Dream Builder: Amusement Park
A large selection of rides and attractions.
"Zones" that increase your profit.
No way to rotate the view.
The many objectives leave little room for creativity.
It takes a long time to regain "hearts."
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When I was a teenager, one of my favorite games was Roller Coaster Tycoon, a game where you could create your own theme park and take on the challenges of managing it. Simple to learn and complex to master, Roller Coaster Tycoon (along with its add-ons and sequels) was an instant hit and I spent many hours with my virtual parks. It's probably unfair to compare a large-budget game with a small indie one, but Dream Builder: Amusement Park uses the same concept as Roller Coaster Tycoon, minus a whole bunch of the features that made it such a great game, and since it's such a classic and well-known game, comparison is pretty inevitable.
You can guess the premise of Dream Builder: Amusement Park - you're given the task of building and maintaining your own theme park. You have various rides, attractions, concessions, and other stuff at your disposal, and you can unlock more choices through research. Throughout the game you will be given many different challenges to complete, such as "Have one Ferris wheel with Great appeal in your park" or "Have three restaurants with Amazing appeal in your park" or "Market to six different groups of people."
Appeal is an important factor in this game. Sometimes the challenges will require your rides to have a certain appeal level, and other times your park just needs high appeal in order to regain "hearts" which are needed for most construction projects. You raise rides' appeal by placing decorations such as flowers and statues near them, but unfortunately, sometimes you might be more concerned with raising appeal than with being creative, which can result in a haphazard appearance. More importantly, even when all your rides have a high appeal, sometimes it will take a long time to regenerate enough hearts to build something, and nothing's more frustrating than just staring at the screen and waiting until you can do something.
One of the game's more creative features is its assortment of "zones." "Zones" are groups of three rides or attractions that share something in common when placed close together, and everything built in the zone gets a profit boost. You can use research for the game to tell you what goes in a certain zone, or you can choose to experiment and try to figure it out yourself. Some of them like the "Snack Zone" and the "Dark Zone" should be pretty easy to guess, but others like the "Early Bird Zone" or the "Vista Zone" might be more difficult. Remember, anything might be part of a zone, even bathrooms.
The graphics are bright and colorful and combined with happy carnival music to make for a cheery atmosphere. However, as your park grows, there will inevitably be spots where you have difficulty seeing through everything, which can make alining footpaths to new rides almost impossible. There is no option to rotate the view or make the rides invisible, which makes construction frustrating at times. More than once when I built a new ride the game would tell me it wasn't connected to the footpaths even though the paths appeared to be connected perfectly.
If you've played Roller Coaster Tycoon, you'll definitely get the feeling that this game was inspired by it. While Dream Builder: Amusment Park definitely can't hold its own against that great theme park building game of old, if you just see it as a fun little game with its own charm, you'll have a good time. However, if you enjoy this game you should definitely seek out a copy of Roller Coaster Tycoon as well.
Rating: 3 and a half out of 5 stars.