LGR – RollerCoaster Tycoon – PC Game Review

September 28, 2019

[typing] What do you get when you combine Theme Park, Disney’s Coaster and Transport Tycoon? You get a… pile of old DOS games. You also get RollerCoaster Tycoon, the 1999 management simulation
game from Chris Sawyer, MicroProse and Hasbro Interactive. And yes, that’s the same Scotland-
based independent game developer Chris Sawyer who got his start doing PC ports for games like Frontier: Elite II and Birds of Prey. He’s also the designer of the absolutely
incredible Transport Tycoon in 1994 a follow-up of sorts to the also
excellent Sid Meier’s 1990 simulator, Railroad Tycoon. In fact, the first “TT” did so well that he expanded the game a year later with
the now-legendary Transport Tycoon Deluxe and immediately started thinking about a sequel. But while working on Transport Tycoon 2, Sawyer developed a keen interest in roller coasters. Presumably also inspired by the
1994 Bullfrog game Theme Park, his development focus shifted to a
game he was calling “White Knuckle.” It eventually adopted the “Tycoon” suffix
used by other MicroProse simulators, and RollerCoaster Tycoon was born. While the original game was published in 1999, it didn’t take long for the expansion
packs to start littering store shelves. The first was Added Attractions in late 1999, known in the US as Corkscrew Follies,
for whatever reason, followed by Loopy Landscapes in 2000. After the Hasbro buyout by Infrogrames, they released special editions of RCT. Those in 2002 were Totally RollerCoaster, which included the base game and Loopy Landscapes, and RollerCoaster Tycoon Deluxe, which had the game and both expansions. In 2003, we got RollerCoaster Tycoon Gold, which seems to be mostly the same thing as Deluxe. I have the three-CD version of Gold right here, and it’s probably the retail version
of the game I’d recommend grabbing. It’s got a nice, embossed iridescent box and physical manuals for each game, so none of that digital PDF garbage. However, if you don’t mind PDF garbage, there’s also the DRM-free digital
release on It’s got everything in one 357 MB download and it’s only $5.99. Plus, it works great on even
the newest versions of Windows, so you don’t have to deal with any
weird CD checks or compatibility fixes. The game starts off with a
simple, little introduction image with some appropriate screams and coaster noises, [high-pitched screams] followed by creepy merry-go-round music and some amusement park
demonstrations in the background. The menu is extremely simple. All you can do is start a new game, load a previous one, play a tutorial or quit like a quitter. Going through the tutorial would be a
good idea if you are totally new to RCT or haven’t played Bullfrog’s Theme Park. However, you can just start a new game
and you’ll go through the same stuff, just without any messages
telling you exactly what to do. You have several tabs worth of content to play through, consisting of the main game, the expansion packs, and some extra scenarios that were
once available on the RCT website. To play the game, you’ll need to
choose a park or scenario to solve. Only a few are available at the beginning, but as you complete more packs,
you’ll unlock more parks to play. Choose your destiny and you’ll be taken to the destiny chosen, and provided with a list of objectives to meet. These range from things like having a
certain number of guests in your park, gaining a high enough park approval rating, or having a high enough park value. You’ll also be given some
deadline to complete these by, which provides an omnipresent
sense of urgency to the game. This is also the first time you’ll
be able to change any options, since only now is the options menu made available. It’s all useful stuff here, like sound options, temperature
and distance units, key bindings. Mmm, options. You can also change the screen resolution, but unfortunately it only goes up 1024×768, which looks a bit crappy on a widescreen LCD monitor. You can hack the original game to run in 1280×720 through a hex editor and it looks great, but I’ve yet to be able to find a way
to do that with this GOG release. The overall interface is almost exactly the same as in Transport Tycoon Deluxe. A bit strange, since that was a
DOS game from many years prior, but it works, I guess. I’m not a big fan of how
practically everything you open makes another separate window pop up on-screen. It just clutters up the play space and it’s very annoying to
have to open and close these whenever you want to finagle with some option, which is all the freaking time. Oh, well. That’s life. The entire point of RollerCoaster Tycoon is to solve the issues presented
to you in each amusement park. Sometimes you’ll start out with a pretty blank slate, other times you’ll have a pre-existing
set of rides and attractions to manage. But no matter what, you’ll need to
make the choices you need to make to transform your park into a machine
of entertainment awesomeness. First, you’ve got the landscape itself to deal with. Now this will vary in each scenario and since you only have a set
amount of land to work with, it is important that the layout of your park makes sense. You can edit the landscape somewhat with tools for altering slopes and manipulating water and flora, and due to the isometric graphics
and the tile-based system it uses, it’s quite simple to accomplish. But this is extremely expensive
and it gets even more expensive if you just want to buy new land to build on. So make wise choices when planning your park layout. Once you’ve gotten a basic idea
of where you want to place things, start placing things. First you’ll need pathways to allow
people to get to where you want them to. They won’t stray from these paths, so it’s a requirement that they are not
too convoluted for traffic to pass through There are several different types of paths
and you can even change the elevation of them, so you can make them look cool and
get creative with how pathways look. Of course, just judging by the name of the game, the main attractions you’ll
obviously have are roller coasters. You’ll only have one or two to start out with and you can choose to build pre-made
coasters that come with the game, or create your own coasters from scratch to use now or save them for later. It’s a very intuitive creation system and it’s one of the biggest draws of the game for me. Again, due to the tile-based isometric game engine, designing roller coasters is really
as simple as choosing your parts and placing them in a logical way in a circuit. This is just something you’ll need
to practice with, and once you get it, you’ll be able to allow a test run and get
some stats of your roller coaster’s intensity. The system used is very similar to
how Disney’s Coaster game works in the rating and evaluation system it uses. However, you do not have the
ability to ride the roller coasters. You can only watch them from an
overhead third-person perspective. Pretty lame, but also understandable. It really comes down to the
limitations of the game engine used. You also have the options to do some tweaking, like choosing the car types, what kind of launching system it will use, and even the color scheme for the tracks,
station and each individual train. Awesomely, there’s even an option to choose the music that plays when the ride is active, which really augments the game’s
amusement park atmosphere. There are only a few canned
musical ditties to choose from, but you can add two of your own custom songs as .WAV files if you want to. I recommend Gary Newman, personally. There’s just a little ’80s flair that
just fits into any theme park. [Gary Newman music] Finally, you’ll need to select an
entrance and an exit for the ride and make sure these connect to your pathways so people can cue up and leave
the roller coaster successfully. Then you can open the ride
and watch the money pour in. If it’s looking like a success, you may
be able to get away with increasing the amount it costs to ride the ride. You can determine this by taking a look at the thoughts of guests in the park. Yes, as a roller coaster tycoon, you have the incredible ability to read minds and amass them into handy-dandy
groups of similar thoughts. This is an absolutely invaluable resource that you’ll need to take advantage
of in order to design your park to its maximum efficiency and profitability. If people think your ride is an incredible deal, it’ll likely be in your interests
to raise the price a little bit. If rides are making people too sick, you may want to try and
tone down the intensity a bit or provide gentler rides as an alternative. If people are getting hungry,
place some food stalls around. If someone really needs to take a dump, be sure they have a restroom to use. And why not charge them a small fee because, hey, if someone’s gotta go, they gotta go. May as well make some profit while you’re at it. But not everyone can get to a restroom
as soon as they feel the need to burst, especially when it comes to losing one’s lunch. As a result, vomit is a fact of life in an amusement park, so you’ll need to make sure you’re properly staffed to handle all the spewed chunks. You have four types of staff to hire. Handymen are your men who prove to be very handy. They’ll mop up vomit, empty the trash cans, water the gardens and even mow the grass. Mechanics are there to tend to the rides, inspecting them every so often
and fixing them when they break. And, yes, they do break, and when they DO, if someone gets hurt… …well, it’s really funny, but other than that,
