Park III: Park Builder
By: Chris Lee
It's no secret
around VGF that I'm a strategy/sim nut. I've played almost all of
those games on just about any platform since I was knee high to
a...uh...well just imagine some small country creature you've heard
somewhere and insert that into the blank. Being somewhat well versed
in the genre it's always a tossup as to how you'll see a game when
you begin playing it. While PB has some great concepts and some
decent execution, there are a few areas that keep it from reaching
the heights it could have achieved.
The first thing
I MUST mention is that the game has no tutorial/in-game instruction
i.e. something to tell you what the heck to do when you first start!
Essentially you flip the game on, watch the intro, start a park and
WHAM! There you are. Sitting. Waiting. Waiting for someone,
something to give you some direction. Whether it be the Happy park
professor, Jim the dinosaur hunter or Charlie the T-Rex...I was
waiting. It turns out that they expect you to know what to do from
the get-go and honestly it's a shame for many reasons. Biggest of
all, the game has a lot to it in the way of micromanagement and
getting off to a good start can be essential. And by not having any
idea of what to do you'll lose a lot of valuable time and your first
park will probably be a bust. However if you carefully read over the
manual a few times you'll see a few basics like how certain
structures work and what they do but it's really not enough. With
enough time and effort you can get past it, but it's a little
daunting at first. That said, let's move on to the good stuff.
Park Builder is
of course, a Dinosaur Park building sim. You're the new proprietor
of an "amusement" park and being that it's more than
likely your main source of income you'll want it to be successful.
As I said, there's quite a lot to do in the game and it's pretty
confusing at first. You'll want to build roads that lead into your
park obviously but you'll also want to plan when and where to place
structures. You'll want to set things up such that it's convenient
and easy for your customers to get around and see the sites. You've
got landscaping to worry about. Do you want this tree there? Will
everyone be able to get from their hotel to the restaurant easily?
And are the Dinosaur cages far enough from the hotels? All those
things and more are always on your mind while you're building. You
see, the main purpose of the park is to keep customers happy so that
they'll keep spending money and you'll get more patrons. More
patrons mean more people spending their hard earned cash which in
turn means more money for you to keep the park up and add
Speaking of up
keep, there's a LOT of micromanagement to be done. One of the first
things you'll want to do is send out teams of scientists to uncover
DNA. DNA, in the game, allows you to produce dinosaurs. There are
over 140 types of DNA you can uncover on your digs. And of course
the more outlandish and rare the type of DNA, the more the patrons
will like it. So you've got to grow the little guys, keep them fed
and healthy. You have to build pens around the park and make it easy
for everyone to see them. All of this ties into the economy of the
park, over which you have full control. Ticket prices, restaurant
prices, concession stands, hotel prices...just money money money.
And you control it all. Even the advertisements and commercials, you
get to decide how much to spend on them and what target audience
you're going for. Once your park gets rolling it can get somewhat
hectic trying to keep an eye on everything but Konami implemented a
nice pop up system of warnings and alerts so that you're always in
the know when problems arise. Very good stuff all around in the
game is as sharp as any of the other GBA titles on the market. As a
Park sim on a handheld it's actually pretty impressive in some
areas. I DO wish that the patrons would actually interact
graphically with the buildings, as it is, they sort of walk by and
their status (happy, sad, annoyed etc.) changes as a result.
Fortunately it's easy enough to keep an eye on the general mood in
your park via menus as well as the status bubbles that are present
over the patrons heads. But in some areas I wish there was more
going on graphically, it's not terrible, just simplistic. The
dinosaurs in their pens also have nice variety in the looks
department. The interface of the game is also well done, it's user
friendly and makes it less a chore to navigate the menus than in
some games. It's kinda neat also being able to trade DNA back and
forth between you and a friend. You're not going to find them all
yourself for quite a while so it's really cool that you can link
GBA's up and trade. The sounds are also very minimal, to the point
that they're almost not an issue one way or the other. But it's
always nice to have sound isn't it boys and girls?
- Lots to
manage in an entertaining way.
- No turtorial,
- Not a lot of
graphical interaction between patrons and structures.
not for everyone.
I'd have to say
Park Builder can be an entertaining game...eventually. It's VERY
annoying and frustrating without some sort of initial instruction. I
really had to drop the game a point or so simply because of that.
You'll waste a lot of time and money trying to figure out how to
make everything connect and work the way it should. If you can get
past that and you enjoy these types of games you'll have some fun.
Good job Konami but next time T-U-T-O-R-I-A-L please. *smile*