Adventure Park is a lousy attempt at capturing the magic of games like Theme Park and Rollercoaster Tycoon. In those classics, players could build their own amusement park and adjust it to their liking. They could use deep but accessible tools to construct custom roller coasters that felt unique, all with a jubilant atmosphere that captured the fun of a day out at a theme park. Adventure Park contains all of those elements, but their implementation is so limited – and the execution so shoddy – that it sucks all the fun out of what could have been a decent tycoon game.
There’s a progression that tasks you with making a few successful parks under certain financial constraints, but you can choose to sidestep that in favour of a full-on sandbox mode that lets you unlock all the rides and add funds as needed. Even in that fully unlocked experience, Adventure Park feels threadbare. There are very few types of rides, concession stands and decorations to use in your park, and only a few of those have broad utility. Most items are so heavily skewed toward specific themes – spooky, pirates, space – that you either have to place them in obvious, unimaginative groupings or have a really dumb and scattered looking park. If you play under its unaltered economy and start from the lowest park level, there’s practically nothing to build from the outset.
Raising funds to unlock new attractions or build custom coasters can take forever. It doesn’t really matter; regardless of how you rack up the money for a custom coaster, the process of building it is benign. The visual of your track being constructed twitches violently as you move your mouse, and there’s no way to inject any of your creativity into a custom creation. Regardless of how you sculpt it, cars on the track seem to scoot along at a uniform pace, largely oblivious to the gravitational flow of your design. You can’t pull any neat tricks with track chains or other outside-the-box implements that keep designers busy in Rollercoaster Tycoon to this day. You can’t really do anything.
The feel of the game is completely unrealized too, the aged visuals imparting little of the excitement of an amusement park. Textures are uniformly dated and smudged. Trees and other background elements have horrendously ugly pop-in that often occurs right in the middle of your view. Park guests are nightmarish, wooden mimics of Sims. And all at a shockingly poor level of performance. My computer can run Battlefield 4, but it was no match for the muddy vistas of Adventure Park. Having the FPS hover around 10 or 15 was not unusual. The audio doesn’t step it up much more, with low quality samples abound along with a general lack of ambiance.
The sandbox mode is the only thing that keeps Adventure Park from being total hot garbage. Unfortunately, cheating the economy doesn’t make the broken mechanics, lack of content or dismal performance any less rotten. If you’re in the market for a game like this, you’re best off sticking with the classics.