|For as long as I've been
playing PC games, I've enjoyed those that provide an experience you simply
can't get anywhere else. I've especially enjoyed
the games that make up the "God game" genre, like Civilization and
Sim City. So, it comes as little surprise that I'd be interested in a game
like RollerCoaster Tycoon.
Although not really a "God game," you
are in charge of all operations of an amusement park. Sound like 1995's Theme
Park? Well, it is, but it's a
lot more detailed and a lot more realistic. It also places a lot more emphasis
on designing and building your own rides and attractions, rather than competing
with other parks or selling stock.
The game moves through different scenarios which ask you to complete certain
goals to move on to the next. The first, for instance, asks you to take a park
called Forest Frontiers through one year of operation and finish with 250 guests
and $10,000 in cash. (You can also complete a tutorial on how to play the game
in order to skip this first scenario.) Each progressive scenario ups the ante
by increasing the number of guests required, the approval rating your park
must receive and the amount of cash you must have on hand.
Each scenario also allows different types of rides, depending on your park's
surroundings. In some scenarios, such as the rainy Katie's World, you must
provide a lot of indoor attractions to keep your approval rating high. In the
desert setting of Dynamite Dunes, you might want to sell ice cream at a higher
price than you would in a cooler climate.
The real fun of RollerCoaster
Tycoon isn't really found in the financial aspects
of the game, it's in the building and upkeep of your park. Aside from building
the rides (or designing the them from scratch), you have to hire handymen,
mechanics, security guards and entertainers. You also have to build snack bars,
information kiosks, bathrooms and provide adequate staffing to keep the guests
the guests is a lot of fun too. Thanks to the detailed graphics, you can
watch them eat, vomit, read maps and complain about
things. If your guests enjoy a ride, they'll jump for joy as they exit. You
have to keep an eye on their comments to find out what you're doing right as
well as what you can improve on. Does a ride cost too much? Is a rollercoaster
too intense? The guests will tell you and it's up to you to act on their suggestions
to keep them happy.
Aside from keeping the guests happy, you'll have to watch out for broken rides,
vandals, and poor park design (i.e. paths that don't go anywhere, etc.) You
can even name each ride and watch as the name is displayed on a scrolling banner
above its entrance. There's a lot to do but, thankfully, the game is so well
designed, it's fun to do it all.
The game is controlled through a series of pull down menus and mouse commands.
The park is designed in a grid-like manner, so adding an attraction is as simple
as picking it and placing it on the grid. The game's biggest flaw is that sometimes
during the design of a ride, it can get a bit tricky finding a way to line
the tracks up right. This isn't a major flaw, just a frustrating one that takes
a little getting used to. Other than that, the game's fairly intuitive and
The graphics, while not top-of-the-line 3D, are detailed and downright charming
in their intricacy. The guests double over as they puke, the entertainers dance
in that dopey costumed character manner we all hate, as well as many other
nice touches. The game allows you to single out guests and employees and watch
them in a window of their own, so it's easy to keep track of what everyone's
doing. The game plays equally as well in 640x480, 800x600, or 1024x768 resolution.
The game's sound and music do a good job of providing an amusement park atmosphere.
As you move around the park, you'll hear your guests as they mill about the
park, the roar of the rollercoasters, and the music from the merry-go-round.
Aside from the occasional cough of someone throwing up, there isn't a lot in
the way of sound effects. However, what is present is detailed and life-like.
Tycoon, with all of its details, goals and customizable attractions,
might sound like a game too daunting to be tackled by anyone. However, nothing
could be further from the truth. It's addictive, easy-to-play and, most importantly,
a LOT of fun.
With all the recent hoopla about how violent videogames are, RollerCoaster
Tycoon provides a welcome alternative. It's family safe, non-violent and still
manages to be adult enough without being too simple or kiddified. If it weren't
for the minor control flaws, it'd be damn near perfect.
Tycoon is my pick, so far, for PC game of the year.
System Requirements: Pentium 90 (200 MMX Recommended), 16 MB RAM minimum (32
preferred), Windows 9x, 1 MB SVGA card (2 MB SVGA recommended), DirectX 5.0
(included), 4X CD-ROM drive (8X recommended), and 50 MB of disk space.
Tested on a: Intel Pentium II 233, 32 MB RAM, 32X CD-ROM, 4 MB AGP video card,
DirectX 6.1, AW35 PnP soundcard, Logitech MouseMan, and Windows 98.