Coming from Frontier games, the developer responsible for RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, Thrillville - Off the Rails takes the formula established by their successful rollercoaster management simulation and adds mini-games and a sandbox style of play more commonly associated with Rockstar’s Grand Theft Auto series.
You start off by creating a custom avatar from a variety of preloaded skins and selecting your first park. Once inside you begin the tutorial missions, which walk you through the basics of park management. This park comes complete with several rides, stands and a rollercoaster which you can play with from the start. However, this theme park is broken down and quickly going bankrupt. Your mission is simple: build new rides and attractions to satisfy your customers – and avoid lawsuits.
What may appear to be a nice, wholesome, Wii title on the surface – it’s even rated G - has elements of criminal behaviour spread throughout. Take the easily corrupted critics for instance; say your park is getting a bad review, not a problem. Just a quick chat with the critic and a friendly bribe later, no matter how crap your park is he will give it an excellent review, even going so far as to bad mouth the opposition.
Building your park up is easy thanks largely to the intuitive control scheme. By twisting the Wii Remote around you can direct the track layout and push A to build. If you get stuck or the track becomes too complex you can push the C button and the game will attempt to complete the track for you. Failing that, it will point you in the right direction. This tool is almost essential as the camera has no free roaming mode for the coaster builder, making it too hard to see the start of the more complex roller coasters. There is, however, an abundance of pre-built roller coasters to buy, so unless the mission goal requires you to create a coaster there is little point.
When it comes to other attractions such as sideshows and arcades in Trillville - Off the Rails, everything you do involves playing a mini-game. From training staff to collecting malicious fliers a rival park manager has dropped – even training a café worker will have you play a Bust-A-Move clone.
These mini-games range from disappointing to addictive; some use the Wii remote better than others and some look worse in play than from outside. Some, such as the beat-‘em-up Bandito Chinchilla, seem tacked on and doesn’t work well as you jump with one hand and attack with the other. Even using the Wii remote on its side still has an awkward layout – a good case of wanting the classic controller as an option. Unfortunately, it isn’t supported.
Other games, however, such as the cheerleader training, use the Wii remote well in the rhythm action mini-games. Training the cheerleader does dabble in a bit of morally-questionable voyeurism though, as in said mini-game you guide the cheerleader’s actions by wacking the controllers like drum sticks to the beat of a pop song as you watch the cheerleaders - who look like they have been the victim of a Russell Crowe phone attack - dance around.
Trillville - Off the Rails is more than the sum of its parts, however. It takes the theme park building and injects it with mini-games that enable a more hands on approach to building and maintaining your park, rather than just moving the mouse and clicking a bit of dirt. In Thrillville - Off the Rails you get your hands dirtied like never before. At the end of this wild ride, it’s basically another RollerCoaster Tycoon, with a bunch of mini-games added.