By Alexander Bonilla
Oh, Roller Coaster Tycoon. I’ve so many fond memories of you. Building awesome roller coasters, making cool areas, messing with park guests when they’re being jerks, blowing up rides for kicks. Oh, don’t pretend you’ve never done it!
Roller Coaster Tycoon is the first simulation game I had ever played growing up. The main objective of the game is to create the most kick-ass theme park you can with whatever limitations the level gives you. Sometimes you need to get a certain park rating within a time limit; sometimes you just need to double your investment, and sometimes you need to have a ton of awesome roller coasters. The last time I picked this game up, I was probably still in high school (roughly six years ago), so I figured that I remembered most of the kinks to this game and can beat it no sweat. This was way more challenging than I remember. I constantly had to keep moving from one location to another just to make sure the rides were fine, the paths were clean, the vandalism was low, etc. and often I would just barely make the deadline of the goal I was going for. I actually had a lot of fun managing everything and making sure that the overall guest population is happy with the park.
Then, once the goal is achieved (or you can just ignore the goal altogether), you can just relax and watch your park grow. And then if you wait long enough, the sadistic part of you that has the most fun in GTA comes out and will do anything and everything to mess with the customers. You can put them into death traps, make little cages that they’re too stupid to escape from, make a “Do Not Enter” sign at the exit of the park, so they’re trapped forever, and so on. I think just about everyone I’ve met who has played this game has done something like that through at least one play through. And just like any sandbox game, it’s one of the most fun aspects of it.
For the most part, the gameplay is fun, but after playing many other games, the controls for this game feels a bit strange at first. My hands naturally want to press certain buttons, but they have different roles in this, so it had a short learning curve to it. The graphics have not aged well since the people just look like slightly more detailed stick figures and text everywhere in the park is pixelated. They were great 3D graphics for the time, but nowadays, they are prettier games out there. Both of these problems feel a bit nitpicky, so unless you’re really stingy about what your games look like or control schemes, it’s a really great game that has aged… decently. You can get it for about $6 on Steam, or a physical copy can be around $10. If you like simulation games, this is a great one to check out.