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September 8, 2013

Thrillville: Off The Rails DS (Part 2)

Part 1 can be read here.

(Also, pardon the sparsity of images in this article. Pictures for Thrillville: Off The Rails DS are very hard to find. This game has come out on PC and on a few other consoles... Have no worries, the text makes up for it  by being a lot funnier. Especially the big picture-less part somewhere in the middle.)
I'm back to continue this review of Thrillville: Off the Rails. Personally, I think this game's story is off its meds, but who cares.

Let's go with the obvious joke: Thrillville went off the rails with this one. Badum-tish!

So, we are back again at Globo-Joy's meetings, where Mr. X rambles on about doughnuts. He forces everyone out of the meeting so that he can speak with Blabbo himself. Apparently, Blabbo's scientists tried to replicate the WHOA technology, but they failed (and it blew up in their faces). For some reason, Mr. X speaks to Blabbo, but the mascot clown doesn't say a DAMN word, even if Mr. X said he was gonna chat with him. Whatever. Mr. X has a new plan for Thrillville Chills...

And there you are, in front of the horror-themed park named Thrillville Chills. Let me guess: The mascot has been hypnotized, is that it? It doesn't take a genius to know that Globo-Joy really has a thing for hypnotism. And guess what? I'm right! But that's not all! Ghosts and zombies are going all around the park, scaring out the normal customers! Luckily, Bitey the vampire (One of the most ridiculous names ever) knows something. Yet, when you speak to him, he does too much of his vampire act. Hands off, you idiot! My family name ain't Swan! Heck, the place scares Sam Handy, the private eye. To distract the guests, you build a roller coaster with WHOA sections. What a world of impressionable people: They see costumed people, they think it's real. But build a pretty roller coaster and they'll forget the fake monsters!

I remember going to a park once. It was better than this.
Wait a second... it's not costumed people, the ghosts are actually HOLOGRAMS? It gets worse: To break the holograms (which are fueled by fear; “Wait, What?” Rating: 12), you must change the bad fear in the park to good fear, by building a themed attraction. There goes the haunted house! That place feels like the Monster House, for some reason. Building a few pizza stands will also help. After you get more thrills out of your guests, your park is almost saved from the trouble. Except Bitey still thinks he's a real vampire. I said hands off, you big-headed costumed freak! Your Transylvanian accent isn't even realistic! Anyway, a game of Reasoning later, Bitey is back to normal. You now move to Thrillville 2525, which on the world map is located in... Antarctica. (Just this increases the “Wait, What?” Rating.)

P.S. Down there, that's not a caterpillar, that's a WHOA section on a Thrillville roller coaster.

Meanwhile, at the villains' lair... Mr. X is angrier than ever. He starts thinking that there must be another reason why the Thrillville parks are so popular. Globo-Joy's researchers give lots of good reasons, such as the overall friendly feel of those parks! But yet again, evil cannot comprehend good, the economist does not understand the emotions. Yes, they're gonna go there in this game. Anyway, Mr. X searches in a box and pulls out a ridiculous device that will apparently cause Thrillville's downfall... Welcome to Thrillville 2525, a park that simulates the future by having lots and lots of science-fiction stuff. The park is invaded by aliens! Alien clowns, too! If you can't guess who is behind this other failure of an evil plan, then you are an idiot. So, to get some information, you immediately ask the park's mascot, Rory Rocket; of course, he's too in-character to make sense, so instead you ask Sam Handy, who saw Willy Wombat around. You still have to beat him at Whack-A-Wombat, though. So, Wombat spills the beans again, and talks of a machine named the Re-De-People-ifier... (WW Rating: 16) STUPID NAME FOR A MACHINE! STUPID, STUPID NAME! I know this is a game for kids, but come on! Oh yeah, by the way, who builds a park in a zone filled with endless pits? It's a miracle no kid jumped off the border and fell to his doom! ...Yeah, if you pay attention to the screen, you'll notice the map for 2525 is field with gaps that don't seem to have a bottom. Congrats for the LEAST SAFE PARK EVER. Say, here's an idea for Globo-Joy: Push a kid down there! This alone should destroy Thrillville's reputation and make them go bankrupt! But no... instead, they got Re-De-People-ifier and Hypno-Disks.

