It seemed like an awfully strange mix — take a management simulator, cross it with a mini-game collection, and simplify it enough so that it can be enjoyed by the entire family. It could have gone terribly wrong, but the original Thrillville ended up being quite a bit of fun. It was quite successful, too, so it’s no surprise that LucasArts is now bringing us a sequel to this make-your-own-amusement park game.
If you’ve played the original game, you’ll be able to dive into Off the Rails without much trouble. Not much has changed with the game’s interface and structure. When the game begins, you find yourself in charge of a Thrillville amusement park. The park is divided into three themed areas, each with specific zones where you can build roller coasters, go-kart tracks, rides, games, and refreshment/souvenir stands. After a few brief tutorials, the park is yours to roam. The goal, obviously, is to make your park as successful as possible.
This is done by building a park that meets the demands of your guests. As you wander the park grounds, you can approach any of your customers and engage them in conversation. They’ll gladly give their opinion of the park, which you’ll want to use to make improvements. It’s also wise to befriend your guests by continuing to talk with them about a wide variety of other subjects. You can even flirt with guests of the opposite gender or try to hook them up with other park patrons. In addition to creating goodwill, these conversations are usually quite humorous. After playing for a while, though, the comments begin repeating themselves. Later in the game, we found ourselves skipping past the dialogue altogether so that we could make friends as quickly as possible.
A Carnival for the Human Race
Once you have a few ideas for improvements, it’s time to get building. Creating rides, games and stalls is as simple as selecting them from one of the game’s easy-to-navigate menus and positioning them in the park. Building roller coasters, go-kart tracks, and mini-golf courses can be a bit more involved. With these, you can choose to design your own ride layout. The controls to do so are surprisingly simple, although if you get a little too ambitious with your coasters or kart tracks it can be tricky getting them to loop back to the starting point. Luckily, a track assistant can be used to automatically close things up.
One of the new features in Off the Rails is the addition of “Whoa” pieces that give your coasters, race tracks, and golf courses a little extra zing. These special pieces often fly in the face of real-world physics and they help boost your attraction’s “thrill” rating. If constructing your own ride intimidates you, there are plenty of pre-built models to choose from. And yes, you’re able to ride your coasters, race on your tracks, and go putting on your golf courses when you’re finished.