STAFF REVIEW of ScreamRide (Xbox One)

Tuesday, March 3, 2015.
by Adam Dileva

ScreamRide Box art People are going to compare ScreamRide closely with RollerCoaster Tycoon simply because of the nature of its subject matter, but ScreamRide is its completely own game and takes things much further than simply a theme park simulator. It’s clear that it’s a spiritual successor though. If RollerCoaster Tycoon and Boom Blox had a kid together, ScreamRide would most likely be the result. As long as you go into ScreamRide knowing that it’s not a theme park management game. But instead focuses on gameplay through its different modes, you’ll most likely enjoy your time with it. It should be noted though that this review is specifically for the Xbox One version, as there are some minor differences (and price tag differences) which I’ll outline later below.

For a game based around creating, riding, and even destroying roller coasters, you wouldn’t expect that the game would have a storyline to it, but ScreamRide attempts to do so, but without much focus. The whole idea is that the ScreamWorks company is studying how to bring new extreme levels of entertainment to the masses by developing and testing rides that would in no way ever exist in the real world. It’s all about creating adrenaline rushes and your job is to help ScreamWorks craft rides that will excite the biggest of extreme rider fans. I applaud them for trying to at least add some resemblance of story or motivation of why you’re subjecting yourself to these crazy rides but it’s not going to keep you interested in any way, even when you unlock the new areas to experiment in, six in total.

So if ScreamRide isn’t a theme park simulator, then what is it you ask? Well, it depends on which of the three modes you decide on playing. There’s ScreamRider, Demolition, and Engineer, each of which is drastically different and are essentially their own games within each mode. Let’s start off with ScreamRider. This mode puts you into the cabin of a premade coaster and your goal is to not only finish the track but gain a high score doing so by tilting the coaster on its sides, hitting turbo boosts at the right time, and more. You want to give the riders a crazy experience, so try and lean the coaster on two wheels when taking bends but without crashing or coming off the rails.

Certain pieces of track that glow blue will fill your turbo meter if you can press the ‘X’ button right at the end of that specific piece of track. The closer you press the button to the end of the track, the more your turbo is filled, and if you can perfect combo turbo sections together you’ll get some very much needed score increases and more turbo to allow you to finish the track quicker. There will also be tracks that will have sections where the cabin actually comes off the rails and jumps a gap. You need to again press ‘X’ just before landing to get a bonus and some of your turbo meter filled. The more accurate you are the bigger the bonus.

The majority of what you’ll be doing though is leaning your riders to one side of the other to get the coaster on two wheels. This not only gains you bonus points, and the longer you are on two wheels the bigger the bonus, but there will eventually be sections where you’ll need to lean to either side to avoid obstacles. Most of the time these will be signs that are placed on the track, so you need to lean to the opposite side to avoid derailing, but there will also be certain courses where one side of the track itself is missing, so you need to lean on the correct side to keep the cabin moving forward towards the finish line. The game teaches you all of the new mechanics in a slow and steady pace and by the later levels you’ll have no problem leaning for bonus points and out of necessity.

If you were a fan of Boom Blox for the Wii many years ago, you’ll definitely be spending a lot of time in Demolition Mode. The whole goal in this mode is to see how much destruction you can cause and rack up the points, much like Burnout’s crash mode. Most stages are setup Angry Birds style, where your riders are placed into a capsule and your job is to set the power level, aim, and launch to destroy as much as you can. Why? It’s always fun to see stuff blow up right?

You toss one cabin at a time and as you progress through the different stages, you’ll unlock new types of cabins, each with their own abilities to cause mayhem (again, much like Angry Birds). The standard ball cabin doesn’t do anything special, but you’ll eventually get cabins that can blast apart into three sections, can be controlled much easier midair, a sticky bomb cabin that can explode whenever you like, among others. The launch arm is aimed usually towards a cluster of buildings and your job is try try and create as much havoc as possible with the set amount of throws you’re given, so you need to be on the lookout for weak spots in structures, exploding barrels, and other items that might not always be the most obvious choice for destruction.

There are a few stages where instead of these cabins being tossed, there will be a small section of roller coaster track setup for you to launch off of, with the same goals in mind. The coasters you get to use all have their own abilities such as being able to fire a booster rocket, deploy wings to glide much further and accurately, or explode. Just like the cabins you’re given, you have a preset amount of launches and specific coasters that can be used each attempt. It will take a lot of trial and error to figure out the best aim and power combination, which structures to aim for first, and which cabins to use in which order among other factors, but once you get the hang of it and see massive destruction, it’ll keep bringing a smile to your face.

The final mode in the campaign is the Engineer Mode. Here is where you’re usually given a portion of a track already made and you need to finish it or follow its objectives to earn a high score or medals. Sounds easy but it was by far the most difficult mode in the game for me to progress in. Stages will start out easy and have you simply finishing the track with certain objectives like using a preset amount of track, reaching a specific speed, or having the cabin fly off the track a certain distance. What makes it difficult is that you’re only given access to specific pieces of track, so you need to be very creative in how you tackle the challenges.

Once you complete your track, or simply want to see if something will work, you can quickly hop into the cabin and watch how it does, but keep in mind you don’t actually control the riders this time like in ScreamRider mode, so you’ll need to be mindful on your sharp corners and speeds or else you’ll eject riders or even derail the coaster itself. There is a S.I.N. tracker in the bottom corner that tracks everything the riders are feeling at any given point (Scream, Intensity, and Nausea), so you can use this to gauge what’s working and what isn’t based on your current goals.

It’s best to think of this mode almost as a puzzle game, and there’s not always going to be a single solution. How I solve one of these objectives might be completely different from you, but you’re always given a preset amount of track length and pieces, so it’s up to you to figure out how to do so. I found some of the preset restrictions to be very difficult, but like any good puzzle game, once you figure out a solution, it’s very gratifying. There’s even a button press to auto-complete your track for you, making the game try to attach the track ends in the shortest route possible. Given that you also have skybox limits, this isn’t always an easy solution.

So while those three modes make up the campaign (six worlds, each with 3 to 4 stages each), you’ll most likely finish them up quite quickly. There are extra challenges for you to try and gain more medals, which you’ll eventually need to do as there’s a medal count restriction on unlocking each world, but I’ve spent hours simply trying to complete the bonus objectives. Some are quite easy, such as stay on two wheels for a certain amount of time (ScreamRider mode), destroy 6 bill board signs (Demolition), or reach a certain speed (Engineer), but you’ll come across some of these bonus objectives that are quite difficult, such as doing the above but while also reaching a specific overall score (which is usually quite high). So there is some replayability here for players that are wanting to complete everything.

Lastly, there’s an Editor mode, and once you get the hang of it (it’s much like Engineer mode for controls), this is where you’re given the ultimate freedom to not only create the roller coaster you’ve always dreamt of, but you can also create the backdrop and structures of your park as well. This mode is how the developers created the campaign levels itself, so you’re given a very powerful toolset if you have the imagination and patience. You obtain new track pieces and other items for completing campaign levels, so even if you want to solely play the Editor mode, make sure you unlock those special pieces beforehand.

You can simply start by making some flat ground if you simply want to create a coaster as fast as possible, but for those with much more time, patience, and imagination, you can create a truly unique experience complete with buildings and more. You create the scenery with blocks, Minecraft style, but you can change brush sizes and even paint on different textures to make some unique artworks as well that your coaster can ride around or even through. There is a limit of how many pieces total can be placed in the world, and unless you’re going to make some very intricate structures to go along with the coaster itself, it’s more than enough for the average project.

Once you decide what type of coaster you want to make, you’ve given access to every pieces you’ve obtained so far and can create whatever you wish. If you want to have your track go as high as it can and then have a massive drop, you can do so. It’s quite simple to control and any pieces that will collide when placed will highlight in red and not allow you to place it. You’re given many different types and pieces of track and can even easily rotate and put a twist on them to add some more extremeness to your creation. Once you’re coaster is complete you can tweak a bunch of other settings such as a single lap or multiple if you want to have players ride a marathon based on how long your coaster is. Being able to quickly jump in and test your rides allows you to tweak and edit along the way and there is already some amazing creations put up for download from other players.

This is where we come to the Level Center. Exclusive to the Xbox One version (sorry 360 players), this allows you to upload your creations, but also to browse others content. Most will search he finish levels for awesome new tracks to test and play, but there’s even a Blueprint option that allows you to save a specific structure or ride that others can use in their levels as well. Maybe you’re really good at creating the park itself and buildings with your Minecraft skills but can’t make an exciting coaster; this is where you would download the blueprint of someone’s ride and be able to place it within your level.

The longevity of ScreamRide is simply going to come down to its user generated content since the campaign levels themselves can be completely quite quickly. While I only got to review the Xbox One version, the fact that the 360 version doesn’t have the Level Center is a downfall. To be fair, the 360 version is $10 less at launch ($29.99), while the Xbox One version is $39.99, but it’s odd seeing a price disparity between the versions, even with this single mode being the main difference (aside from graphics obviously).

There are some very major framerate issues, specifically in the Demolition mode or when many things start to become destroyed at once, and while it doesn’t’ affect gameplay itself, it happens quite often and frequent enough to simply ignore. While I do like the cartoonish art style ScreamRide uses, the audio is a completely different story. You’re going to hear the same one liners and screams on a constant basis. I actually got quite tired of ScreamRider modes simply because the announcer always has to say “Perfect” or “Good” every time you fill your turbo on the glowing blue track pieces and it becomes quite old hearing it every single attempt multiple times.

I enjoyed ScreamRide more than I thought I initially would, but once I was done with the campaign levels and progressed as far as I could in each of the three main modes, it almost felt like I was done with it. To be fair, the general public hasn’t gotten the game until now so there hasn’t been many user created levels for me to enjoy (I don’t have the time or imagination to make anything amazing) but I’m sure there will be more than enough once more players get their hands on it. That being said, the lifeline and longevity of ScreamRide is solely going to be in the community and created levels, so it will all come down to that factor. It might flourish or it might not, time will tell.

Overall: 7.3 / 10
Gameplay: 8.0 / 10
Visuals: 7.5 / 10
Sound: 6.5 / 10


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