It's how the game balances all this variety that makes Thrillville so much fun. Everything makes sense--you're not just doing minigames for the sake of doing them. If you need to train an entertainer, you do so by performing a dancing minigame. Should you need to fix a ride, you do it by connecting wires in a somewhat difficult, but still fun, minigame. Even figuring out what you're doing right or wrong is handled smartly. You can talk to any patron about a number of subjects, but if you don't feel like yapping to everyone in sight the game will let you know the more important stuff by having park-goers shout out their problems as you walk by. When you've heard a dozen customers complain about not being able to find a drink as you've walked from one end of the park to the other, well, you get the idea, it's time to build a drink stand. Off the Rails also achieves a good balance between being fun for adults as well as children. It's not a particularly challenging to build a cool park, but that doesn't really matter because the fun comes from playing minigames and building the most over-the-top rides possible. While the campaign mode is technically single-player only, it's fun to play with another person. It's not hard to envision parents handling the controls while younger children detail just how they want their coaster built.
Thrillville isn't a great-looking game. In fact, it barely qualifies as good looking, even on the PC and the Xbox 360, where it looks the best. It has a cartoonlike style to it, and there are lots of bold, bright colors to be seen. The 15 or so areas of the parks each have a unique design that might not be supercreative (there's a beach town, a snowy mountain, a futuristic area, and an underwater section, to name a few), but they all serve to make each park feel like its own special place. It's fun to customize your rides' themes and colors, even if they don't have much of an effect on your park's success, outside of a few specific missions. Though the game isn't filled with detailed textures, lighting and particle effects, or anything else that should push a console to its limits, Off the Rails doesn't run perfectly on any system. The 360 and PC versions have some frame rate hitches; the Wii version runs fairly well (and uses motion controls to let you build your coasters) but has some nasty aliasing issues; the PS2 version is aliased and runs pretty choppily; and the PSP iteration suffers from some long load times and a sometimes stuttery frame rate, though it does let you play multiplayer via Wi-Fi, which is nice. None of these technical issues ruin the experience, but it's worth noting that the game would have benefited from some sharper visuals.
Don't worry--in this world, crashing coasters are considered cool.
At least the game sounds good. The older crowd might not dig the soundtrack, which sounds as if it were ripped straight from Radio Disney, but the music fits the game's lighthearted feel. The voice acting is solid, too. There's a surprising amount of dialogue in the game, and while the conversation options might not rival those in Mass Effect, there's a lot you can find out by simply walking up to someone and talking to them.
You can spend hours building your park, or you can just play minigames; you can play alone, have someone play the role of advisor, or get a group of people together and play the minigames like a party game. It's how everything comes together that makes Thrillville: Off the Rails such a good overall experience and one that truly is "fun for the whole family."