Six Flags, the iconic American amusement park. Sure you might try to tell me I meant Disneyland, but there is, what, five of those in the world? Well there are 15 Six Flagses! And, and, sir, and Six Flags doesn’t muck up their focus with all that movie making and TV stuff; not to mention NOT being headed up by a giant rat. So we agree that Six Flags is the iconic American amusement park.
When I think of Six Flags I think giant roller coasters. I think big crowds of all ages. I think over-priced foodstuffs, and aching feet. Then there are the merchandise items: huge foam fingers, shirts, bags, hats, and other things to take home that will last at least 3 cycles through the washing machine before they become workshop rags. I think of fun, thrills, and expelling the aforementioned foodstuffs after jumping into terrifying carts of death with 30 other similar-minded maniacs of speed. I think of fun and memories that last forever.
Now we are given an opportunity. An opportunity to bring all that joy home! To be at Six Flags while never leaving the couch. I present, lady and gentleman, Six Flags Fun Park.
The graphics are cute and bubbly. Everything is exaggerated to appeal to the smaller kids within and around us. Everyone walks around with their giant heads, puffy clothing and shoes like the day will last forever. The grass is green and the walkways are obvious even if you don’t have to stay on them.
The park isn’t very large, but the artistic style doesn’t lend to vast detail. The graphics aren’t even all that important. They provide enough color and detail so your imagination can fill out the rest. They do have to account for some scenery changes like litter and weeds so you can really call it more of a canvas than a campus.
The different areas are uniquely themed and entertaining. There’s a town that lives in perpetual October 31st mode with haunted houses, ghosts, and pumpkins all about. There’s an alien world peppered with spaceships, exotic looking flora, and things that beep. Finally, there’s a section devoted to the sea-dogs of the world complete with Flotilla races and scurvy-stricken pirates.
There are plenty of things to interact with, and more to be unlocked as you progress. It’s not exciting, but it works.
I am guessing that in order to make a single image as widely distributable as possible, there is no sensible dialogue. Characters interact in a sort of Simlish, but use comic book speech bubbles we’re largely familiar with to make the point. There is some general noise of customers, standard theme music dependant in which area of the park you’re standing, and sound effects for certain activities you do for extra stuff in the game. It’s rather flat.
There are no screams from nearby coasters roaring past. No calls from vendors selling assorted tooth-rotters or any other sort of voice acting.
The controls are very simple. Point and click your way around the park. Click on items to interact and, occasionally, use the motion sensors in the Wii mote to make something happen. The mini-games consist of 4 basic functions of the Wiimote. We have the casting motion for some fishing games, the dart throw motion, the swing, and a follow-the-cursor action.
These are very rudimentary and almost an insult to the Wiimote’s power, but the game is aimed at the 10+ squad. I feel they are underestimating 10 year-olds in a way that screams: Avoid Vegas. They’re either bad judges of character that will leave you bloodied and penniless in an alley, or so humdrum that you’ll nurse a coffee and people-watch all day.
When I first saw the box on my desk my first reaction was ‘really?’ I assumed it was another attempt to weasel in on the long dead rollercoaster tycoon market. Wow was I wrong! It’s not a simulator at all. It’s an RPG. That’s role-playing game for those that might have started to polish your trigger finger. We don’t shoot down helicopters. We actually talk to people and do missions for them.
So maybe you’re thinking great, I finally get to be the hero of the park and save people from perilous scenarios involving rides gone awry or high-priced hot dogs! Slow down. There is no princess to rescue, or even an evil plot to foil. You pretty much spend your time doing favors for the staff. Yeah. That’s it.
When I picture Six Flags … well we sort of covered that already. I want to buy junk, eat junk, and go on insane coasters that are engineered to bring my heart-rate to the brink of spontaneous combustion. Instead, the game offers us the excitement of pulling weeds, planting trees, picking up garbage, and digging through trash cans. Yes, that’s right: digging through trash receptacles. That’s a great lesson for the kids, eh? The pulling weeds and picking up garbage are useful lessons (at least we parents think so), but dumpster diving for clothing, tickets, or even cash? What the heck is that about?
The 40+ mini-games are nothing more than the same four mechanics over and over. The multi-player aspect is merely 1v1 at who can do the game better than the other. Instead of being able to get into a go-kart and race around the track with the well proven steering wheel mode, we point at the screen and the car chases it around the track. Swinging the bat in the baseball game is a mere flick of the wrist. There is slightly more to it to flick a basketball at a moving hoop. It’s very dull.
Spreading propoganda to save rodents from Whac-a-mole and getting orange juice for the vagrant (actual missions in game, yes) is not my idea of fun at Six Flags.
They’re utterly simplistic and make my kids laugh for a while, but we all got very bored very quickly.
Fortunately, they realize they didn’t really end up with an extravagant experience out of it and sell the game for around $20. Even better than that is the inclusion of a free child’s ticket in the package which is valued at $30. So what they’re doing is giving you $10 to come to the park and experience the joys of the real thing rather than sitting on your couch.
As they say, any exposure is good exposure.