Roller Coaster Tycoon Review


This is an old review I wrote on Rollercoaster Tycoon. I always thought it was good so here it is. If there is any words or sentences grammatically incorrect or has poor punctuation let me know. I need some constructive critism so I may evolve as a writer. That is why i joined Bitmop.

So enjoy!

Rollercoaster Tycoon: What a video game title! Those words just scream fun, and who doesn’t like roller coasters? Rollercoaster Tycoon is a theme park simulator developed by Chris Sawyer and MicroProse (the guys who brought you the über-awesome XCOM and Civilization). With its simple but deep learning curve, cheerful amusing theme, engaging scenarios and challenging gameplay, Rollercoaster Tycoon became one of my most cherished and loved games.  Now bear in mind this game came out over ten years ago, and it’s definitely showing its age, but this hasn’t compromised its gameplay.

In Rollercoaster Tycoon, you are presented a series of scenarios with a set objective(s) and a deadline for completing these objective(s). Objectives will vary from how much profit you make in the end, to how many park guests you have at the time.  Within the set deadline, you are given the money and freedom to build and expand your amusement park as you see fit. Completing the objectives unlocks more scenarios, with each scenario having more rides, concession stands, decorations and park customization. There are twenty-one scenarios to beat, five being accessible from the start.


One thing I love about RCT’s presentation is that they don’t throw you everything in one sandbox mode. They make you play the scenarios, unlocking different things as you go along. It makes you better understand the gameplay mechanics, and appreciate them a lot more. Plus, after you complete the objective(s), you can always go back and expand your park and research more things. Gameplay rewards are an often-used concept, but are smart developing nonetheless.

RCT was released in 1999, making it an eleven-year-old game: you’ll see its graphical age in all its isometric glory! But it is not a bad game to look at by any stretch of the imagination. Comparing RCT to other computer simulation and strategy games that came out that year, it looked pretty good. It may not be as pretty, detailed and varied as a game like Age of Empires 2 (also released in 1999) but the wonderful color scheme and simple design structure makes it perfectly easy on the eyes. Though I have some complaints regarding annoying graphical errors in the environment and different terrain in the foreground, they’re easily overlooked.

Now let’s get down to the meat of the matter, gameplay. Now remember, RCT is a theme park simulator. You will not be riding a rollercoaster or eating ice cream. You’re the tycoon, and you’ll be designing the roller coaster and deciding how much you’re going to make little Timmy pay for that delicious ice cream.

Remember, it’s all about money. You are given $10,000 starting pay to help you begin your amusement park makeover. You can build walkways and decorate them with flowers and statues. I always go for a nice water fountain to brighten up the atmosphere of the park. You will begin with simple rides and attractions to make some money and build up your reputation.

The best part of RTC is the fact that it does not pretend to be a simulation game. It goes all out. You can manage anything – right down to the very name of a park guest. Need more money? Take out a loan from the bank. Just remember the longer you take to pay it back, the lower your park’s reputation sinks. The better reputation you have, the more people attend. Need to get your reputation up? Create an ad for the park or a specific ride. The more people attend the more money the park earns.

As an amusement park tycoon, you’ll need to hire staff to help you take care of the park. Any staff you hire, you can name and set on a certain path which the staff member will follow and obey. At any point, you can start to develop and research rides, improvements to existing rides, and new stores in which to make more money. The more rides the better. Also, try not to forget about building a rollercoaster because. . . . you are going to want to. It’s the best part. Make the fastest roller coaster in the world, or the roller coaster with the biggest drop. Hell, open the roller coaster unfinished and let the cart spiral to its doom! It’s your park, and your choice.

RCT leaves nothing out, but still there are some small complaints and annoyances I have with the game. First off, the roller coaster creator is a bit clunky and can be annoying at times, especially when you are running out of room to build the coaster and all you need is one tiny square on that grid. Another complaint is the isometric angle that the game features. It makes it hard to tell how elevated the ground or a ride is. When you are building rides you need to be able to see at what height you are and the angle of the map just makes that difficult. Managing your staff can be a bit of a nuisance and sometimes the park guests are just stupid.

All these problems are easily overlooked, except for one thing. My biggest complaint about RCT is the digging mechanic and the way it displays and uses it. It’s such a burden and you have no choice but to use it at certain points in the game. If you want to build a rowboat ride you need water. You have to use the digging tool and dig a hole, but if there is a ride it’s so awkward – and the underground view they give you does nothing. Finally, when you get around to digging an okay hole, all your money’s gone from the expensive excavation prices. Argh!

But, besides all these small complaints about the RCT’s gameplay, it still stands out as one of the best theme park simulators on the market, ten years after it was first introduced.

This game is nothing special in the sound department. The one thing it does not have is music; there’s a little tune that plays in the intro, and that’s about it. There is literally no music during the game. RCT went with something different: atmospheric noise. Too bad this background noise is terrible, and just sounds like a bunch of screams and swooshes. RCT lacks audio, and I wish it didn’t, because I love me my game music!

If you are a strategy or simulation fan, I urge you to give this one a try. A few complaints here and there – but none of these complaints really diminishes the attraction of fun, unique and smart gameplay, and that’s what RCT’s got going on. Even better, you’ll pick it up as a bargain; it’s not even $5.99 and if you do have it, you’ll want to play it again.

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