Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure – Review

The box art for Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure

It may not be at the top of everyone’s list of fun things to do, but going to Universal Studios ought to be at the very least, a memorable experience. Not everybody can have that experience though; that’d be mad expensive! Definitely more than it’d cost to pick up Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure for the GamCube, and I thought it was a very memorable game… for all the wrong reasons. Universal Studios theme Park Adventure is a dull premised game, with very poor gameplay and a lack of nearly any fun.

In Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure, you play as a nameless child who has been told by Woody Woodpecker to go and check out Universal Studios. There is an objective and an end to the game. To complete the game you must ride every ride and collect the letters that spell out Universal Studios. At the beginning there is only one ride that’s open: E.T. Adventure, and actually that’s the only ride that’s ever open. To ride any rides after you complete E.T. Adventure you must buy hats that allow unlimited access to the other rides, I would’ve liked to know that before exploring the whole park and wondering: “How do I ride these other rides?”

Once you figure that out it’s just a matter of getting enough points to buy hats, it’s not that hard, not that fun either. You earn points by completing rides, finding letters, picking up garbage around the park, as well as shaking hands with mascots. Garbage is very prevalent but it doesn’t add up. Running into the mascots happens pretty frequently and there’s no reason not to shake their hands. However getting around is a chore. You do get a map but it’s nigh impossible to make sense of it. I eventually remembered the layout from memory, but even then, I still spent too much time trying to get places.

The attractions are the meat of the game, and wow, they’re stinkers. E.T. Adventure is the first attraction, and the one that’s always open; it plays like a not fun version of Paperboy. In Jaws, you are on a boat he’s attacking; you throw barrels and crates at Jaws to prevent him from attacking. It controls terribly and the timing of button pushes doesn’t seem to fit the on-screen action. Animation Celebration is a collection of three minigames: a trivia game, a puzzle, and a game of concentration; Animation Celebration is not required to complete the game, coincidentally, it’s not fun either. Back to the Future – The Ride is a chase ride where Biff has stolen the DeLorean and you must ram it until its health is depleted, which is harder than it sounds. In Backdraft you play as a firefighter and must rescue survivors, while putting out fires in an apartment building, and I didn’t totally hate it. In Jurassic Park – The Ride you operate a laser on the back of the Jeep from the first movie, while being chased by an assortment of dinosaurs. You can charge it up or just fire away; this attraction wasn’t terrible either; it’s very reminiscent of the Sega arcade/Dreamcast game Charge ‘n’ Blast. Waterworld. Waterworld has you watching a cutscene. But wait! You can view this cutscene from five different angles. Yes, that’s right, five! It’s probably the worst looking piece of CG video you’ll ever see, and it’s pointless. Five seconds and nothing interesting happens. Lastly The Wild, Wild, Wild West is in the vein of old light-gun arcade games where you shoot at targets, here you just need to be faster than the CPU.

The majority of the attractions are straight-up, not fun, and the compliments I could muster for the others are they’re not one-hundred percent not fun. In a weird way though, I enjoyed Universal Studios Theme Park Adventure. I don’t think many people will ever play this game so the knowledge that I have about it makes it seem worth more than the knowledge I have about a game a lot of people have played. I have a soft spot for the game, I feel sorry for it. That said, it’s not a fun game and I wouldn’t recommend it.

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