If you want to build a theme park you normally have to acquire a lot more money than your average schmo or be firmly entrenched in the appropriate profession but back in 1994 Bullfrog and the publishing giant that is Electronic Arts changed all that with the ingeniously titled Theme Park. Peter Molyneux, he of Fable and making outrageous claims fame was one of the driving forces of the game having helped programme it.

As per his modus operandi the declarations surrounding the sixteen bit wonder outreached the technology available; microphones on visitors to hear what they were saying, a multi player mode and each patron having their own personality. While this was all well and good it was sadly undeliverable, a patented move from the English designer. This is not to say Theme Park was a non event, far from it. A wholesale success the game won many a plaudit and fan alike, while the inability to live up to the hype was a disappointment the finished affair was massive hit.

A pleasing mix of seriousness and tomfoolery the management sim could be played both ways, a power hungry grab for riches or a mischievous approach to running your amusement land, the choice was yours. Salt the fries to the maximum, place a drinks vendor close at hand with inflated prices then sit back and twiddle your moustache. This was a cunning plan and viable scheme but nothing to compare with the Machiavellian nature of laying a one way path that allowed visitors in but discouraged their exit, evil perhaps but money talks.

Aside from the layout you could hire; handymen, mechanics, entertainers and security guards. Though you got what you paid for and if the coin of the land was peanuts you got monkeys; laziness, bone idleness, shoddy repair jobs, or just plain refusal to do their duty but then you could hire more… Decisions, decisions.

Questions however must be asked of the games attitude towards the rides. Questions like; why did the Tree House always break down and why did plumes of smoke issue forth? Why was the Ghost House so popular? And was the Monorail stopping at Ogdenville? The bright and breezy graphics captivated audiences worldwide, making light of these anomalies and rising smiles everywhere.

Bus loads of tourists have come and gone since the games original release but the charming nature of this little slice of micromanagement has captured hearts for years.

And that music…


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