Roller coasters and cost management analysis may not exactly go together like cookies and cream, but Adventure Park promises to blend these disparate disciplines into a sprawling, detailed theme park simulator that lets you control everything from the cost of admission to the G-forces generated by your rides – all in the name of generating excitement for your customers and a profit for yourself.
I was advised to play through (and actually pay attention to) the tutorial before leaping into the action in Adventure Park, and it’s fortunate that I did, because the game actually has quite a bit going on, and failure to pay attention to the details can be costly. I began the first of five different scenarios with an under-developed island, purchased on the cheap from a park operator looking to get out of the business. The bare-bones basics of the park – an entrance gate, a broken-down ride, and some paths – were already in place, but I was never going to get rich with those. Thus, step one: hire some people to clean it up and get things working.
Hiring employees offers the first hint that you’ll be doing more in this game than just placing rides and rolling in the dough. Gardeners and cleaners are straightforward enough, but there are five levels of technicians, and more complex equipment requires more highly-trained repairmen. Each worker can be placed in a specific location, and then relocated if it becomes necessary; they also have specific work areas that you can expand or shrink as you see fit.
Rides are the heart and soul of your park, and you can purchase and place them just about wherever you’d like within the constraints of the landscape. The process of doing so is a simple drag-and-drop affair except in the case of roller coasters, which you must design yourself, adjusting height, drops, and the routes they take around your park. Excitement is the name of the game, and the more you can rattle people around – without actually hurting them – the better they’ll like it. But people go to amusement parks for more than just rides. If you neglect the decor, you’ll lose their interest, and snack, drink, and candy machines also need to be placed here and there – it’s no fun being hungry, after all. And where drink machines go, washroom facilities must surely follow, or trouble most definitely will.
An awful lot goes into designing a good theme park, but that’s only half the job. Once built, the park must be maintained and run profitably, and this aspect of the simulation is also impressively detailed. Each facility, from rides to vending machines, has an operating cost, while income is derived from admission fees, ride tickets, and concessions. Finding the sweet spot for everything is vital, a task made easier by your customers, who will offer on-the-fly feedback about prices and excitement levels and fill out your guest book with parting thoughts, too. Rides can be upgraded to attract more customers and earn more money, but more complexity means more maintenance expense. Everything has a cost and an impact on the overall fortunes of your park.
I have to admit that the complexity of Adventure Park caught me off-guard a bit. The simulation is deeper than I expected, yet it doesn’t seem particularly overwhelming and it didn’t take too long before I felt reasonably comfortable with the interface, if not with the demands of being an amusement park mogul. If you’ve ever dreamed of running your own theme park, Adventure Park might be just the ticket. Look for it to hit U.S. shores in time for the holidays.