The game commences...

Themepark Mystery logo

DO YOU know what lectryomancy is? No neither did I until I played Theme Park Mystery. Even when I did know what lectryomancy, gyromancy and empyromancy meant, thanks to the Theme Park booklet, I was no wiser as to playing the actual game. I quote: "The game instructions have deliberately been kept to a minimum to force you, the user, to experiment".

What this invariably means is that if you were given enough instructions to know what the hell you were doing then it wouldn't take long to complete the game.

Theme Park Mystery falls neatly into this trap, because in each of its carefully prepared segments, Future World, Dragon World, Dream World, and the starting location of Yesterday Land there is a measure of complication that arises from not knowing what any of the various objects therein actually do.

Rather like an adventure game, the object is to repeatedly try to do different things with the same item until a use can be found.

In Theme Park this somewhat repetitive task is made all the more tedious by the fact that there are plenty of red herrings, and that you need one of these objects (found in Dragon Land) to gain entrance to Dream Land. Thus you end up playing and playing again in the platforms and ladders world of Dragon Land.

Before you even get that far you have to solve a small puzzle involving one of the three machines in Yesterday Land. This achieved an image of Zoltan forms in a crystal ball, and hands out the boarding pass for the pan-dimensional monorail. Yup, step right aboard for a trip, and what a trip it will be.

Until you can acquire the sleeping potion required for access to Dream Land (whoops that's given the game away) you can only visit Dragon Land, which is a distinctly mediocre platforms and ladders game.

Unfortunately you'll be spending quite a lot of time here until you work out how to acquire the artifacts that allow access to the chessboard-like Dream Land, and the killing zone of Future Land. I'd like to say that Theme Park Mystery actually resembles a theme park, but it doesn't, so I can't.

There is quite a lot of depth to the game with regards to things you need to do and collect, so you will be at it for some time, but the telling point is that you'll be doing this acquiring over the same terrain, facing the same obstacles again and again.

The graphics for Theme Park are indeed a mystery, a mystery why they are so gob-smackingly mediocre that is. The sound effects are equally routine and for a mystery in a theme park the game really does lack graphical imagination.

It also bears a resemblance to Weird Dreams in concept, and though that game left an awful lot to be desired it did at least look different, unusual and interesting.

Theme Park Mystery is a reasonable and playable game, once you know what you are doing. If you start off with only the information available in the manual then I can predict plenty of teeth gnashing and hair pulling in store.

If you really want to play this game, which lacks the class to haul it out of the realm of mediocrity, then I'd say wait until some magazine published copious hints and maps.