Roller Coaster Tycoon
Written by Angelo M. D'Argenio   
Wednesday, 06 June 2007

So what can I say about Roller Coaster Tycoon.  Well let me start by saying this: I hate roller coasters.  I hate everything about roller coasters.  I get nauseous very easily, and I’m terribly afraid of heights.  In fact every time my friends and I go to a theme park, I’m always the one left out, playing the carnival games and slinking along to the arcades while they read the “Ultra Thunder Bird” or whatever the new roller coaster of the day is.

<pThat being said, you don’t have to like roller coasters, or heck, even videogames to like Roller Coaster Tycoon.  The game itself is a simulation that provides a massive level of fun.  The point of the game is to run a successful theme park.  Sounds simple enough, but it gets more complicated when you realize the amount of freedom you actually have in designing this theme park.  Ticket prices, opening times, running times, even where you put lamp posts and bathrooms are all under your control, and all actually EFFECT the productivity of your park.  Even your staff has to be perfectly balanced and paid.

The game itself is scenario based.  Just about every level you play will give you some goal to strive for, and some weirdly limiting landscape to have to overcome.  In fact that is one of the downsides of the game, a lack of a sandbox mode.  Even Sim City gave you the ability to produce a flat landscape to go wild on.  Luckily there are plenty of fan made hacks and custom made stages which are easy to import and give you that sandbox that many people are looking for.

The best part of Roller Coaster Tycoon is of course making the roller coasters.  The interface is rather simple, allowing you to add piece of track after piece of track one at a time in sequence.  This allows you to create some very interesting designs, with loops going in and out of caves and gigantic monster drops.  In addition to all this flexibility with track, the game itself gives you many choices as to the type of coaster you might want to build.  Anything from Wooden, to Steel, to Magnetic Rail coasters are available in sitting down, standing up, and even hanging formats.  The game guarantees to create a great deal of puketastic situations.

Speaking of puke, each single guest of the thousands that enter your park has their own personal preference.  That means that there are several which will be like me and just refuse to get on any of your coasters due to fear.  Then there are others which will ride due to curiosity, and puke their guts out afterward.  This of course causes more mess for your staff, and possibly negative publicity, so on so forth.  The way that the aspects of park management interact is actually quite interesting and deeply involved.

The greatest draw of the game however, is to completely ignore your guests and your objectives and just build the stupidest coasters you could possibly imagine.  You can test them without having any riders, so just watching the car go through all the loops and insane drops you have built is fun enough.  If your lucky enough, you may actually build something that dosen’t by default kill its riders due to massive g-forces.  If you are, you will pleasantly watch your queue lines build up and get huge, as you repeatedly remove more and more path for longer and longer lines, and laugh at the digital people waiting for a ride you would never look twice at.

The graphics in the game accomplish just what the game set out to do.  Its basically sprite based, which is fine, but the sprites have an absurd amount of detail.  You can see the guests turning green and puking, and even their puke stays on the ground.  Every random piece of litter at least takes a few pixels and stays there, so you know where to assign your staff too.  Heck, even when it rains, you can see your guests opening up umbrellas, and when your guests buy balloons, you can see them walking around with them, see them bursting, and even see them float away.  It’s the detail that makes the game absolutely enjoyable.

The sound in the game dosen’t get the short stick, but quite honestly isn’t that involved either.  The most you will hear in the game is the Cha Ching of a new purchase, or the retching sound of a park goer losing his lunch.  You can set your rides to play music, which you hear when you are centered on that ride, and which fades out when it gets further away, except these musical selections are about the same as the background beat selections you may find on an electronic keyboard.  That being said, for what simplistic sound there actually is, it is all very crisp and clear.  This gives the player a nice complete feeling, the graphics and sound being very in synch, and showing the game developers near obsessive attention to detail.

Very simply, Roller Coaster Tycoon is a fun game.  That’s the beginning and the end of it.  It dosen’t take a hard core computer person to enjoy this game, nor does it take a theme park fanatic.  All it takes is someone with a few minutes to kill, and a mouse.  The surroundings are colorful, the environment is detailed, and the graphics and sound coming together give you a nostalgic feeling of when you were a kid and begged your mom to go on the merry go round with you.  This game is by far worth a shot, and only gets better when coupled with its expansion packs, but that is a story for another day and another theme park.



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Related: Lemonade Tycoon 2: New York City, Business Tycoon, Railroad Tycoon Deluxe
Developer: Chris Sawyer Productions
Website for Game: http://www.atari.com/us/games/rollercoaster_tycoon/pc?PHPSESSID=e7c48baa084ddf5ff470b5a01aa50d73
Publisher: Hasbro Interactive
O/S: Windows 95/98/ME
Year of Release: 1999

Requirements:
Pentium 90 MHz, 16 MB RAM, 1 MB VRAM
Tested on:
AMD Athlon 64 2.2 GHz, 2x512 MB RAM, Geforce 4 64 MB, Windows XP.

”Score



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