After you build a roller coaster awesome enough, an alien clown decides to speak. The machine teleports guests out of the park, to Blab... Yes, he almost reveals the name of the villain clown. The whole idea was to teleport someone who had WHOA plans on them. Gosh, is everyone working there a goddamn, stupid clown? To counter the machine's effects, you have to build enough rides so that the visitors will... RESIST from the machine that tries to teleport them away. (WW Rating: 21!) Anyway, your mascot is still scared, so you gotta play the Reasoning game with Rory Rocket. Now that your Buzz Lightyear knockoff has been brought back to calm, you can move on to your last park... Thrillville Pirates!

Geez, I'm feeling sympathy for the only employee at Globo-Joy who isn't an evildoing, mischievous cracked nut of a clown. He's getting blamed for the failure at Thrillville 2525. Mr. X decides to unleash his final plan against the last park, while the normal employee gets waterboarded and plungered. “Spare no expense!” Mr. X says, as he accidentally reveals his real name starts with “Ver”. “Veran”, “Versatile”, “Vernon Dursley”, “Vermin”, “Very stupid”? Your guess. Anyway, you enter Thrillville Pirates to find out that a ton of mimes has invaded and they're boring all the guests, forcing them out. Wait... THAT's your final plan, Mr. X? YOU, SIR, ARE A VILLAINOUS DUMBASS. The plan in 2525 had even better chances to work! The “Wait, What?” Rating has reached 25! I swear, if that thing reaches beyond 40 with this park, I'm gonna drink tonight till I get drunk!

Anyway, seeing as there's absolutely nothing in this park, you first build a few attractions to pull the guests out of boredom. This park is the one with the longest story missions, since it's the last one. You'll see, some of the missions take a lot of time. Though, once it's done you go talk to Pirate Pete, the park's mascot, a giant parrot dressed as a pirate. He thinks the park is cursed. He also claims the mimes stole his ship. (WW Rating: 27) However, you get the plans for the pirate ship and build it to calm the mascot down. When you speak to Sam Handy, he tells you that the mimes parachuted into the park a few days ago, and they're the ones boring the guests so badly. Apparently, the mimes brought a machine called the Voodoo-Youdoo-Doodad (I'd love to, but I'm really not kidding, that's the machine's name), that instills boredom in everyone at a particular location. To get those mimes to talk, it will be hard.

But what has this game's history taught us? You can solve anything by reasoning with people, building more attractions, challenging people to games, or providing roller coasters with WHOA sections. So you do just that, build a WHOA roller coaster, with 4 WHOA sections. Uh oh, it must be an inverted roller coaster, and you don't have enough WHOA blueprints for it! ...Damn, you'll have to go back to the previous parks and play some management missions to get the remaining WHOA sections and, hopefully, you can then get this story going. Be ready, though, because this little detour is probably the most obnoxious of the whole game, you can never tell ahead of time what reward you'll get from management missions. And you start getting WHOA blueprints for inverted roller coasters starting at Thrillville Villainy. There, I spared you a goddamn hour you'd otherwise waste completing missions in the first three parks.

So, a few mimes now seem interested in your roller coaster, but they still won't open their yappers. You gotta challenge them to a carnival game in order to finally get one to talk. AND you also put the, um... ridiculously-named machine at stake in this match. Once you win, though, the mime speaks of how the Doodad (Urgh...) releases waves of, I quote, “non-harmonic Moly-Jorium”, which equates to, I quote again, “bad Mo-Jo”. (“Wait, What?” Rating: ONE HUUUUNDREEEEEEEED!!!) And of course, he reveals that Globo-Joy was responsible for absolutely everything that happened. And yes, apparently that mime lost his job because he lost his silence.

What happens once this is done? You completed the Story Mode. Globo-Joy Enterprise gets arrested, their parks are closed down – I suppose – and you now reign as champion of the amusement park industry. Now, it's time to kick Six-Flags and Disneyworld out! Nah, just kidding. Disney owns LucasArts now, after all, so there's no way you'd compete against yourself! However, there's still a ton of management missions in your six parks that you can still complete. Those will unlock a lot of things for you, and it should increase your play time by a few hours, hopefully.

But, that's not all! If you want an additional challenge, sort of, you can play every one of the carnival games you can buy for your park. Each one is available in Easy, Medium and Hard difficulty. If you manage to make a good enough score in Hard difficulty, you unlock Prestige difficulty. In this, you begin in Easy difficulty and the game gets increasingly difficult as it goes. You have scores to beat for each of those games, and when you beat each, you win collectibles related to the game you played. Also, when you beat the highest score in a game, a Game Master enters the park, and you must then play against that Game Master to win the biggest reward for that carnival game. And yes, it's this way for all seven games. It's not boring, but it's something you won't try to do if you just keep it to the story mode and management missions.

