So a while back I had my first introduction to the world of Fremium gaming, with EA’s Theme-Park for iOS and android.

Here’s how it works: you buy rides and shops, which periodically generate either game money or experience points. Pathways are all already in place, and the park is divided into sections that can be themed (western, fururistic etc) Most of the time the only maintenance you need to do is clean up puke. Actually, you do a lot of puke-cleaning. Rides can be manually worked (wave your finger around the screen) to make them churn out experience faster but may break in the process

Initially you only have crappy rides available. New ones become available as you gain level, but progress is slow and your income to pay for them is meagre anyway. Which of course is where the Fremium bit comes in – pay real money for tokens that let you put down superior rides right away. Some rides, if I recall right, are *only* available for real money.

Some of these rides can easily set you back $5 a shot. And remember, a park needs many rides. Amongst the the most expensive, you could spend like $60!! Of course you don’t *have* to fork out cash, but the game is painfully tedious otherwise, waiting for your few meagre rides to churn out game-money and cleaning up yet more puke in the interim. I can easily see impatient kids ringing up bills for their parents here.

Except, even if you do spend real money it’s still probably goddamn tedious because all you do is plonk stuff down, occasionally click it, and clean up puke. That’s it, the pretty much the sum total of gameplay on offer. The game is only briefly addictive in the most mindless sense of, it’s been half an hour and you want to push buttons to hear reward noises and see some numbers go up. It’s an awful, soulless, cash grabbing automaton of a game, cynically dressed in the clothes of a beloved early-90s classic.

The only reason I ended up playing was because my GF enjoyed Theme Park as a kid, and this seemed like the easiest way to revisit it given that she’s not enough of a nerd to go faffing around with dosbox. Since then have added the original to their selection, as usual all wrapped up a user-friendly installer, so I might just buy her that instead.

Anyway, I was inspired to post this when I saw that another former Bullfrog title,  Dungeon Keeper has a fremium tablet\smartphone incarnation now too. It looks like it might hang on to more features of the original, but still throws lots of paywalls in your way.

I wonder what will be next – Syndicate? (only 300 Credits to give your guy a minigun! Credits cost $20 for 500.)