Roller Coaster Tycoon 3
With everything being an electronic download nowadays, rarely do I ever need to keep CDs at my desk. “Roller Coaster Tycoon 3” is the exception to the rule, as even after being out for a little under ten years, I still find myself spending hours at a time with it. “Roller Coaster Tycoon” was the first simulator I had ever played, and I’ll even go as far as to say that it introduced me to the entire genre. As a kid, I couldn’t get enough of it. As an adult, I still can’t. As you may have already guessed, “Roller Coaster Tycoon 3” tasks you with creating a theme park. You’ll have to manage rides, staff, customers, the works. It’s worth noting that I have the core game and the two expansions, so I’ll be touching on all three here.
The main menu is a lot to take in at once, just like the game itself. There are menus within menus within menus, but they all have an important function. The tools menu allows you to create virtual families via the peep designer, who then show up at the park you’re messing with as you’re playing. You can follow them around and see what they’re doing, just like any other customer that walks through your gates. The scenario editor takes some getting used to and there’s no hand-holding here. It will allow you to customize your experience, set park parameters / size, assign goals and their rewards, how much bank interest is, and more. There’s a separate coaster and building designer, should you just feel the need to be creative. The play menu allows you to play from premade scenarios or any of the custom ones that you’ve made. The options menu is fairly basic, with the screen resolution going as high as 1280 x 960, but what do you expect from a game released almost ten years ago?
Firstly, I’d like to point out that there are a TON of rides, buildings, and scenery items to mess around with. Most are part of a particular theme, so you can even create “sci-fi” or “western” themed parks with ease. There are filters for just about everything, so finding the rides you’re looking for are extremely easy. The rides themselves are separated by category, some being more gentle while others giving serious riders a run for their money. Each ride has an excitement, thrill, and nausea rating associated with it, which will cater to the different riders that enter your park. You can also customize things like color, number of cards, and more, depending on the ride itself and what options it carries with it. In most cases, you can enter the ride and experience it in first person (or third person) view.
Like its predecessors, you’ll have to throw money into research if you want to unlock new content. This is assuming, of course, that you haven’t set everything to be unlocked from the get go using the custom scenario editor. Staff wages and training play an important part in your financial bottom line, as does maintenance costs and loan interest. If you’re not careful, your park could take a turn for the worse before it even gets started. Luckily, you can customize the park entrance fee as well as set ticket prices for individual rides. The reports you can view do a fairly good job in summing everything up, though you can view more in-depth reports to see the particulars. My only gripe is that some of the financial options and reports are dictated in weeks, while others are represented in months.
The first expansion, “Soaked!”, allows the player to build swimming pools and water rides. This, in my opinion, is a great addition to the base game. It can be frustrating at times for the uninitiated, especially when trying to connect water rides to the main pool. I had to play around with the rides for a while before I realized that you had to connect the ride and the pool with “paths” which can be accessed through the pool build menu. A lot of the items are cosmetic in nature, but up the value of the pool and give it its own flavor. You can even customize the wave pool generators to create different size waves at varying frequency. The second expansion, “Wild!”, allows the player to build zoo pens and fill them with various animals. This was a mediocre addition to the base game and not really something I find necessary. “Zoo Tycoon” offers so much more, but it’s a cool feature at any rate. The core game and its two expansions are available under the “Platinum” package, should you be interested. “Gold” includes “Soaked!”, but not “Wild!”.
Customization is my favorite feature of this particular game, as it allows me to adjust almost anything my little heart desires. The sheer amount of options available to the user is more than enough to satisfy, despite the bugs and glitches that have been known to occur from time to time. The day and night cycle is interesting, as it allows the game to show off lights and firework displays…yes, you can customize those too. To sum this up, “Roller Coaster Tycoon 3” is a no-brainer, through and through. Every simulator buff should have a copy in their collection. It still works on my Windows 7 Asus laptop, though night cycles tend to slow the game down considerably. I’ve fixed this by creating a scenario and adjusting the day cycles to include only those hours that see sunlight. Overall, it’s an excellent game and is among my all-time favorites. It’s relatively cheap now, so grab it while you can…you won’t be disappointed.
Final Verdict: 9/10
You can view video play sessions here: