Step right up: a video game theme-park

Have you ever played a video game you’d love to experience in real-life? Nintendo fans will have something to look forward to after the company announced at the end of 2016 that themed-areas will be coming to the Universal theme parks in Japan, Orlando and Hollywood over the next several years. But what about the rest of us?

There are so many games that would make an excellent theme-park or at least an attraction within one. The lovely Luna from the GamersUnitedGG Blog posed this question to her nominees for the Mystery Blogger Award recently and this post is dedicated to her: here’s what I’d do if I was going to build a pleasure ground dedicated to the world of video games.

The planning stages

Theme Park, video game, snake, slide, visitors, planning

This one may be obvious but what else would you use to plan the layout for a new theme-park? Bullfrog’s construction and management simulation enabled players to design and create their own attractions with the goal of making money and expanding across the world. I’d use Theme Park to give a visual representation alongside my business case for a profitable amusement park, which I’d take to the bank and convince them to give me a huge loan so I could start the building work. Simple.

Sonic Boom rollercoaster

Sonic the Hedgehog, video game, Green Hill Zone, palm tree, rings, blue hedgehog

A rollercoaster would be the perfect way to recreate Sonic the Hedgehog’s speed: imagine hurtling round the track to the music from the Green Hill Zone in a train of blue cars. Cliff-drops and vertical loops through palm trees would have your stomach flipping over and screams being let out involuntarily. You know how Sonic looks when he loses his rings after taking damage? That’s exactly the look I want to see on visitors’ faces when they get off the ride – before promptly throwing up.

The Ishimura’s Dread ghost train

Dead Space, video game, monster, alien, necromorph, Isaac, astronaut, space suit

Imagine a trip through the USG Ishimura, the necromorph-infested space vessel from Dead Space. Live actors would take on the role of these mutated antagonists so the experience is slightly different each time and the fear-factor is amplified. Isaac Clark would make an appearance to ‘save’ the visitors just in time at the end of the ride – and also provide an excellent opportunity for autographs, signed t-shirts and photographs upon exiting. For which of course you’ll be charged an over-inflated price.

Welcome to Rapture log flume

BioShock, video game, Rapture, 1959, sign, New Year, rubble

Step onto my log flume for a tour through the wondrous underwater city of Rapture. See the amazing sights of BioShock’s setting: Neptune’s Bounty, Arcadia, Big Daddies and Little Sisters. The ride would grow gradually darker as it progresses and scuttling will be heard in the shadows as robotic Splicers draw closer… before you’re thrown over the edge in pitch-black and plunged into a pool of freezing cold water. You may have to spend the rest of day wearing soggy clothes, but it’ll be worth it.

Bowser’s Bash bumper-cars

Mario Kart, Mario Kart 8, video game, racing, cars, race track, Bowser, Mario

The bumper-cars are one of the most-loved attractions at any amusement park so how about combining them with one of the most-loved racing games, Mario Kart? But let’s give our visitors a proper race-track rather than a square plot to drive around. Optional plastic cagoules would be handed out before the start of the ride to protect your clothing from squid ink; however, it should be noted that the park management cannot be held responsible for any injuries resulting from wayward shells and stray banana skins. Thank you.

Aperture Science educational area

Portal, video game, GLaDOS, robot, eye

Most of the theme-parks here in the UK have an area where school-trip kids are taken for some ‘learning’ – usually as a way to stop the teachers from feeling so bad about their class going somewhere fun as part of their education. Que the Aperture Science room, where tutor GLaDOS teaches the little darlings about physics through the wonders of high-tech virtual reality. She may have them crying by the end of the lesson but at least they’ll be rewarded with cake on the way out. Or is that a lie?

The Uncharted: Live show

Uncharted, Uncharted 4, A Thief's End, video game, Nathan Drake, explosion, jump

What do you get if you combine a cheesy Nathan Drake lookalike, appearances from Sully and Elena, pyrotechnics, vehicle crashes and plenty of climbing action? The Uncharted: Live show! Audience participation would be highly encouraged with selected volunteers taking on the role of pirate hostages, so our hero can rescue their butts and save the day. And of course there’s the additional perk of another autograph and photo opportunity – just watch your mum around Drake and make sure she keeps her hands to herself.

Mother’s Heart Zero Zoo safari

Horizon Zero Dawn, video game, robots, beasts, animals, dinosaurs

A lot of theme-parks have a zoo or safari-type attraction but in this day of eco-awareness and conservation, perhaps using real animals isn’t the best way to go. That’s where Horizon Zero Dawn comes in: mechanical beasts are the future! No need to feed them or clean-up their mess, just turn them on and watch them go. Of course, the park staff will need to be watchful for unexpected murderous stampedes; but at least visitors can take home their very own blaze canister as a souvenir.

The Big Whoop restaurant

The Secret of Monkey Island, Monkey Island, video game, Scumm Bar, pub, inn, pirates, Guybrush

A sure-fire way to rake in money at theme-parks is to have a restaurant complete with mascots, and Monkey Island fits the bill perfectly. Imagine Guybrush or Elaine showing you to your table in a place decked out like the Scumm Bar, undead pirates serving up ‘meat with condiment’ and cheese squigglies, and a three-headed monkey showing up halfway through your meal? With root beer for the kids and grog for the adults, there’s something on the menu for everyone – plus complimentary breath mints.

Tingle’s Treasures gift shop

The Legend of Zelda, Ocarina of Time, video game, shop, Hyrule Market

Following on from the restaurant above, no pleasure ground can do without a gift shop – how else are you meant to claw those last few pennies from exhausted parents trying to drag their screaming offspring out of your theme-park at the end of the day? With the music from The Legend of Zelda’s Hyrule Market shops playing on repeat without a pause, visitors will be all too eager to hand over their remaining cash for some overpriced toot so they can get out of there and away from the annoying assistants who keep telling them to ‘listen’.

