I’ve enjoyed a good theme park creation game, with even the not so great ones offering at least a decent amount of fun. The one game that I enjoyed the most – aside from the RollerCoaster Tycoon series – is Thrillville. And the reason for liking it has little to do with the theme park side of things. Well, that is part of why I like it, but the major reason is to do with one thing. Everything available within the parks can be played in some form.
Built a ‘coaster? Ride it or play a score-chasing game. Need to restock the burger shack? Here’s a puzzle game to help you do so. Even the training of the staff had you playing some sort of game. But the best part about it was every attraction having a game attached, with some feeling like full old-school games. Games such as Sparkle Island and Bandito Chinchilla have multiple levels to them, while others only have one level but offer a lot of replayability.
As one single package, it was absolutely worth it, with multiplayer also offered on many of the games. There was a range of genres on offer, and with the ability to create your own race courses to zoom around on, the theme park management side of things could easily be overlooked. But even that theme park management offered its own fun, what with the on the ground management style. In other words, you had a player character who could freely wander the parks.
Thrillville has been left in the dust since Off the Rails released in 2007, but the core of the game – in fact all of it – could offer a games publisher who controlled a vast library of IP the ability to use most of it in one single game in a much greater capacity than any other collection could. Think Nintendo Land but magnified a hundredfold. And that idea is exactly what I’m concepting in this article.
Since it would be a theme park management game (supposedly), it’s best to get those core mechanics fixed first. The guests and staff would be – naturally – Miis. It just makes the most sense for a game like this, after all, but if the advanced system used in Breath of the Wild can make them look more human, this game deserves to use that system as well.
The guests within the park will have fun with the attractions on offer, but as park manager, you can interact with those guests and challenge them. Each guest has a happiness meter, which will increase quicker if you interact with them, building the overall amount of points you have to spend. See, happiness is the currency within this game, with rides, attractions, shops, and even decorative items being purchased through happiness points. The same is also true for new areas within the parks.
Speaking of the parks, the story related ones would be structured like within the Thrillville games, but more open-ended. You’d start with one area of moderate size unlocked, then unlock others of a range of sizes withn that park. While things such as terraforming of terrain wouldn’t be available, there would still be freedom to design the park as you want it within the set available areas, with some having a form of verticality. Each area would have a main path as part of it that would be the starting point for whatever you want to build.
Then there’s the sandbox park, which is just an open plain in one of the themes from the areas you have unlocked. Here, guests are optional, allowing you to go wild building a park using everything you’ve unlocked from across all the parks you’ve played in story mode. And whether in the sandbox or story mode, you have access to a camera drone to allow you to snap some perfect shots of your park.
As for what franchises the parks are based on, Mario and the Legend of Zelda are the two easy ones to go for. Pokémon as a third if it’s allowed (having an area based on a Gym would be lovely), though if not, Splatoon would be an interesting option that would allow for some wild area designs. Metroid and Star Fox would allow for sci-fi style parks, while Fire Emblem would give a more medieval style park. If a Nintendo franchise has multiple games as part of it that can offer a lot of variety to areas with its park, it should be included as part of the roster of parks.
Everything within the park would be themed after the franchise it is based on, with special parts available for rollercoasters, racetracks, and the mini golf courses for when you create them. A bob-omb explosion set-piece for a ‘coaster would have the train stop, the bob-omb explode, then the track falls slightly to launch the train away again. Ink would act as obstacles that would slow the ball in mini golf.
The creators for these would be advanced enough that every creation will feel unique if enough thought gets put into them. The usual creation tools for rollercoasters would be present here, allowing for a wide range of twists, turns, and loops along with the set-pieces. The racetrack creator would similarly offer freedom in how the track curves and elevates, with the ability of setting the width of it as well.
As said before, rollercoasters can be ridden, but there’s also a score-chasing game attached as an extra mode. This would be based on the Shooting Range mode from Wii Play, with targets appearing around the track of the ‘coaster that players need to shoot. Alien ships and ducks will also fly around, granting bonus points if a player can shoot them.
As for the racetrack themes, Mario Kart would be an obvious one, with a basic version of its item system in place that uses just green shells, bananas, and mushrooms. Then there’s Excite Truck (or even Excitebike) which would provide an off-road styled track. And just because an IP gets used for a race theme, doesn’t mean it can’t appear anywhere else, such as with F-Zero being a race theme but also one of the games you can place in the parks.
With Nintendo’s vast range of IP, it would be easy to hit over 50 games with the game, all of which offering something unique. I’m not going to list all of them, but group together a few game ideas. The first of which being NES-style games. The 8-bit retro look would be an easy style to include, but it would be wise to keep these to only a few. Don’t want to intrude on the Nintendo Online apps, after all, even if new additions seem to have dried up.
Arena games are those that recreate a scenario from another game with the map and a few missions. There would be two types of this game. The melee type will include characters who use their own fists or other weapons – such as like within the Kid Icarus series, while the shooter type would include characters using longer-range weapons. The two types would have their own control scheme shared across the various games of that type.
Combat Arena games would again feature a map from another game, but use the mechanics of that game to instead create a player against player experience. Kirby Air Ride’s City Trial would be a great one here, whereby you hunt for power ups while also trying to take the other players out at the same time. Vehicle-based games aren’t the only ones that can be used here. As long as there’s some form of attacks that can be performed. A Custom Robo-themed combat arena, anyone?
The platformers of Nintendo can also be featured, though obviously not full experiences. Four levels that tell a mini story should be enough. Perhaps even experiment a bit and feature another franchise not known for being a platformer within this category. Games such as Hey Pikmin and Chibi-Robo: Zip Lash would have probably been received better featured as smaller parts of a larger game, after all.
The last game type I’ll talk of is those up in the skies. The Star Fox and Pilotwings series have something unique to offer, with Pilotwings even having three types of air movement within one game. The aircraft games will be varied depending on the series that game is recreating. Combat, puzzle, racing, there’s a lot to offer with aircraft games, and each can have their own unique style to them as well.
Along with the games, there’d also be attractions and other rides. Stuff like slides, trampolines, a coconut shy, and bowling alleys… and all of it also themed using Nintendo franchises. And all of them fully rideable or playable. All attractions would also be included in the party mode, to allow for multiplayer fun. And speaking of multiplayer fun…
It’s all well and good to build a park and explore it and play around in it, but doing so with friends is always better, and that’s exactly what would be offered here. Whether on one of the sandbox or story mode parks, you can enter explore mode to focus purely on having carefree fun, and invite some friends into said park for a whole lot of fun. The sandbox parks can also be shared for others to explore on their own.
There is a lot that can be done with Nintendo’s IP, and I believe creating a game about interactive theme parks is the best way to utilise as much of it as Nintendo care to. Even those games that might not seem like they’d make sense – such as Wave Race or 1080 – can be featured in some form if Nintendo really wanted to.
Since there’s a lot of community features within games these days, it also makes sense to include the multiplayer side of things. Whether sharing experiences in the moment or after, nearly everyone likes to do so. Capitalising on such – especially in the age of streamers joining together for multiplayer mayhem – would be a huge thing for the game, I feel.
We might never see a game such as this ever appear on the Switch or its successors, or even another Thrillville, but just like with all my concepts, I’m just talking of things I’d like to see, and I hope you all would like to see this become real, too.