This title was reviewed on the Nintendo Switch, where it is exclusively available to.
This review came at a rather fortuitous time for me. I’m not entirely sure why (who needs reasons?), but I was making fun of the boyfriend for his love affair with amusement park simulators. Seriously, they’ve been dating for longer than we have. I believe we’d just seen Parkitect pop up on Steam and I mentioned something (maliciously) about him always playing those games. To which he challenged me to name one. The only words rattling around in my otherwise empty skull were RollerCoaster Tycoon. That’s when I found out that this was, in fact, the only one that hadn’t graced his games library. The next day I get this review. Well played, gaming gods.
Speaking of gods.
I expect simulators like this to make me feel like a god. A sometimes benevolent god of the tiny world I build. I expect to be responsible for EVERYTHING that happens on the screen. Park goers should sing praises of thanks for every morsel I send their way. Temples should be built in my name. I should be able to crush those I deem unworthy. Every particle should be shaped by my hand, for ye, I am god unto all things. This is…not that game. Oh it’s fine. But if you’re looking for that real detail of control, this isn’t for you.
RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures is the Nintendo Switch edition of the old PC classic RollerCoaster Tycoon. It’s been given a new control scheme for the Switch and some updated graphics. Despite my sadness at not being a god (which, let’s face it, is my permanent disappointment with everything in life), it’s a pretty nice update of the old game. The graphics and UI both still feel like the old ones, but a bit more modern and with more options. The music and sounds still give you that original fun park feel and your roller coasters still have the custom or pre-build options. Apart from some new building and decorating options though, there’s not much change from the old Tycoon to the new. It’s all roughly the same.
While the gameplay isn’t quite shallow, as I said, you don’t really feel like a god. You feel… like a business person. One of those high level CEOs who are all about strategy, leaving the smaller stuff to other people. You have to build rides, attractions, food and drink stalls and service buildings to keep people coming to your park and keep them spending money. Rides degrade, so you need to either drop the cost or rebuild new ones to keep people happy to pay to go on the rides. Not for nothing, but if I had to pay to get into a fun park and then also pay to use any of the rides once in there, I’d throw a fit worthy of a fantasy princess. It’s all about getting bigger and better through research and investment. There’s a decent amount to build and there are tools to make it easier to see what’s happening when things get bigger. Like where money is being spent or how happy people are with certain rides. This by the way, is the bit that I found the most godlike. All that data. I want your dataz. That’s pretty much the core game loop.
I suppose most people get their joy in RollerCoaster Tycoon from building custom roller coasters. But after seeing what other modern incarnations of this genre have to offer, I tried and measured it and found it wanting. When talking to the boyfriend about it, he immediately started talking about needing to get the physics right in his current game. You definitely don’t have to worry about physics in RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures. Build your loops and rises and dips, but people who pay for roller coaster rides don’t want them to be too long. There’s min and max heights and you can only really move things so far. It’s… fine, I guess. But I was severely disappointed when I realised that my dream of building a roller coaster that went all the way around my park wouldn’t work. Godhood denied again.
As you’d expect from a game like this, there are several modes to choose to play in. You’ve got your basic adventure mode with something like a story for how you become a Tycoon of the fun park business, scenario modes with quests you need to complete in a certain amount of time and (the most fun) sandbox mode, where all the rides are there and the money doesn’t matter. Adventure mode was a fine way to get the hang of things, but I quickly found myself wanting to get to sandbox mode so I could just go crazy. None of the modes are bad though, it pretty much depends on what you feel like doing at the moment. Wanna relax? Head to sandbox. Want a small challenge? Get into that scenario.
While the updates of the game are welcome, the real downside of RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures is the platform. My theoretical heart hurts a bit to say this, most of the games I’ve seen ported to the Switch have had some serious advantages over their PC counterparts, but RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures runs like an absolute dog on the Switch. When you’re trying to move buildings and rides around the screen, especially once your park starts getting really big, the frame rate drops massively. Even at the best of times you’ll find yourself stuttering across the screen. Perhaps on a PC or one of the more powerful consoles, RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures might find some more power behind it, and smoothing out the experience is definitely something that’s needed. You can obviously still play, but that frame rate drop is very noticeable.
You also can’t take screenshots on the Switch. Lame. I had to find stock photos on the Nintendo website, which are what you can see here in this review. This is also where I noticed that these photos look a damn sight better than what I’ve been playing, so don’t play too close attention. I didn’t see this level of anti-aliasing. It didn’t look terrible, but it didn’t look as nice as these pictures suggest. Also, my park is way better than the one in these pictures.
Having said that, I did enjoy my playtime. Though this is definitely something you’ll want to play on the big screen. It does work somewhat on the small portable screen, but all those tiny buildings get lost on the small screen. Sitting on the couch using the large TV is where I found this game to be at it’s best.
If you liked the original RollerCoaster Tycoon or are looking for something to chill out with that doesn’t have much of a challenge (or if you’re completely new to these games) then this is a fine choice. I just really wish they’d let me do more, I can handle it, I swear.