Review by Betelgeuse

"Elephants and tigers and pandas, oh my!"

In this charming game created by Microprose, you are given a plot of land and are told to develop the best amusement of all time. At times, you must being entirely from scratch, other times you must revive a failing park, and in other scenarios you are given a park which is already booming. It is up to you and your imagination and creativity to see these parks through to success.

The visuals of RollerCoaster Tycoon are not amazing, but they are not so horrible that they will make your eyes begin to bleed. In fact, I find the graphics of the game to be right in line with the rest of the game. The graphics have a sort of playfulness about them easily ties in with the amusement park idea. The graphics are very basic, but there is truly no need for them to be anything more than they are. I personally do not believe that the game would be any more enjoyable if the graphics were updated. Call me old-fashioned, but I prefer games to have a bit of an unrefined look about them.

The music and sound effects of RollerCoaster Tycoon are pretty limited. Really the only music that you will hear throughout the game is that which is given off by Carousels and the Bumper Cars. The music here is repetitive and there are only two tunes that can be played. The other sound effects also are quite repetitious. The sounds of the people speaking will start to sound very familiar very fast, because there is such a short track of the crowd noise. However, if you learn to let that noise fade into the background, you will barely notice how you hear the same things.

When you start the game, you will be limited in what rides you can put into your park. Generally, you will be given a couple of gentle or thrilling rides to work with. You can determine how hard you want your development team to work depending on how much funding you give them. Along with the funding you give to the development team, you can also specify types of things you want them to be working on. From what you tell them to make for you, you will randomly be given new rides/attractions every couple of weeks. Note that time passes extremely quickly. There is no nighttime, and there are no winter months.

As your park expands and becomes more popular, people will begin to spend more and more time there. As such, they will request certain things from you. You can see the comments of your guests in a special tab devoted to just that. If there are a multitude of people who are commenting that they are hungry or thirsty, you must make sure to build food and drink stalls. Otherwise, the guests will be dissatisfied and will not spend very much more time in your park. After drinking and eating, your guests will be in sore need of bathrooms. Bathrooms, while alleviating the obvious issues that accompany the intake of food, also serve to relieve the intense feelings of nausea that you inflict upon your guests from you massive rollercoasters. One other way exists for relieving nausea and that is the careful placement of benches near the exits of rides with high intensity. It is generally good to have benches throughout the park, but they are especially important near exits and food and drink stalls. After getting food and drink many guests like to sit down while they enjoy their purchases. And of course where there is food, there is waste. Be absolutely to put trashcans everywhere in your park. The last thing you want is garbage on the ground bringing you park value down. Finally guests have a tendency to get lost, so kiosks are important to have near the entrances to your park. Here, they can purchase park maps which will help them get to their favorite rides in a timely fashion so they can pump more money into your account.

Perhaps the most important factor of the game is the finances. Without money, you cannot do much at all except wait for more to roll in. It is possible to fall deeply into debt if you don't plan well and know when and when not to spend. You will be supported by the admittance fees required to gain entry into the park. Additionally, you can set a price for every single ride, shop, stall, and bathroom. If even all this money is not enough, you are allowed to borrow up to ten thousand from the bank, though doing so will drop your park value.

There are many values and ratings that go into making the park what it is. The Park Value is how much the park is worth in dollars. The most important aspects of Park Value are the rides and how much money you make off of them. Park Rating demonstrates the quality of your park. Keeping your park clean and tidy and making sure the layout is simple makes the rating rise. Scenery can make any park both more beautiful and more valuable. Pretty plants and statues can provide massive bonuses to your park's value and the park's rating. Like the park itself, all rides also have ratings. The intensity rating is the measure of the thrill that you get from riding it. The nausea rating shows how likely you are to throw up afterwards.

Keeping the park in running order is more than a one person job, so you must hire a staff to keep the park working. Handymen clean up vomit and trash, and they clean out the garbage cans, and they mow the lawns. Mechanics make sure the rides don't break down, and if they do, they repair them. Security guards are there to make sure unhappy guests don't go around wrecking the joint with vandalism. And entertainers, dressed as elephants and tigers and pandas, exist solely to keep guests happy, particularly as they wait in tremendously long lines.

RollerCoaster Tycoon is truly one of the best simulation games out there. The challenge of the game is very high, but not so unrealistically difficult that it will make you give up after a week. Rather, RollerCoaster Tycoon is so very addictive that you will probably replay several of the scenarios after you've already beaten them. If you have played some of Chris Sawyer's other tycoon games, but have passed this title up, then you are missing the greatest game he has ever been responsible for.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 04/10/07

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