If there’s someone out there who hasn’t been to either Walt Disney World/Land or Universal Studios, I don’t know what your problem is. Maybe you just can’t afford it, or maybe you’re some kind of anti-happiness weirdo, or maybe you’re one of those assholes who are like “I’m not into that kid’s stuff, I like things that are way more mature, such as alcohol and boobies!”. If you fit into one of those categories (well, I guess the first one can be exempt; I doubt it’s your fault that you’d rather have food than visit The Happiest Place on Earth), please stop reading now and skip ahead to “Geoff Wastes a Minute of Your Time“, because nothing I’m writing about here will interest you. Indeed, Versus Mode this month pits together two games out to accomplish a common goal — bring the fun of a theme park home to video game consoles. Which game accomplishes this better? Or, wait, do either of them accomplish it at all? Find out in the forthcoming text, as we hold the:
BATTLE OF THE THEME PARK VIDEO GAMES THAT AREN’T ACTUALLY PART OF THE “THEME PARK” SERIES, BUT ARE IN FACT BASED ON ACTUAL THEME PARKS
Adventures in the Magic Kingdom (NES): Now, this game has already been reviewed in GameCola (it received a 3.8, despite almost being fun ), but it’s been a while since then, so allow me to refresh your memory. Adventures in the Magic Kingdom involves a boy in a large cowboy hat who has to find various keys scattered about the Magic Kingdom, in order to to obtain another key, in order to start up The Parade. Most of these keys can be obtained by completing Disney Land-themed levels, such as the Pirates of the Caribbean level, in which you beat up buccaneers and rescue wenches, and the Space Mountain level, in which you fly around in a rocketship and try to reach an alien planet. There’s also a key you can retrieve by answering dated Disney trivia that only your parents would know the answers to. This game really didn’t cut it for me inasmuch as “recreating the Disney Land experience” is concerned, because the only thing that’s remotely reminiscent of the Magic Kingdom is the ugly overworld; the levels, while Disney World-related, stray too far from the concept of the ride to really make you feel like you’re in Orlando.
Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure (GCN): Right away you know something is off with this title, because your in-game guide is Woody Woodpecker, in what is probably his first public appearance since the last Roosevelt administration. It doesn’t take too long for you to notice why, either, because his screeching voice will have you plugging away at the A-button to make him go away faster than you ever would for a Mario Party minigame. Thankfully, Universal Studios does a much better job of recreating the park itself than does Magic Kingdom. I don’t feel this is entirely due to more advanced technology, because Magic Kingdom could have done a lot more with the eight bits they were given. You walk around in a 3D representation of Universal Studious (the California version, I believe), playing games that are, once again, based on the theme park’s rides, but not actually in the theme park’s rides. For example, you don’t actually get to ride the Back to the Future ride in this game — instead, you race Biff Tannen through various epochs in your Delorean. Whether or not this is better is anyone’s guess. You also spend a lot of time in the overworld picking up litter, for reasons I never quite discovered. And you also have to purchase various hats in order to ride certain rides, which is unlike Magic Kingdom, where you can play any level whenever you want
Neither of these games really have what I’m looking for in a famous-theme-park-based video game. I want to actually ride the rides, not play levels based on them. I want the experience re-created, not remixed. However, if I had to pick one of these games to be better (which I do, obviously), I’d go with universal Studios Theme Park Adventure, due to more level variety, and trivia questions that are at least from this decade, even if they aren’t about movie’s I’ve ever heard of. Magic Kingdom is not without its merits, though — it probably features the best game yet to hold the title of “Pirates of the Caribbean”, for example. But in all honesty, neither of these games are really worth your money, and you’re better off getting Rollercoaster Tycoon or some other sim that lets you build your own theme park, instead of playing weird minigames in someone’s interpretation of theme parks that already exist.
Winner: Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure (GCN)