Lucas Arts were today demonstrating several of their new games in a behind-closes-doors session. The first demonstrated was Thrillville Off the Rails, a theme park game that you run as the manager, all the while building new attractions and so forth.
There was initially a slight awkwardness when Lucas Arts asked if anyone was familiar with the original Thrillville. All five of us at the presentation kept quiet, but the developer explained this is because the game didn’t do so well in Europe, however it was very popular in the US. The new game will be released over here again for the 360, PC, PS2, PSP, DS and Wii, so chances are you won’t miss it this time.
The game let’s you build a brand new theme park, and you can choose which rides to include as you so wish. Building a rollercoaster is very simple, with the ability to rotate each piece freely. It’s simple to do and not hampering at all, allowing you to quickly get a ride done rather than spending hours perfecting it. Also if you can’t figure out a way to join the coaster back up to the start, there is an option to let the game work out the best part for you; super-handy if you have ever played Roller Coaster Tycoon and have managed to trap yourself.
You’ll need to keep your guests happy, which can be done with a very in-depth chat option. Going up to guests and hitting A will present a whole host of different options for topics of conversation. Ask them about a ride and they will tell you what they thought, then you have other options again, so you can give guests presents or free ride passes to keep them pleased.
A new “feature” in this version, if you can call it that, is the ability to not finish your ride. You can still open the ride for the guests for them to ride on though, presenting almost certain death for those that don’t realise the ride doesn’t end. Thankfully though, this isn’t Roller Coaster Tycoon, and all trains on the roller coasters carry ejector seats, meaning no-one dies, and they parachute to safety. In the demo we saw, it was a very happy world and all the guests were excited and pleased with the theme park. As such, when one guest was asked what they thought about the ride that had just crashed, the little girl replied “The ride just crashed. It was awesome”. A child’s game that actually looks fun and is amusing? Yes please.
Not every guest can be trusted though. Some guests will have mysteries about your park that you will need to figure out, and it is here where the one hundred missions come in. Little was said about this as the guy demoing hit the wrong chat option, but suffice to say it is at least enticing.
There will also be some minigames available. Some meaning thirty four in this case. A huge amount if you haven’t played the original, but if you have you will probably recognise twenty of them, as they have been re-done but with new levels. We were shown a boxing game between robots that was wacky but also quite fun.
The graphics weren’t the best that we saw from Lucas Arts, however they were good enough to do the job pleasantly, and the framerate appeared pretty solid. Whether this game will again be unpopular in Europe remains to be seen, but for Americans that enjoyed the first, it’s probable that you’ll enjoy this even more thanks to a deeper storyline and a richer environment.
We were told the game will ship in Fall 2007, so no doubt some time in November or early December.