This game.... Screw this mini-game!
Say, what are the seven carnival games, by the way?
-Air Hockey: You play against an opponent and you must beat the required score by tossing the puck in the opponent's goal. Simple enough, but if it goes in your goal three times, you're out!
-Donkey Derby: I hate that one. You toss balls into holes with a score indicated. Your donkey moves by the amount of points you won. You must arrive first to win. Tossing the balls is awfully imprecise and more often than not, you'll lose because of the awful programming of this game.
-Frantic Fishing: You have a few fish tanks opened, and you must drag each colored fish to its corresponding colored tank. It starts easy enough with only red and blue fish, but it gets harder with two more tanks opening up.
-Putt-A-Hole: Mini-Putt! Need I say more? As the game progresses, you'll have to play despite the field's irregularities.
-Sparkle Pop: You toss darts at floating balloons. It's simple enough, but as the difficulty progresses, the balloons get smaller and harder to hit.
-Thrill Hoops: Basketball, fair enough. With a net that starts moving as you increase the difficulty, fair enough. But at the hardest difficulty, the net has decreased in size! Dammit!
-Whack-A-Wombat: Self-explanatory, you must hit the wombats coming out of the holes, but don't hit the platypus or you'll lose points.

Well, fishies, for this game, I must tank you.

That's for the regular games, but there are additional minigames in this; they appear when you try to upgrade your employees (groundskeepers, electricians and entertainers). When you decide to do so, you are sent to a minigame that has two difficulty levels (as each type of employee can be upgraded twice). Here are the games.
-Groundskeepers: A lesson in recycling. You must toss the food presently on the ground in the wastebaskets, pick up and put bottles, cans and papers in your recycling backpack (...What?), and clean up the road of what I assume to be vomit.
-Electricians: Two nodes, one on each side of a 3X3 grid, and 8 of those squares have carved lines. You must move around the squares in order to connect the two nodes with the lines, and do this twice for each difficulty.
-Entertainers: You are given a series of colored spotlights, and you must re-create the series. Good old memory game, Simon Says or something.

Thrillville: We got cheerleaders! But they all look like children. That's... kinda lame.

As for additional rewards, when you complete a park's story mode and/or unlock a new park, you gain new skins for your character. You can now walk around in your park disguised as any main character you saw in your game, might it be the mascots, your allies, or the villains. It's weird, though, to see your male character suddenly transformed into Princess Thrilliana. Or your female character become a bandit pirate. That thought is just scary and wrong in so many ways. You can also gain achievements based on gameplay aspects, such as collecting a record amount of money or thrills in a park, playing for a long amount of time the game, keeping maximum happiness for an amount of time, keeping the rides clean or functioning for an amount of time. That's a lot of achievements to be won, some of which are much longer to obtain than others.

Well, that's it for this game. What's my final verdict? The story SUCKS! It's godawful. This game might be targeted towards children, but even they would find it horribly childish! The characters' names are horrible. The names of the machines are horrible (except maybe for the attractions). The plot is absolutely awful; why would you care about those characters? Aside from snarking and "playing games", your avatar does nothing much. There's no real stakes, there's no danger, no way you can lose either. Even the villains really suck at their job. That's what happens when you're stuck with using G-rated evil. Gosh, even the Kids Next Door made more sense than that! At the end, the payoff is really bad, there's no real conclusion. This story sucks, sucks, sucks. Plus, after a while you'll feel like you're being baby-talked to. Biggest offender, the Voodoo-Doodad-thingy. As for the game itself? I must admit, it's kind of fun. The story, while it unravels, does a pretty good job as a tutorial of some kind, so that you can manage your parks the right way. I'll give the game that. The minigames are fun, and the rewards are neat. Even after Story Mode is completed, you can spend a few more hours trying to get absolutely everything in the game. But that story... That STORY! Gosh! It almost ruins the experience.

So... yeah. It can get you hooked, but because you want to get everything, not because of an appealing story. Tycoon games don't all need such a story. On the contrary, sometimes they just pit you in an enterprise and you do your best to achieve the best rank in the enterprise. That's all.

If you want to play something serious, skip this game. It's not worth it. However, if you don't mind silliness, you might enjoy it. All I say is, don't get too hyped up about the story, it's really not this game's strong point.

This Friday, what's the game? A five-fold game with yet again arcade stuff. On this, read you soon! ...Okay, now where's my booze... and I must remember to repair the WW Rating machine... Hm, maybe I should rename it the WTF Counter...