A few weeks ago, we heard about a forthcoming Facebook game from the popular Six Flags theme park company. Last week the title finally launched, becoming the second Facebook title for the park — the first, back in 2008, being a compilation of mini-games simply titled Six Flags. The newer title, Mascot Park, is significantly more creative, tasking users with teaching their animal avatar performances, filled with bizarre dancing and props, to become the top star at Six Flags. Coupled with a handful of interesting mini-games, Mascot Park has a great premise, but misses the mark on many levels.
Jumping into the game is easy enough, as players can actually create a fairly wide variety of avatars. From sharks to monkeys, there are a great number of outfits fit for anything from Vegas to the ballet. Everything is extremely cheap to purchase, so the player can pretty much create whatever they want right from the get-go.
Once in the game world, the player is prompted to create their first show. This takes a similar approach to American Idol Star Experience, if a bit slimmed down. Basically, the process consists of dragging themed dance/performance moves to a bar of five slots. From here, the avatar will do his or her moves in sequence to a basic music track.
During the performance, players will then be able to intervene with comical add-ins ranging from the classic pie to the face or slip on a banana peel to, more violently, squishing the avatar with a car or chopping off its arm with a flying axe (blood included). Some are moderately amusing, others just weird, but each one is themed to different performance studios such as space, a haunted house, or the Vegas Strip.
Once a performance is saved, the player can choose how long to perform, which will affect the resulting amount of money, experience, and fans. Fans and new levels appear to unlock different props and settings for performances, as well as add intervention pieces (e.g. a shower of money). There’s also a virtual space, dubbed the Star Trailer, that’s reminiscent of a Pet Society house, but it doesn’t appear to have any purpose for now beyond housing buttons for a virtual store and providing a dressing room for your avatar.
The two mini-games that are part of Mascot Park are called Mascot Melee and Cannonball Chaos. The first is interesting in that you pick up an acorn gun, of sorts, and move about in a 2D platforming shooter, trying not to get “killed” by other mascots. Unfortunately, the controls are clunky, you can’t move with the gun out, aiming is slow and it is, overall, not fun.
Cannonball Chaos, on the other hand, is a bit better. As in games like Paf le Chien, you launch your avatar out of a cannon and keep him in the air for as long as possible using rockets, explosives, trampolines and so forth. The only issue is that it doesn’t seem to accomplish anything within the larger game — neither mini-game does. They’re just there.
In the visual department, Mascot Park feels unpolished. While the avatars themselves look decent when you’re creating them, their movements are stiff and awkward looking. This becomes worse when they perform more advanced dance animations, to the point of just looking bad. As for the interventions, like the pies to the face, most come off as cheesy and few do anything unique. For example, there are a series of “Push” interventions that are basically items, like the pie, that fly from off-screen to hit the avatar as they make a dull “shocked” look. The thing is, that whether it’s a pie, car, or grandmother, it’s all essentially the same animation.
The social elements are a bit hazy as well. According to the press release, the game supposedly allows friends to watch each others’ performance (and likely intervene as well), but the “Invite Friends” button doesn’t appear to do anything. Furthermore, with only about three tutorial boxes, which only talk about making a performance, there is no explanation about such mechanics or how they work.
For the moment, Mascot Park still appears littered with bugs, usability, and optimization issues. Beyond the occasionally horrid load times, avatars have more than once disappeared on us. As for usability, there is a store in the Star Trailer, but the game rejects half the attempts to purchase anything without explaining why — the issue is likely a level or fan requirement, but it shouldn’t be left to the user to figure that out. Finally, when choosing how long to perform, there doesn’t ever appear to be a visible timer to let the player know how long is left until the performances are over.
Overall Mascot Park is a good idea, and quite the endeavor for Six Flags, but it also feels early. Presentation-wise the game is corny and awkward looking (even for a target audience of kids), and the overall usability is troubled. Littered with features the player has to figure out on their own, a number of bugs, and relatively unclear objectives, Mascot Park is a game that still needs work.