Author: Gen. Chris
Original Thread: Rollercoaster Tycoon (an oldy but goody)

Rollercoaster Tycoon (an oldy but goody)

I have only played the first game, so that will be what I am reviewing

Rollercoaster Tycoon is an old but addictive game. The primary goal is the construction and maintenance of a series of amusement parks. Though it was first released in 1999, I didn't play it until a few years after that, and it quickly became one of my favorites.

Just some of the variety of rides that are part of the park building experience

You start with five parks, but with the completion of each level/park, you unlock the next blocked one on the list, and eventually you make it to the twenty third park (a "Mega Park" bonus level). The goals of each scenario differ. One could be simply reaching and maintaining an amount the park is "worth". Another, far more difficult in some cases, is keeping the Park Rating from falling too low. In order do achieve these goals, one must build and maintain a variety of rides and other attractions using the money at your disposal. Of course, you then charge to enjoy the rides so you can continue to build more rides. With certain rides, such as the various types of rollercoasters, you can either build a pre-made ride, or build a custom one. The custom coasters are generally more expensive, and can be difficult be exciting enough while also not being too intense (park guests can get sick and throw up...I'll come back to that later). Though expensive, custom rides are what give each park a unique flavor, provided by you, the park owner. You can also save custom rides to use again later on. Finally, you can also edit pre-built rollercoasters once they are up and running using the same editor The variety of rides includes: Rollercoasters (many varieties such as wooden, steel, and more), water slides, log flumes, bumper cars, Ferris wheels, and many, many more. Intense and calm rides are equally important, as not everyone likes really intense rides. There are also transport rides, such as trains, monorails, and ski-lifts, which can have multiple stations throughout the park. Transport rides are helpful for bigger parks. Throughout each scenario more and more rides become available through "development" that you fund. Most parks only start out with the basic rides but it is through development that you get the more exciting ones. Each park has to unlock each ride by itself...Just because you have the corkscrew rollercoaster in one scenario doesn't mean you won't have it in the next, at least not at the start.

Be careful though when custom building rides. For some rides the vehicles aren't really on tracks, and sharp turns or sudden rises/falls can cause the vehicles to crash. It's also possible that some rides have too many vehicles on them, which can also cause a crash. If a vehicle crashes, everyone on that vehicle will die in a fiery explosion (still don't know how that's possible with the water slide rafts though). The ride is instantly closed, and guests will refuse to ride the ride again. You can change the ride around, which often means changing the track a bit, which is easier for the custom-made rides but on pre-built rides that the park already had. Unfortunately, with rides that were in the scenario in the start, a crash can often spell doom for it, as even with editing them, sometimes people won't ride them again. It can be a real bummer because the rides that the scenario start with are often the best ones.

The custom ride builder window. Note the various sections possible to build

So is that it?

Well not quite. People have to eat and drink, and Rollercoaster Tycoon has that built into the game. Guests get hungry, and if they can't find anything to eat, they will often leave. So, the game has a variety of types of food stands and stands in general. Guests can purchase food and drink (not recommended just before going on a ride) as well as souvenirs (charging more for umbrellas when it starts raining in the game is a great way to make an extra bit of cash in a pinch as everyone rushes to buy one). Guests even eventually have to relieve themselves, hence the ability to add bathrooms. You can even charge them money to do it, and its funny to see them running in a weird fashion when they have to go. New stands are also introduced throughout each scenario by the development/research team.

A small coaster built around a garden. You have to have nice smelling coasters, huh?

Another aspect of the game, one that I find both enjoyable and annoying at the same time, is the park rating. The park rating isn't just measured by the rides you have, but also how nice the park is in general. In scenarios with high-rating requirements, you are often forced to devote sections of your parks to gardens and other scenery. Flower patches, trees, fences, and more come together to make your park beautiful, as well as increase the park rating. Scenery is also introduced by the research and development team, but every park has most of what is really necessary at the start. Another aspect of park rating is the cleanliness, safeness, and general atmosphere of the park.

