Parents' Choice Foundation: Reviewing Children's Media Since 1978

My Amusement Park

My Amusement Park

Spring 2011 Video Games
Ages: 5 - 8 yrs.
Publisher: Scholastic Media
Price: $19.99
Gaming System: Nintendo DS

Building amusement parks from scratch has been a focus of videogames for years now. This simplified DS version of amusement park construction gaming isn't nearly as taxing as some of the more complicated console and PC amusement-park games. Unlike genre classics Sim Theme Park and Roller Coaster Tycoon, this younger-kid version isn't about the business of making profits or customer ratings. It does, however, put younger players to work making some creative decisions.

Players choose the "looks" of their would-be theme park-mountains, safari, desert or tropical. Then, they choose special attractions and rides they want to build-from the Pirate Ship and Super Coaster rides to bumper cars and ice cream stands.

We started with the Haunted House, the construction of which, like all of the attractions, requires reassembling parts from memory before completing it on the park property. Players beef up their bank account to build more attractions by playing eight logic and puzzle games, each with three difficulty levels. While the games are pretty simple, some of them are especially engaging.

We liked the weeds game in which you quick-click on certain weeds as they emerge on your park property while avoiding "pulling" emerging flowers. The parking lot game was fun, too-a total take-off of the mind-bending, strategy board game Rush Hour in which you unblock vehicles that obstruct a car from exiting the lot. There's also the ride repair game in which players re-fit broken parts in their rides.

By the end of each virtual day, the game totals your dollars earned from playing games. More dollars means more attractions are available to build. This game's a fun little venture-like the kiddy roller coaster at real-life theme parks that introduces younger kids to the thrill without scaring them away.

Don Oldenburg   ©2011 Parents' Choice
A former feature writer and consumer columnist at The Washington Post for 22 years, Don Oldenburg is the Director of Publications and Editor of the National Italian American Foundation, in Washington, D.C. He regularly reviews books for USA Today and is the coauthor of "The Washington DC-Baltimore Dog Lovers Companion" (Avalon Travel). The proud father of three sons, he lives with his journalist-author wife, Ann Oldenburg, in McLean, VA.

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Scholastic Media
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