Blast from the Past: RollerCoaster Tycoon (PC)

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Simulation games are enticing for a reason – you are the mastermind of creation and command the puppet strings. Whether things go awry or run smoothly falls into the palm of your hand. Well, for the most part. RollerCoaster Tycoon, developed by Chris Sawyer Productions, is no exception. Molding an amusement park by purchasing stimulating rides and inventively placing appealing scenery is half the fun. Managing it in the process, however, is where things get a little tricky.

Though engulfed in glee and colorful environments, RollerCoaster Tycoon is not a walk in the park – metaphorically, of course. Three diverse parks are unlocked from the get-go. Accompanied by each park is a specific goal that absolutely has to be met by a given year -– whether the objective is attracting a set amount of guests or reaching a respectable park value or rating, the responsibility rests on your shoulders. Sure, attaining such success isn’t too difficult at first. Maintaining the park as a whole, on the other hand, is quite a conundrum. Its condition can deteriorate in seconds and your hopes and dreams will follow suit.

Remember that guest count you were supposed to get by year three? Sorry to burst your bubble, but no one particularly enjoys an amusement park where the vandalism rate runs high and guest vomit paints the pathways. Um, gross. Wisely investing in a considerable amount of handymen, security guards, mechanics, and even entertainers perks up that park rating that drooped so low. Editing their tasks and keeping them restrained to a particular area is optional, too. You know, in case there’s a high-intensity ride resulting in immediate guest nausea. It’s better to be safe than sorry.

As more parks are unlocked and your mastery skills as a rollercoaster god flourish, placing rides and food stands won’t grant you with eternal happiness, but rather a tinge of frustration. Challenges arise often and typically don’t diminish. Some parks come fully geared with attractions while others are vacant. Not to mention a map titled “Dinky Park,” which offers very limited space. Fashion that thinking cap and muster up some innovative ideas. Otherwise, failure is just around the corner and the only way to unlock bigger and better things is to prosper onward. Of course, continuing running a failed or conquered park is optional. Sometimes it’s easy to get attached to something you spent so much time and effort on, you know?

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Just like everyday life, money unfortunately doesn’t grow on trees in RollerCoaster Tycoon and rides aren’t exactly cheap to build either. Not to mention the actuality of losing money by deleting trees to expand your park. “Go Green” is obviously relevant and though the loss isn’t huge, it’s still a pain in the butt. Cranking up the entrance fee may momentarily boost your income, but only until the guests stop visiting your park because it’s not worth their hard earned money.

Advertising your creation via coupons or marketing campaigns boosts guest cheerfulness and lures them to your park, but they’re an investment as well. Luckily, borrowing money from the bank is very elementary. Some parks allow it; others love to see you fail.  Either way, it’s best to be as economical as possible starting out rather than finding yourself in a bankrupt situation later. Ah, the joys of running an amusement park.

Though your park may be occupied by over a thousand guests doesn’t actually mean they’re all actually walking on sunshine. Guest thoughts generate based on the cleanliness of your park, crowdedness, intensity of rides, and other random aspects that mold your amusement park into everything you’ve imagined it to be. Grouping their thoughts determines what needs to be renovated or rather what aspects of your park are most alluring. You’d be surprised what a beautiful garden embraced by scenic water fountains can do for your park. Spruce up the environment or embellish your rides a bit – it makes all the difference.

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There’s something magically evil about simulation games. I haven’t stumbled across one yet that hasn’t allowed me to tap into my dark side, even if just a little. Sometimes there’s just that one pesky guest that gets under your skin. RollerCoaster Tycoon allows players to transport guests like a claw machine, but with complete control. With this handy revelation, guests can be placed practically anywhere within the park’s boundaries – even in open water. Guests cannot swim and will drown, but no one typically notices.

If a rollercoaster crashes, on the other hand, a handful of guests meet their demise and the park rating drops a substantial amount. Yikes. If custom rollercoasters aren’t being tested before they open (or if your mind is just that twisted), you’ll most likely experience a collision or wreckage of some sort. Good luck attracting guests back into your fatal park – might as well demolish that rollercoaster while you’re at it, too.

RollerCoaster Tycoon will forever be a simulation game that’ll reek nostalgia. A challenge always presents itself and dull moments rarely make an appearance when managing your very own amusement park. The bumps encountered along the road only entice the experience as a whole and shape you into a more knowledgeable park manager. All you have to do is pay attention and enjoy the ride.

Published by Amanda Bower

Amanda has adored the video game industry since she battled through countless battles with Doctor Robotnik in Sonic the Hedgehog. She spends a majority of her time with her gaming computer, otherwise you can find her devouring pizza and watching Shrek.