Review by Ecchifan

Reviewed: 09/29/04

A Great Feel Good Story Trapped in a Lousy Game Format

In Amusement Park, an interactive dvd game created by Custom Software and distributed by Hirameki International Group, Inc., you are Ryoya, a recent college graduate. When your father passed away, you agreed to take over the failing family business, an amusement park called "Fantasy Garden." Now, after six months of renovation, your park is back in business. Who will you depend on to help your business get out of debt and back into profitability?

The biggest concern with this game is the dvd format. Rather than installing and playing the game on a computer, you're basically required to play it using a dvd player. This dvd game is not compatible with my older Playstation 2 system, and Hirameki International Group, Inc. has acknowledged that the product may not run on computers with dvd-roms. The distributor's decision to release this game in dvd format, rather than in PC format, is puzzling in light of these compatibility issues. And undoubtedly sales were lost due to this issue. I personally delayed the purchase of this product until I got a dvd player. If I were to take a guess on why the distributor chose to use a dvd format for this release, my guess would be to prevent piracy of the game. It is an unfortunate fact that a lot of players illegally download these types of games, or obtain pirated copies at a small fraction of the retail price, rather than purchase a legitimate copy of the game.

A related issue is gameplay, or how the game is played out on a dvd player. Because the game is played on a dvd player, rather than on a computer, you cannot save at all. The game gets around this issue by providing you with two-digits passwords at critical decision points during the game. Let's say you reach a juncture where two choices are provided along with the numerical password. You make a choice and continue on with the game. When you finally reach the ending for that path, you can go to "Continue" on the Title Menu and type in the numerical password to replay the game from that decision point. This save system is a far cry from the convenience of the save-at-any-point-in-the-game option you're provided with in a G-Collections.com or a Peach Princess PC game.

Furthermore, there are no other options available to you. For example, you cannot turn off the background music or the voice acting; you can only tune out the music by turning the volume down. You cannot make the text appear faster or slower. You cannot skim through previously read messages. You could allow the text messages to proceed on its own (and at its own pre-programmed pace), or keep hitting "Next" on your dvd player remote to make the text proceed faster.

Notwithstanding the game format and gameplay issues, Amusement Park offers a vibrant, feel good story about a young man trying to restore his family legacy. The park meant everything to your father and grandfather, and you have a responsibility to keep it afloat. Helping you shoulder that heavy burden are five girls who work there, and have feelings for you.

Graphically, the girls are beautifully drawn and offer a variety of facial expressions to reflect their emotions during the game. Indeed, the graphics are simply outstanding in comparison with other bishojo games on the market. In addition, the clothes that the girls wear, in particular the Fantasy Garden uniforms, are nicely designed. The background music is fun and light hearted. Each girl has her own theme sound, which the game runs whenever the girl makes an appearance. The voice acting in this game are truly excellent; the voice casting of most characters, with the one notable exception of Fuka, is appropriate. However, the timing of the English subtitled text messages, which are supposed to appear when a voice actress speaks, are badly off. Frequently, the voice actress hasn't finished speaking, but the text has already gone ahead to the next message.

Unfortunately, it appears that the Amusement Park is heavily censored. The most risque pics you'll see are the occasional panty shots, and also the girls in bathing suits. There is absolutely no sex scene in the game. Based on these observations, it's puzzling to see an ESRB game rating of "M - Mature 17+" for this product. Amusement Park does not qualify for this M rating based on mature sexual themes since there is none; the scenes are merely suggestive. Nor is there any violence to speak of in this game, unlike say my recent review of G-Collections.com's Virgin Roster. A more appropriate ESRB rating for this product would be a "T - Teen." Anyone buying this product thinking that it contains lots of sex scenes will be sorely disappointed.

Replay value is mediocre because there is only one ending with each girl, and a general bad ending. Without any options other than continuing from a password save point, you have practically no incentive to replay the game, or even keep it in your collection, once you have gone through all the available endings.

All in all, Hirameki International Group, Inc. needs to go back to the drawing board. The decision to use a dvd format seriously impaired my enjoyment of this otherwise good game. In addition, the decision to censor out the sexual contents when this product is obviously geared toward the 18-34 years old male consumer is a poor one. The M rating is misleading in light of the lack of sexual content.

Storyline: 10/10
Music:9/10
Graphics:9/10
Gameplay:2/10
Replayability:5/10

Overall:7/10

Rating: 7

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