Amusement parks are where people go to relax on a sunny day. They also appear as less-than-relaxing locations in plenty of video games. Game designers can somehow be inspired by “The happiest place on Earth” and turn that inspiration into a place with murderous robots or zombies. Not all in-game parks are trying to kill you, however; some host creative mini-games for heroes and heroines to enjoy. Here are some of the most memorable amusement parks in video games.
Dead Rising 2
Fortune City’s amusement park was a nice place full of UFO crashes and molemen – then the zombies arrived and ruined the family fun. Now Uranus Zone is filled with zombies, but the park offers plenty of ways to fight back. Galactic Glide, a giant swinging spaceship, kills zombies as they walk under it. Combining this with Frank West’s ingenious weaponsmithing means the zombies should be cleared out of this theme park in no time. Unfortunately, none of the awesome action in the Dead Rising 2’s Off The Record DLC (including this theme park) is canonical, but that doesn’t make it any less fun to play.
Cuphead’s second world starts in the middle of a fair, with a Ferris wheel, food stands, and the sinister boss Beppi the Clown. You’ll quickly learn to hate rollercoasters, since you have to dodge one during your fight on the tracks. However, a speeding train isn’t even the biggest threat in this level; inflated balloon-dog heads fly down at you while you jump over passengers on the coaster. Then Beppi jumps on his horse and starts flinging horseshoes at you instead. Cuphead and Mugman will die many times trying to take on this sadistic clown, but the satisfaction of finally finishing Beppi makes it all worthwhile.
Batman: Arkham Knight
Set atop an offshore drilling rig, Seagate Amusement Park doesn’t need a working roller coaster for The Joker and Harley Quinn to have fun. Batgirl and Robin make their way to the oil platform to find a kidnapped Commissioner Gordon in the Batgirl: A Matter of Family DLC for Batman: Arkham Knight. Fighting a bunch of henchmen, Batgirl soon faces a speeding Ferris wheel with hostages onboard, which she puts the brakes on before moving inside the oil rig to find more hostages on a ride featuring a ship with a giant octopus attached. While the Joker eventually flees and the oil rig is seemingly abandoned four years later (during Arkham Knight’s campaign), the idea of an offshore amusement park is a tough one to forget.
Setting aside the fact that pretty much the entirety of Sunset Overdrive’s city plays like you’re in an amusement park, the actual amusement park portion is extremely fun. After killing mutants across the park while jumping on bunches of balloons from the Rocket Murica ride to the Ferris wheel, you eventually end up at the best ride in every amusement park: the rollercoaster. Sliding around on the rails of this active coaster, you jump from one part of the track to another with ease while blowing up medieval scenery and mutants. The train speeding its way along the tracks also happens to be spitting flames out its front. That’s the boss, and it’s destroyed by putting on a giant triceratops head and ramming directly into the train.
Left 4 Dead 2
Left 4 Dead 2 introduces infected clowns for the Dark Carnival campaign. These squeaky-nosed undead attract common infected to team up and attack any survivors who dare enter Whispering Oaks Amusement Park. Your group’s job is to get through the creepy carnival to an outdoor concert venue where you call for a helicopter by making a bunch of noise and shooting off fireworks. Which, of course, calls a bunch of infected hordes as well; it wouldn’t be a mission finale without that small detail. When you’re not running from infected, take a break with some of the minigames found throughout the park like Whack-A-Mole, a strength tester, and a shooting gallery, all of which unlock achievements.
The entrance to the abandoned amusement park in Nier: Automata features seemingly endless fireworks and robots you can attack before platforming across a broken rocket ship ride and taking on a tank. Then you hop aboard a rollercoaster where you perform some physics-defying side-scrolling combat before making your way to the boss, a giant robot that will try to kill you with spinning blades, bouncing orbs, bullets, homing missiles, and lasers. It’s going to be a tough fight, but once you’re successful you can abandon the abandoned amusement park and continue with the story. Unless you want to fight a giant rabbit statue that comes to life once you’ve done enough damage to it, that is.
Rockstar loves adding minigames to its titles (no, I don’t want to go bowling, cousin), and it had a ball with the carnival in Bully. You can even experience the carnival's old Western-themed rides from a first-person perspective. The carnival includes four mini games: Strike Out involves throwing baseballs at moving targets, High Striker is a test of strength, Splish Splash is a dunk tank, and the shooting range is, well, a shooting range. Tickets won from these games can be exchanged for prizes. The fair also has go kart races to participate in, and the carnival plays host to the mission “Funhouse Fun,” which has you dodging scythes and shovels as you traverse the carnival’s funhouse.
Final Fantasy VII
The Gold Saucer, built above the ruins of Old Coral as a shining beacon in the middle of a grimy world, offers everything from Chocobo racing to the opportunity to participate in a play with your date. The Wonder Square is the real jewel of the Gold Saucer, letting you replay minigames found in other parts of Final Fantasy VII, from bowling to motorbiking. Be sure to spend the GP you get from mini games and Chocobo races before leaving the Gold Saucer, as everywhere else in the game only accepts Gil.
It only happens once every thousand years, and the title character can’t even wake up for it on his own. The start of this epic game has Crono woken up by his mom who rushes him out to the Millennial Fair, your first introduction to the world of Chrono Trigger. Go ahead and participate in a soda-chugging contest and be a lab rat for a teleportation system that couldn’t possibly go wrong. Be careful with your actions here, however, as they could come back to hurt you later in the game.
Super Mario Sunshine
Located on a small island off the coast of Isle Delfino, Pinna Park features a good number of vibrantly colored rides, and Nintendo makes use of all of them throughout Super Mario Sunshine’s campaign. Whether you’re collecting red coins spread across swinging pirate ships, riding a rollercoaster while shooting at a giant mechanical Bowser, or reaching the top of an out-of-control Ferris wheel to slow it down, Pinna Park is sure to keep you entertained as you splish-splash your way throughout it.