Ahh, theme parks. The smell of popcorn, the sound of children laughing, the fresh vomit painted on the side of the Tilt-a-Whirl. Nothing says ìsummerî like a wooden roller coaster and a ridiculously overpriced burger! I’ve always been a fan of theme parks; ever since my first visit as a tender 11-year-old, Iíve loved the adrenaline rush of a fast coaster or a hair-raising thrill ride. This love, combined with my love for simulator games, made RollerCoaster Tycoon an instant classic for me since it was first released for Microsoft Windows in 1999.
The original RollerCoaster Tycoon, by Hasbro Interactive, was created with a true theme park experience in mind – creator Chris Sawyer invited big names from the theme park industry to help in the development of the game. The success of the Windows version led to an eventual release on the Xbox in 2003. One of the more well-known titles in an ocean of simulator games, RollerCoaster Tycoon went on to release three more games in the main series, as well as six equally successful spinoffs – the most recent being RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures for the Nintendo Switch.
So where does this newest addition to the RollerCoaster Tycoon family stack up with its predecessors? Rated E for ìcomic mischiefî and released by Atari on December 13, 2018, RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures boasts three distinct game modes, over 120 buildable attractions, and four unique environments – all on the super portable Switch console.
I started with Adventure Mode. I was given the choice between four park locations – Flowery Forest, Inspiring Island, Marvelous Moon, and Calming Canyon – eventually settling on Inspiring Island, because in the middle of a Michigan winter, nothing sounds quite as nice as an island getaway! After the loading screen, I was presented with a nice, open plot of land. I quickly realized that this game is extremely similar to ones before it, save for some new graphics, new attractions, and the addition of two new modes. Since this was modelled after the mobile game RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch, the seamless integration of the touchscreen is a big bonus for me. I find myself going between the JoyCons and the touchscreen equally, while I usually forget that the touchscreen even exists with other Switch games. There is a very welcome fluidity to the camera work using both the JoyCons and the touchscreen; you can zoom in to see your park patrons, zoom out to see the land your park is on, and rotate the camera – all with the flick of a finger. Additionally, in RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventure, they’ve done away with the microtransactions of RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch. Since youíre paying full price for the game, everything is unlocked and you donít have to wait hours and hours for rides to be completed after research and purchase.
Once I established my park in Adventure Mode, it was time to see what Scenarios Mode was all about. There are sixteen unique scenarios to choose from, from ìFoodie Fairî (where food lovers from all over the world visit the park and itís your job to keep them happy) to ìLike Sardinesî (where you have a tiny plot of land and have to maximize your profit). These are super fun and easy to jump into at any time. I really enjoyed having these side missionsî when I wanted to take a break from my own park. Each scenario comes with a set list of goals to complete, which makes the game feel a little more purposeful.
Last, I checked out Sandbox Mode, which is exactly what it sounds like. Itís a blank canvas for the park of your dreams! All the rides, coasters, restaurants, and attractions are unlocked and money is no object. This is a pretty relaxing mode, and a nice opportunity to explore what wonders await you in the Adventure Mode one you unlock the rides by reaching higher levels and doing research. I spent a fair bit of time in Sandbox Mode, kind of getting lost in the creativity the game unleashed.
After all was said and done, I truly found RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventure to be an enjoyable experience. Of course, itís not without its flaws; a lot of the things that were put in the mobile game to make the game more accessible were taken to the Switch, which somehow dulls the experience a bit. For example, instead of having to manually call a janitor to mop up vomit or a maintenance man to fix a ride, they are automatically sent to the location based on the coverage of the respective building you placed. When you buy a maintenance building, for instance, a larger blue square appears underneath it; this is the ground that building will cover (similar to placing a decoration and having the surrounding area be affected positively by its appearance). I found myself missing the opportunity to move quickly on broken rides and piles of puke, something that I really enjoyed the challenge of keeping up within the original game. Additionally, I found that the larger my park got, the worse the frame rate got. Camera movements started to lag quite a bit, which was disappointing since the graphics and fluid camera movement at the beginning of the game was something I really appreciated.
I would definitely suggest RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventure to anyone who finds pleasure in the simplicity of building and maintaining a park; it has a lot of the things that made the original game great, along with new modes that make the game even more playable. Its simple gameplay and fun graphics make this the perfect title for a casual gamer or for someone who plays games with kids. I think the small kinks that came from the port to Switch are fairly easy to overlook in the long run. Itís a super family friendly title that is easy (and appropriate!) for all ages. The price point may seem steep to some, but I think itís well worth the money considering everything that is unlocked with your purchase; truly you are getting three games in one with the different modes. RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventure for Nintendo Switch is a fun, nostalgiac trip to the theme park of your dreams!
*Code kindly provided by the publisher for review*