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Prehistoric Fun Park


For: Mobile

God creates dinosaurs. Man creates money-spinning business empire...

Product: Prehistoric Fun Park | Developer: Gear Games | Publisher: THQ Wireless | Format: Mobile | Genre: Simulation, Strategy | Players: 1 | Format: J2ME | File size: 198KB | Reviewed on: K750i other handsets | Version: Europe
 
Prehistoric Fun Park Mobile, thumbnail 1
As anyone who ever watched The Flintstones will attest, dinosaurs are remarkably useful beasts of burden. For example, with the addition of a shoulder-mounted cabin and harness, a perfectly normal sauropod becomes the stone age equivalent of a JCB digger.

Such versatility hasn't escaped the developer of Prehistoric Fun Park, which features an abundance of dino-powered rides and attractions. Though, thankfully, it's chosen not to include a fat, bumbling caveman with a tendency to yodel during moments of pleasure.

If you've ever played Theme Park, the concept will be immediately familiar. You're given a large plot of land to fill with a wide selection of dinosaur-themed rides, shops and attractions. The aim is to keep a steadily increasing number of caveman, woman and child customers happy, fleecing them of all their hard-earned discs of rock in the process.

Things get off to an excellent start with a good selection of game modes available. Campaign is perhaps the best place to initially focus on as it gradually introduces new gameplay elements throughout each new level. The first park you build in this mode is the tutorial, which gives you access to only a handful of the cheaper rides and a small selection of sideshows and utilities. This works well, though by the end of the second level you'll most likely grow tired of the limitations.

These restrictions also serve to teach you the (admittedly basic) economics of running a dinosaur flavoured business, though it's difficult to go wrong unless you drastically overspend, pushing yourself so far into debt that you can't recover in time. Oh yes, just like in the real world, you can spend money you don't have all too easily – it's simply a case of buying an attraction that you can't afford. When this happens, you'll be informed that you have a few months to get out of the red, or it's game over.

If you find Campaign a little slow, there are two custom modes that enable you to get straight into the action. Free Play lets you build away to your heart's content, unrestricted by anything other than finances. Meanwhile, Competition mode is a little more interesting, challenging you to maintain a three-year run as owner of the best park in the land.

A key feature of any resource management game is the interface, and Prehistoric Fun Park scores highly here with a simple, intuitive method of control. A quick tap of the build key pulls up a radial menu with bold icons depicting each sub-menu. As well as various paths, improvements, flora and fauna, you also find the statistics screen here – essential if you're playing in Competition mode and want to check on your competitors.

Creating your park is equally self-explanatory. Select the building you want, move it to the desired location, choose which way you want it to face and press the build key. Once your ride or shop is in place, you'll want to connect it to the rest of your attractions with a carefully laid path. The whole process is so instinctive that a Neanderthal could probably get by, assuming he could get his hairy mitts on a mobile phone.

Making things a little awkward are those previously mentioned dinosaur-powered rides. Many of the more complicated rides are driven by simple caveman engineering – wooden cogs and pulleys connected by jungle vines. In order to power such systems, you must connect them to 'Dinomotors'. These brilliant devices are essentially a giant wheel, atop which stands a dinosaur that is tethered to the central column and ridden by a dino-snack-on-a-stick-wielding caveman.

The secret to success is in balancing a good selection of rides and shops whilst making sure there are plenty of public conveniences, benches and attractive decorations scattered around your park. Meet all of the demands of your punters and you'll soon see the money flowing into your account. Get it right and you can take a step back to admire your creation, safe in the knowledge that your work is done.

And it's there that Prehistoric Fun Park starts to lose its grip on you. Despite all the different modes of play, or the fact that each of them comes with an easy or hard mode, there simply isn't enough to keep you going once you've mastered all the basics. Indeed, everything is a little too basic, with no significant challenge beyond managing your income in the early game.

Perhaps the only other real weak point is the sound, limited to a playground theme tune which quickly becomes irritating. And each time you plonk down a new ride in your park it's accompanied by a rather pleasing earthquake effect on the screen, but not an equally violent crunching soundbite the occasion is almost crying out for.

The total lack of sound effects is somewhat offset by the excellent graphics, however. These are more than serviceable, though there's a noticeable drabness due to a limited palette. This might be a theme park centered around cavemen and dinosaurs, but surely there's room for more than multiple shades of green, brown, grey and yellow with the occasional spattering of red and blue.

When it comes to the crunch, Prehistoric Fun Park is an excellent take on the Theme Park, er, theme, that just doesn't have enough to keep you entertained beyond your first play through.

On the other hand, that first game could well keep you playing for several days, assuming you're attempting the Campaign on hard mode. If you're among those who never tried Theme Park or any of its successors then this is certainly worth a look. Otherwise, much like a re-run of The Flintstones, there's nothing here we haven't seen before.
 
Prehistoric Fun Park
Reviewer photo
Wayne Turton | 4 October 2007
Jurassic Park meets Theme Park in an isometric build-'em-up that doesn't quite have what it takes to survive gaming extinction
 
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