it’s actually pretty bad for your park because then it will have a stigma about being unsafe and you’ll lose lots of cash. Ugh, people dying. They’re so inconsiderate of your profit margin. Security guards are there to make sure
hooligans don’t take control of the park, smash benches and otherwise disturb the peace. And entertainers are those thankless individuals who dress up in animal costumes, act like certifiable doofuses, and creep out a notable percentage of children. Having enough of each of these guys is
crucial to keeping a park in that fine balance between pristine vacation spot and chaotic hellhole. You don’t only have roller coasters,
food stands and restrooms to place. You’ve got a whole list of rides and attractions to attract various types of guests. There are transportation rides
like monorails and chair lifts, gentle rides like ferris wheels,
haunted houses and bumper cars, water rides like boat hires and log flumes, and so-called thrill rides like swinging ships, go-karts and gravitrons. Every single one of these has customization options like, of course, color schemes
and different configurations, and even the option to name
the ride whatever you want. Ah, I love this option because naming rides something ironic, satirical or perverted is a great outlet for my childish creativity. You also have the option to name
your park anything you want, so it always amuses me that tons of people still come to visit “This Park Will Give You AIDS.” You can even place custom
scrolling signs around your park, which is an endless source of
amusement for someone as easily pleased by customizable useless things as I am. Of course, you only have so many things to build. Thankfully, there is a research system in place, so you’re constantly unlocking new
rides, decorations and upgrades. You also have some financing options to help purchase all of these goodies, although taking out loans should be a last resort. What does help is the option to whore out your name to spread the word of how awesome your park is. Providing coupons or ad
campaigns for set periods of time really helps bring in new people to your park. And with more people comes more money. Three cheers for capitalism! Eventually, you’ll reach your goal
and be scored on how well you did. You can continue playing the current park or just move on to the next one. Do this nearly a hundred times, and you’ll beat the game, I guess. Each park can take an hour or two to complete. That’s a lot of gameplay and holy crap, what addicting gameplay it is! There’s something about the atmosphere
of this game that is just amazing and it really sucks me in every time I sit down to play it. There’s no reason that managing an amusement park should be this darned amusing. The genius behind every aspect of this game is obvious as soon as you start playing. And the way each of the aspects
of the gameplay come together to form a perfect, symbiotic
circle of progression is fantastic. Outside of the Maxis Sim games, RollerCoaster Tycoon and the
other MicroProse Tycoon games are the best simulators I have played. They’re fun, cerebral, maddeningly addicting and full of just enough charm
so as not to make you sick. However, there are a few minor ticks
that make this one less than perfect. For one thing, where the balls is the sandbox mode? Oh, yeah. There is none. Its scenarios are nothing.
You can’t even make your own scenarios. Second, there’s the aforementioned clunky UI. Not only do the windows popping
up all over the place bother me, but the placement and removal of items in your park can be a real pain due to the way perspective works. And the fact that the right mouse
button not only scrolls the map, but doubles as the bulldozer. Yeah, so that means you have
no dedicated bulldozer tool. So mowing down a forest of trees to make
way for your monster coaster is a pain an a half. And even when you do have everything set up properly, there are no speed options to choose from. So you can’t speed up the gameplay, letting everything go to a crawl for a while instead. And finally, there are two sequels to the game, arguably improving on the formula in almost every way. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is probably one of my favorite
simulator games ever made because it takes everything from RCT 1 and 2 and improves it in nearly all the ways I wanted. For that simple reason alone, I’d recommend skipping over the first two games and just going right into the the third one. However, disregarding the superiority of the later games and the few little quirks that make this one annoying, the original is still a completely genius sim. I’d recommend it to anyone at all. Seriously, just grab RollerCoaster
Tycoon in whatever way you can and enjoy.

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