I feel a Kickstarter campaign coming on… anyone want to be my first backer?

(A big thank you to Tim, Kevin and Nathan who helped me out with the names of some of the attractions!)

If video games have taught me anything…

We’ve been fortunate enough to be nominated for seven blogging awards since the beginning of the year. We can’t thank our followers enough for their support! We held our first blog party on Friday to show our appreciation (look out for the next one in the summer).

A common theme of many of these awards is helping new bloggers find their feet and giving those that have been around for a while a bit of well-deserved acknowledgement. Nominees are usually expected to give one or two pieces of blogging advice they feel their readers may benefit from; but what about the life lessons we’ve learnt from playing video games?

I asked several friends about the most ‘useful’ things they’ve ascertained through gaming and here are their responses*. This post is dedicated to DJMMT from DJMMT’s Gaming Blog, who nominated Later Levels for the Blogger Recognition Award earlier this month.

Tip 1: ask anyone nicely enough and you’ll get what you want

BioShock, video game, would you kindly, writing, wall, photographs, paperwork

Manners are important: they’re a sign of courtesy and professionalism, and having them will go a long way to increasing success in both business and life. Ask someone to help you with something in the right way and they’ll be more willing to give you a hand. Just take a look at BioShock for instance: add a ‘kindly’ into your question and you’ll have people bringing down planes, heading to specific destinations, killing your enemies and generally eating out of the palm of your hand in no time.

Tip 2: the government are totally in cahoots with aliens

Beyond Good & Evil, Jade, alien, DomZ, eye

Tim from GeekOut South-West says: “The world can be a truly terrifying place. To make it even more frightening, how about if I were to say that the government is looking to hand us all over to our alien overlords for a boatload of cash? What if I told you that all it would take to overthrow said government is a camera? Well, that’s exactly the lesson I learnt from Beyond Good & Evil: our leaders are going to sell us out to the DomZ. We’re all pretty much doomed.”

Tip 3: the more ridiculous something is, the more likely it is to work

Saints Row, Saints Row IV, dupstep gun, dancing, twerking

Chris from OverThinker Y: “If games have taught me anything, it’s that there’s a direct correlation between how ridiculous something is and how likely it is to work. For example, I struggle no end to overcome foes in Saint’s Row IV using a pistol or rifle, but give me a giant dildo bat and a dubstep gun and I’ll be laughing. Or Portal: overwhelmed by an angry AI? No problem; just warp it to the moon! I do try to apply these valuable lessons in life, but there are sadly few opportunities to do so.”

Tip 4: The Legend of Zelda has all the answers

The Legend of Zelda, A Link to the Past, video game, Link, dungeon, chest

Kevin from The Mental Attic says: “There are so many things that can be learnt from The Legend of Zelda. Such as the quiet ones are usually the chosen ones. Or if you see a Gerudo man, you should kill him because he’s probably evil. Faeries are crunchy, and there’s always time for a harp solo. Lost in the woods? Then follow the music! It’s called Death Mountain for a reason; villains laugh in surround sound; and finally, most importantly of all: it’s dangerous to go alone, so take this.”

Tip 5: think outside the box to solve life’s problems

Metal Gear Solid, video game, Snake, box, cardboard box, sneak, hide, enemies

Nathan says: “Metal Gear Solid has taught me how to get creative in order to get out of sticky situations: whether it be using a Japanese model magazine to distract your foes whilst hiding in a locker, or using a cardboard box to sneak past enemies. This game and many others like it encourage you to think outside the box to solve life’s issues. When you walk down the street and catch the eye of someone you don’t fancy, pull a box out of nowhere and watch an exclamation mark appear over their head – problem solved!”

Tip 6: hooking up with work colleagues is never a good idea

Mass Effect, video game, Kaiden, man, male, topless, muscles

Getting it on with one of your co-workers is never recommended: one moment it’s all flirting by the water-cooler, and the next staplers are flying across the office in an all-out war. The space dating-sim Mass Effect teaches us about the dangers of conducting a romance in the workplace. Have an illicit encounter with a colleague and they’re more likely to bite the bullet – and there’s always the chance that a horde of highly-advance killing machines will be unleashed by the Human Resources department. It’s far easier to just stay away, regardless of how hot your co-workers are.

Tip 7: it’s good to be bad

Dungeon Keeper, video game, vault, casino, demon, devil, roulette

Tim from GeekOut South-West says: “Dungeon Keeper was a game that allowed you to be as bad as you wanted and rewarded you with points for it. This meant you’d be compensated for imprisoning fairies and knights, wizards and even the lord of the land. You were really aiming to be as bad as you could be – and it’s a-okay to do so. I guess it’s time to go slap some imps, dig some rooms up, make casinos and rig them so my minions spend all their money in their work time. It’s good to be bad!”

Tip 8: girls act all nice and then WHAM!

Mario Kart 8, video game, Princess Peach, racing, car, go-kart, motorbike, track

This piece of advice actually came from my stepson Ethan and was the inspiration behind this post. After a particularly difficult race in Mario Kart 8 where Princess Peach had got the jump on him at least once in every lap, he said: “Girls act all lovely and nice and then WHAM! They hit you over the back of the head with a blue shell.” This boy is wise beyond his years and has offered a life lesson that many a man may wish they’d paid attention to.

* Later Levels and its associates cannot be held responsible for any monetary losses, bodily harm or other unforeseen consequences arising as a result of taking our advice. Thank you.