You can even build on water. It costs a little extra but well worth the extra space

Which brings us to the last part of the game. People notice things. You can select individual guests and see what they are thinking (as well as their mood, if they are currently nauseous, hunger, thirst, bathroom, and what they prefer for rides. You can even see how much money they have spent and how much they have left), and what they are thinking sometimes isn't good. Remember the part I said about guests vomiting due to intense rides? Well they don't have the courtesy to do it anywhere but the paths that you build. Who cleans that up? Why, your handymen. Your handymen have several duties: Clean up paths/empty trash cans, mow the grass, and water the gardens. You can select which duties to do, which can make it easier for them to stay focused. It's helpful to have an adequate number of these workers, especially if you have a lot of rides that make people vomit afterwards.

Another staff worker you absolutely MUST hire is the maintenance man. They inspect and repair rides, and you need an adequate amount to make sure your rides break down as little as possible (the older they get, the more likely they are to break down). This can mean life or death for certain rides, as a ride breaking down at the wrong time could lead to a crash.

Keeping your guests happy is important, but it isn't possible to keep them all possible. When they get into a bad mood, they will often break things like benches, trashcans, lamps, etc. That's why you must hire security guards. Again, like the previous ones, you should hire plenty, as the area for just one security guard to cover can multiply as well. Their sole purpose is to deter vandalism.

Lastly, you have your entertainers in costumes. These aren't necessarily must haves, but they are helpful for guests who have been in line for a while, and the entertainers generally give a nicer atmosphere to the park. You don't need many of these.

All staff workers can be assigned areas to patrol, which can sometimes be helpful, sometimes not.

A pair of rides from the scenario Diamond Heights. They are synchronized, in that they depart and arrive at the same time.

As for the scenarios themselves, the game offers a wide variety of challenges. One park is essentially built on a chain of small islands, making you have to build often over the water. Another park (Dinky Park) is, well, tiny. Unless you purchase extra land later in the scenario, you have very little space to build due to the use of much of the land already by the other rides. If you are savvy, you can build a small shuttle-loop and do pretty well with that (these are crowd pleasers in ANY park, and I generally have multiple ones on the larger parks). Another scenario is taking a park that is practically in a depression (vandalism, litter/vomit, and pretty much every problem imaginable run rampant) and turning it around in the allotted time. The last park you receive is a bonus, called "Mega Park" it is essentially a "have fun and build" scenario, as there are no requirements and no time limit. It really is the largest park by far, and the only development on it is there are a few different themed and landscaped sections that make it easy to theme an area, and some of the sections have more tiles than some of the previous parks! It's a nice little bonus for completing the game.

The start of a new park

Rating: All in all, I give this game a 9.5/10. The game can be quite addictive, and due to the nature and freedom of the game as a whole, you can often complete scenarios in different ways, adding tremendous re-playability to the game. Each scenario offers its own challenges, and with over 20 parks, you have a lot of options to choose from. The depth of the management, from the rides to the staff, also make it fun, as well as challenging. The building of custom rides is by far my favorite aspect, as my creativity (as well as my malevolence for seeing squeamish people suffer after a new ride that doesn't have an intensity rating yet) are given a chance to shine through while building custom rides.

There are few negative aspects. One of the most annoying parts of the game can be satisfying the people. They are also incredibly stupid, and often "get lost and can't find the park exit" which the news ticker in the game will inform you of for EVERY single guest that is lost, and with each "ding" it makes, it makes you want to mute the game. This gets especially problematic with Mega Park, as the park's sheer size means that even with straight paths people will get lost. In the one game of Mega Park I have done people were getting lost in just the first section, let alone the farther and farther sections. It really makes me wish you could construct multiple park entrances/exits. You can, however, fix the problem with just a few problematic guests by "picking them up" and dropping them off at the exit, or you could drown by dropping them in a lake for annoying you. It gets more complicated when there are dozens of guests who are lost, though. Another thing I don't like is the isometric view, which can make it hard to see things at times. The last problem is some of the minor mechanics such as where guests can throw up (only on the paths), the staffworkers not doing their jobs despite being adequate and number, and a couple others. Nothing really major.

Dinky Park, though with everything from the start demolished to fit that many coasters in

Closing thoughts: This game is a must have. It provides hours and hours of gameplay, and will leave you satisfied. I haven't tried any of the expansions or sequels, but I have heard good things about them. The sandbox-style of the game is also quite fun, especially with the Mega Park, despite its flaws. I'd recommend it and the others for anyone who enjoys building things.

Hope this was a good read.