Thrillville: Off the Rails - WII - Preview

E3 2007 Preview

Last year's roller coaster thrill-ride from LucasArts, Thrillville, proved to be a success with the younger generation of gamers. By the time its sequel is released, these gamers will be a little older, a little wiser, and have a stronger craving for more outrageous content. Thus, the Thrillville series must grow up as well, leading to the creation of Off The Rails, a game that takes its subtitle literally. Rather than stay locked onto the safety of a roller coaster track, players (and riders) will now be thrown from one end of a ride, through the air and hanging freely, to another branch of the coaster. It's like an extreme racing game that the rider has no control over. All he or she can do is hold on tight and hope the ride's engineers hit the bull's eye in their development. Otherwise...splat!

Actually, that's what you'll think is going to happen, and that is the whole point. Should a player be willing to take a risk and build an unstable coaster, two things will occur: (1) You'll be warned that the coaster isn't safe, and (2) if allowed to be in your theme park, and if anyone is daring enough to jump inside, all riders will be safely ejected from their seats before the coaster crashes and explodes. Look up at the sky by pointing the analog stick up and you'll be able to view the passengers parachuting to the ground.

The graphics have been upgraded over last year's edition, but that's minor news compared to the gameplay advancements. The off-the-rails coasters go beyond ramp-jumping and move into adjustable track territory. For example, if you go high up and lay a flat, vertical piece of track, the player has a couple of ways to finish it. He or she can either attach other track pieces to it for a ride that's safe, or add a wobbly piece that'll cause the track to move back 90 degrees, send the car flying into the air, and will come slamming down on the track from a 90-degree angle.

In a word, AHHHHHHH!

The best part is how many different view points are being employed. Players can watch from a multitude of third-person, near and away from the coaster views. If you want real excitement, strap onto the first-person view for a surreal, in-your-face look at what the coaster's virtual passengers see as they soar across your handcrafted track.

For most console editions, coasters will be created using buttons and the analog stick. However, I was able to get a look at the Wii version, which allows you to change the coaster's formation by tilting the remote. This was the only portion of the game I was able to test out, and I am happy to report that it worked very well. Wii owners will love how intuitively their controllers are used. The remote handles the overall shape and direction, while the nunchuck adjusts the curvature on the coaster's end.

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