The main aim of Theme Park is simple. Start out with a modest wad of cash, build, maintain and constantly seek to improve a Theme Park and squeeze every last penny of profitability out of it. To do this efficiently and effectively, you must learn and master the mechanics and disciplines of the game, but even before you do this you must first build your park. This is deceptively simple to do. Imagine cutting and pasting brushes and creating a collage in Deluxe Paint IV. That’s basically what it’s like. Only simpler and faster.
After initially mucking about and placing things willy nilly, the game forces you to think in terms of design. The aim of this is to make the most efficient use of space to maximise the number of rides, shops and amenities that constitute a profitable Theme Park. This is easier said than done. Only after many plays does visualisation of space-efficient designs begin to take place in your mind’s eye. By this time, you’ll have interacted with the little computer people who visit the park. There’s a lot more to these small folk than meets the cartoon graphic eye. Each one has sophisticated artificial intelligence algorithms programmed into their metaphorical little brains.
Apart from the initial sum of money you get at the start of the game, these people are your only source of income and need cultivation as a profitable resource. Each of them has their own traits and preferences, and acquainting yourself with their peccadilloes makes sense. The poorer your strategies and management skills, the quicker you fail – just like real life business ventures. But this time, bankruptcy means that you can start afresh without the worry of the bailiffs coming round to haunt you. The way that the four core marketing concepts of product, price, place and promotion meld together to form such an entertaining whole is amazing. Marketing is as boring a subject as economics, yet Theme Parkbuilds on these rudiments in a way that induces worryingly compulsive behaviour.