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Tuesday December 5, 2006 8:35 pm

Thrillville PSP Impressions

While every new system gets its fare share of hate, I’ve gotten especially annoyed at those that say the PSP needs more support from developers.  The past few months have seen an explosion of fine games on PSP spanning many genres, and at this point the system probably has the most solid new software line-up heading into this Christmas season.  Today, I decided to give folks a look at one of the newer releases which came as a surprise to me, but a pleasant one nontheless.

Thrillville places you in the role of a theme park manager.  Those of you familiar with the Roller Coaster Tycoon series would know what to expect here.  You’re put in charge of a series of parks, with the ability to create new rides, stalls, and games for its visitors.  At the same time, you’ll need to keep a watch on certain critical park factors and adjust your expansion accordingly, given your limited resources.

A game like this coming to the PSP is a remarkable achievement, in part because of the technical requirements, and also because it fills a very unique niche in the system’s library.  Running about the park, you can take part in any of the games that you’ve built, whether its miniature golf, arcade shooters, or platform-type challenges.  You’ll also be able to hop on board any of the rides you come across, and change your camera perspective while on board to take in the experience from multiple viewpoints.

The whole thing plays like an innocent Grand Theft Auto, but with a customized world you build and interface with from the ground up.  The coaster you see in the first screenshot above was a completely unique creation I built myself.  Track construction is so simple that it becomes an engrossing pleasure all its own; the directional pad changes the curve of your current track piece, and special loops and twists are available via the R shoulder button.  Riding your coaster is the final satisfaction, and even then you’re able to change the colors of various pieces, along with speed, number of carts, name, and pricing.

As you earn money from park visitors, you’ll make progress towards the next park, with different themes all their own.  You’ll also be able to interact directly with visitors, and have buddy-building chats and flirtatious exchanges with the girls.  Much more can be said about the mini-games—cheerleader training borrows a little from DDR, while trampolining has you spinning in mid-air, linking trick combos.

The more you play the more engrossed you become in the details, tweaking each aspect of your rides to perfection.  Truth be told, you could probably barge your way through the game in a matter of a few hours, as the challenges presented to you aren’t difficult at all.  It’s striving for that feeling of park perfection that’ll keep you glued to your system.  Make adjustments to the prices of your rides and you’ll see lines grow smaller or longer as a result.  Change the location of the exit gateways for each ride, and you can guide the flow of customers to the next attraction, and thus more continued profits.  The whole park becomes a living, growing thing of your creation, and it’s all amazing to see it happen on a portable system.

Overall Thrillville is an impressive package that offers a little something for everyone.  The only drawback to the whole experience are some extended load times when crossing from one park into the next.  But it’s little detraction to those wanting a fun and unique portable experience that only PSP makes possible.  Highly recommended.

Gallery: Thrillville PSP Impressions



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