E3 '07: Thrillville: Off the Rails Impressions

Keep your hands inside the vehicle at all times! Frontier showed us a demo of its new Thrillville title and how it's trying to redefine the sim-park genre.

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Thrillville is a relatively new IP, making its well-received debut last year and praised for its lack of park micromanagement. Thrillville is back this year on a number of platforms, and from our demo appears to have made some nifty changes to some of the minor gripes about the last game.

To start with, the game's trailer focused heavily on buzz words like "Thril-ocity," "hurl-o-metrics," and "party-hearty-technics," all of which seem like perfectly cromulent words to us. Thrillville is less about managing a park and more about building the craziest rides you can come up with.

Click to enlarge!

Since roller coasters are what you're really here for, Frontier has included in Off the Rails a large range of prebuilt rides you can drop straight into your park and customize. The "trick out" feature lets you select between various designed themes, or you can go to town and turn your ride into something a bit more exotic. Rider popularity will be reflected by your choices, so conservative may not be the way to go if you want to generate some buzz. On the flip side, making it too over the top may stop customers coming to ride it.

Not surprisingly, customers are a huge part of Thrillville, and rather than have to do virtual paperwork to understand what it is they need, the best thing to do is simply walk up to someone and ask them. The NPCs we saw in the game world seemed to respond quite well. One mentioned the lack of bathrooms in a given area, giving the player a reference point rather than studying charts and statistics. Granted that's the appeal of some of the other theme park games, and for those who enjoy the micromanagement side, Thrillville may not be for you.

Building roller coasters for your space is fun, with a wide range of prebuilt designs you can select from. The real fun comes when you take one of those coasters and swap parts around to build something a little more original. These aren't your regular rides either, with Sonic the Hedgehog-esque loop-the-loop moves, corkscrew spins, sudden drops, air time over gaps in the track, and flaming hoops to pass through.

At its heart, this is fundamentally a roller coaster-builder game, and every effort seems to have been made in development to make that as simple as possible for players. Intuitive menu systems and easy parts selection goes a long way to making it accessible and fun.

The original Thrillville featured minigames spanning shooters, top-scrolling plane games and dungeon hack-and-slash fighters. Thrillville: Off the Rails is stepping that up to 34 games, with 20 of the games back from the original and an additional 14 new ones crammed in for good measure. LucasArts ran us through a quick game of robot boxing on the Wii version, using both the Wii Remote and Nunchuk to throw punches and block. Keeping in the fun-by-being-helpful-vein, the Wii version even pops up a small box at the bottom of the screen displaying combo moves you can try to pull off.

Thrillville: Off the Rails offers genuinely unique experiences on each of the platforms, with the Nintendo Wii version giving you the ability to gesture your moves as you create a roller coaster. Twisting your hand intensifies or reduces the curve or steepness of a piece of track. The Xbox 360 version will include Xbox LIVE support, letting users share their custom-made roller coasters with players on their friends list. Not all the details have been ironed out, but at this stage you'll be able to ride their tracks, and perhaps drop them into your park for your customers to try out. The handheld version will get some love too, with the DS title benefiting from a complete engine rewrite from the ground up. No details have been confirmed yet, but we can see the DS stylus offering some innovative ways to create rides.

Pure sim game fans may be slightly put off, but this title puts a firm foot in the casual sim game market door with its mix of the traditional without some of the laborious micromanagement systems found in other games. Keep an eye out around October this year for its release and a full review here on GameSpot.

Discussion

28 comments
dubsbr
dubsbr

YEAH!!!!!!!!! WOOHOO! I'm getting some Thrill-ocity here!

skipper847
skipper847

This game sounds like a change from all the action games it will be different in a good way and carnt wait for it. My fave games are FPS action but this will make a nice change. Carnt wait

Simpsons2102
Simpsons2102

this game looks awesome especially for nintendo wii

teammojo
teammojo

My son and I had a lot of fun with the PS2 version and I'm sure this 360 update should deliver more of the same.

zriemul
zriemul

mmm i played the first version and got addicted, collect money and build my own roller coaster! and i got the chance to flirt many guys! lol.... hope this one will be lot better... am waiting to come to my land! this will be on my watch!

magic_khan
magic_khan

it's could b fun i never tried but i would b..........

_AbBaNdOn
_AbBaNdOn

One of the koolest part of the first one was building crazy coasers with high speed and lots of twists and turns. When 4-10 people would finish a ride there would be a massive pile of vomit out in front of the ride afterwards lol.

_AbBaNdOn
_AbBaNdOn

The first game was ok. What sucked was there were "walls/boundaries" in each area of your park which restricted and controlled how you could build your rides. So building rides kind of sucked. I thought the best part of the game was all the minigames. It sucks most of them are getting rehashed but I look forward to the new ones. If you have a friend to compete against this game is really kool and fun. But on its own and by yourself its kind of lame.

ookami-gamer
ookami-gamer

i've alwaysed loved rollercoaster tycoon. looks interesting. i would probably rent it rather than buy, or at least wait till the original price drops.

gmrndlze
gmrndlze

cool! I like Roller Coaster Tycoon games, and this seems like it could be just as fun.

AnFangs_Endes
AnFangs_Endes

The title makes it sound like it could e fun; I didn't read the above, but, by the sound of the title, you can launch roller coasters at stuff-good times :D

Sacif
Sacif

gonna suck, nothing like rehashed genres

msudude211
msudude211

Looks like a Roller Coaster Tycoon rip-off. :?

Thorpe89
Thorpe89

Can't wait to try out Thrillville: Off the Rails. I didn't get a chance to play the one previously but this I will check out. It may not be your RollerCoaster Tycoon game but it's probably the closest you'll get at the moment.

jesus_knight
jesus_knight

this game could be a lot ofun, when i first saw the pics i thought it was a sims game

Bansheesdie
Bansheesdie

The Wii version sounds like a lot of fun, you can actually pertend your on the coaster, thats cool. The 360 version sounds better though, uploading custom tracks onto Live to share is a very good feature.

Pete5506
Pete5506

looking good I have to say

magicmo
magicmo

Roller coasters are cool. :D

DouglasBuffone
DouglasBuffone

I really want to play this, I really loed the first game, it was just plain fun

comthitnuong
comthitnuong

Talking to customers sounds pretty cool and I am interested to see how it will work out.

icytower
icytower

Sounds like a fun little game, might give it a shot if I get the chance.

playstation_wii
playstation_wii

I can't believe that the coaster can just fly off the rails!

cubeman
cubeman

I hope that in the end this game turns out to be good. I may end up checking this game out. Seems like a cool series to get into.