, there’s no indicator of where the front of a ride is so whenever you place something you have to zoom in a little and try to identify the entrance. There’s also no way to move anything, so if you build something one square to the left of where you actually want it to go, you have to sell it for a loss and rebuild it in the right position.
There are a lot of flaws in Adventure Park but even still it’s not an objectively terrible game. The problem is simply that there are so many incredible rollercoaster tycoon games already available with so much more creativity and freedom that, despite having better graphics, make this game simply not worth the money. Adventure Park had the opportunity to bring the rollercoaster tycoon genre back into modern gaming but they took virtually none of the things that made previous games so loved.