LucasArts Thrillville: Off the Rails
- Tons of mini-games and roller coaster options ensure hours of solid gameplay
- Cheesy, over-the-top story geared towards kids makes it hard for adults to get into the game; inability to change individual sections of roller coasters discourages editing
Off the Rails does a great job in appealing to a younger crowd, which is encouraging for those looking for a good holiday gift; however, its cheesy style is lost on anyone over the age of 12.
Price$ 89.95 (AUD)
No waiting lines here -- Thrillville: Off the Rails grants you a fast pass to amusement with the tools to create your own theme park.
The excitement of raising an entertainment empire filled with roller coasters, carnival rides, and games you've designed yourself provides a good amount of fun, but a cheesy story and minor quibbles keep the thrills in check.
It's a world of laughter
Through the course of the single-player campaign, you manage five amusement parks: Stunts, Otherworlds, Giant, Explorer, and Holiday. Each possess three uniquely-themed "villes" such as Holiday's autumnal Scaryville, the scaled gumdrop lanes of Giant's Candyville, and even the intergalactic atmosphere of Astroville in Otherworlds. It's your job to make sure everything runs smoothly by scheduling regular maintenance and meeting attendees' basic needs. Of course the main attractions in Off the Rails are a slate of nearly three dozen mini-games and customisable roller coasters. The mini-games offer a never-ending distraction with arcade shooters, robot boxing matches, and other zany activities that are fun to pick up and play for a few minutes.
At the heart of Off the Rails, though, are the roller coasters. Expanding upon the first game, you have a full arsenal of coaster-building parts including new "whoa!" pieces that add thrills like a ring of fire or corkscrews to your rides. Creating a coaster is extraordinarily easy, requiring little more than setting track down with the left thumbstick and A button. You don't even have to fully design a coaster -- hit the right bumper and the game automatically completes the track for you. The only drawback in an otherwise phenomenally intuitive coaster creator is the inability to edit individual sections of track. Whenever you wish to make changes to a ride, you're forced to delete entire sections instead of simply altering the intended part.
Managing your parks demands more than creating cool coasters -- you have to clean up the dirty work of conglomerate Globo-Joy. Much like its dodge ball-focused athletic subsidiary, Globo-Joy concerns itself more with destroying fun than creating it. A good chunk of your time is wasted dealing with the messes created by Globo-Joy agents, which range from hypnotising attendees to bribing theme park critics to sabotaging rides. Having an evil corporate entity bearing down on you might motive some youngsters to rapid build their park infrastructure, but it feels hackneyed. There just isn't a need to create a conflict between good and evil in a game like Off the Rails -- keep it in Sunday school.
The game's youngster charm ultimately ends up as its greatest strength and weakness. Off the Rails does a great job in appealing to a younger crowd, which is encouraging for those looking for a good holiday gift; however, its cheesy style is lost on anyone over the age of 12. If you push through it and there's fun to be had building outrageous coasters and posting high scores for the slew of mini-games. It may not be totally off the hook, but Off the Rails packs in enough thrills to make a play worthwhile.
Struggling for Christmas presents this year? Check out our Christmas Gift Guide for some top tech suggestions and more.
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