Theme Park Mystery. (computer game) (evaluation)
by Alfred C. Giovetti
Your uncle, former owner of Magic Canyon Theme Park, died insane. What provoked his suicide? You face this mystery when you pass through the front gates of the deserted park. Perhaps you'll fare better than your poor uncle.
Three arcade games in one, Theme Park Mystery requires you to capture eight gremlins in the park that have caused all the problems.
Yesterdayland provides the only entrance to the park and the monorail of fear, and it houses three coin/token machines: a Zoltan machine, a bagatelle machine, and a grabber full of marching soldiers. The bagatelle machine allows you to win tokens to use on the other machines. You capture a gremlin from the grabber. For tokens, Zoltan trades clues, tickets for the monorail, and extra lives.
Dragonland features you as a barbarian in loincloth. Enter bizarre Dreamland by finding the sleeping potion in Dragonland. Dreamland presents you with an overhead view of a chessboard inhabited by boxes, birdseed, keys, demons, eyeballs, snowmen, sand, piglets, putty, and so on. Reveal boxes by moving into the spaces with chess pieces. You open boxes with keys that you get from birds. You trade birdseed to the birds for keys, and the birdseed comes from gold insects. You get the idea--you'll do a lot of bartering on this level. After collecting the two gremlins, you move on.
You'll find the monorail ticket to Futureland in Dreamland. A pure and simple shoot'em-up, Futureland has you engaging alien spaceships; spaceship debris may be used to restore your shields. In this world, the gremlins hide inside blue balls, which you'll also collect.
Plan carefully for the capture of the gremlins, or you won't complete the game. The way that all three arcade games and Yesterdayland interact creates a unique strategic situation; it's beatable but resistant to immediate solution. The hallmark of a successful adventure is its ability to entertain players as they work toward task completion, and Theme Park Mystery throws plenty of curiosities in your path to hold your interest throughout your travels. With first-rate animation and appropriate colors, the action should make arcade addicts take note. For those who love good puzzles, Theme Park Mystery offers more than enough weird ones. Fun, yes, and sometimes even a little creepy. The interface supports either the keyboard or a combination joystick-and-mouse interface has one active while the other is inactive. In the beginning sequence the joystick is active and can be used for movement while the mouse is inactive. When you step in front of a coin-op machine, the machine screen replaces the Yesterdayland screen, the mouse becomes active, and the joystick becomes inactive. Obviously, the interface has tremendous potential to confuse.
Theme Park Mystery otherwise suffers only from having no save-game feature, requiring you to complete the game in one sitting. Replay of already completed sequences bores most gamers, but it shouldn't prevent you from playing. I wonder, though, why you shouldn't be able to save a position in Dreamland, for instance, and avoid another harrowing trip through Dragonland.
Combining three complete arcade games into an arcade adventure, Theme Park Mystery's a bit quirky, but delightful. And as further incentive to buy, each game comes with a color poster of Zoltan and a chance to win back the purchase price of Theme Park Mystery. If you can live without a savegame option and you like your action a bit on the sinister side with some puzzles thrown in, then Theme Park Mystery's truly worth the price of admission.