Review by antseezee

"The real way of managing a theme park."

So many games have been based on simulating various topics, that often, the word ''Sim'' becomes a well known prefix. Unlike other games which focus on building a city, or developing a planet, Rollercoaster Tycoon is a game based strictly on developing your own theme park. Don't let the title fool you. This is one of the most fun filled games that provides a great hybrid combination of managing a theme park, while being able to build exciting rides. Rollercoaster Tycoon is not your basic game designed on building just rollercoasters. Normal rides like merry-go-rounds, monorails, and tourist attractions are a common site. Maybe you're looking for a thrilling ride? Perhaps the swinging boat, or go karts will capture your attention? If those aren't exciting for you enough, then you can ride the biggest, and boldest rollercoasters in the park. This is the basic storyline of Rollercoaster Tycoon. Each mission has objectives that must be attained, and in the process, you must develop a well-planned theme park that will provide excitement, entertainment, and satisfaction to all your visitors. Prepare for the ride of a lifetime.

Graphics [8/10]
To get you started, a majority of the graphics in Rollercoaster Tycoon are minute, yet large enough to notice detailing. The game is played mainly from an isometric view, similar to that of an elevated diagonal camera. You practically look down on the entire park, but from an angle which shows some very unique things. If something's in the way, you can shift the view clockwise to help you see better. The game is basically a 3D environment, although most of the in-game graphics are 2D sprites that simulate the 3D-like look. Every visitor, worker, and ride in your park is small, sort of like Micro Machines from a human perspective. Visitors trot along like little pogo sticks, and most of your rides have distinguishing features. The detail is what makes the game so appealing to the eyes. From the second you view your park entrance, you'll understand what I mean. Scenery objects such as trees, bushes, shrubs, fencing, light poles, garbage cans, and even themed objects literally fill each map. Not only that, but the actual in-game levels are composed of real ground.

Since the game is played from an isometric view, you can shift the ground into different angles. Maybe you need to lower the ground a few feet to build a roller coaster, well that's exactly what you can do. Each environment fits realistically to the scenario, such as an archipelago of islands, or a condensed forest. Puke from a person's body, cotton candy, and even umbrellas are visible based on the situation at hand. Animations are extremely good. Often, you can see visitors checking their watches, or smoothly enjoy your exciting rollercoasters. The cartoonish appearance takes away from the realism, but realistic proportions is what makes Rollercoaster Tycoon an appealing game. Of course, pixilated graphics are a somewhat common site, since the game is mainly designed from sprites and what not. While framerate slowdowns are slightly rare, they will occur if you have hundreds of people on a map on several rides. But by far, the interface is overwhelmingly organized, that even the most obsessive-compulsive gamers will enjoy its appearance. For the somewhat outdated graphics from 1999, Hasbro did a brilliant job in altering them to fit the game's style.

Sound/Music [7/10]
The first feature that most people hear when they enter an entertainment park is noise - plenty of it. Not only does Rollercoaster Tycoon do an excellent job at emulating it, but it does it with perfection. The sound effects in the game are so well detailed for each type of ride, that eventually you can become accustomed to a certain ride based on the sounds alone. For example, when you build a Merry-Go-Round, you can hear the patronizing circus music in the distance. As you scroll closer and closer with the mouse, the sound gets louder and louder. Depth perception on the sound effects is great as it scrolls from speaker to speaker with ease. Your visitors make plenty of noise. Whether it be the screams of going on a joyful rollercoaster ride, or flushing the toilets in your bathroom stalls. For once, the environment seems like a true, and real theme park.

Music is somewhat prevalent in Rollercoaster Tycoon, but not to the extent that most gamers would appreciate. Most of the in-game music is simply that of circus music, or carnival sounds. There really isn't any inspiring songs that will make you howl in the distance. For the most part, you're going to hear your basic entertainment music that most mini-games would play. While it sets well for the building and development of your own theme park, it doesn't always mix together at the best pace. You will not be disappointed from either of these departments.

Gameplay [10/10]
This is what sets Rollercoaster Tycoon apart from your typical strategy or simulation game. The gameplay is absolutely close to perfection. The goal is to slowly develop a theme park that provides an entertaining experience to visitors, WHILE being able to manage a positive cash flow. This seems easy at first, but everything costs a price in Rollercoaster Tycoon. To start off, your basic gameplay consists of a toolbar at the top of the screen, with your view visible filling most of the screen. Each map usually has objectives which must completed. Sometimes you need so many visitors in the park by a certain month, and a park rating above a certain number. Anyhow, most maps will start you off with a designated lot of land, or some rides partially built. You can do numerous things to the environment. First, you can level, abolish previous structure/scenery, and add water to most maps. Secondly, you can build rides, which are separated into different categories. The idea of the game is to build an organized theme park complete with a navigable traveling system that lets you juice the most money out of each visitor.

Building a certain ride, such as a simple haunted house, or tour train costs a low price. However, you're more exciting rides can be expensive (in the thousands), and require some innovation. Rollercoaster Tycoon allows you to customize certain rides, by building them track by track. Not only can you elevate tracks, but you can have them weave in and out, place braking/elevation meters, and even make insane drops. Each ride can be designated as a certain price, including your theme park's entry fee. Not only that, but if you get low on money, you can take out loans to compensate, and give you a headstart. Of course, paying back loans is a must since interest will bite you in the butt after a couple years. Rollercoaster Tycoon takes the innovation of other strategy games, and lets you customize every aspect of your park. Maybe you want cheap hot dogs, then set the price. Increasing funding towards your research will bring out bigger, and better improvements. You can even send out advertising campaigns if the situation gets desperate.

Rollercoaster Tycoon takes the fun aspects of gaming, and combines them into a strategy genre. No longer are we focusing on simple cities to control, but rather we are the people entertaining visitors. It's our duty to provide a wide range of rides, for the exciting and dull people of the world. Plus, financial responsibilities come into play. Paying off previous debts, and earning a gross profit is important to the success of your theme park. There's so much you can do. The game has extended options such as being able to read people's feedback of your park, and you even have to hire handymen, mechanics, security guards, and entertainers to keep your park in order. If machines don't get inspected at a normal basis, often they'll break down, and require repairs.

Fun [9/10]
While you are the sole owner and responsible manager of the park, it seems like the average gamer has more fun entertaining other people. Building your own complex rollercoaster with huge drops can cause heart-attack symptoms. Every single detail and pricing can make a difference between a profit, and a loss. This is by far the closest you can get to pure and controllable management of your own entertainment center. Not only that, but with complex, and gradually progressive difficult scenarios, the fun becomes even greater. Some maps will start you out with jaw-dropping rollercoasters that only extend the amount of potential in the park. Extra land can be purchased on certain maps, which can help expand your park. Even upgrades and improvements like reinforced steel rollercoasters can go to higher heights, which means better ride ratings. This is one of the more fun strategy games out there that also combines good humor in the process.

Replayability [7/10]
Unfortunately, the gameplay modes in Rollercoaster Tycoon are simply limited to single player. Besides that, you can only play off of the scenarios that the game provides. While there are some expansion packs, that's a whole different story. Creating your own rollercoaster designs, and figuring out new ways of expanding your park can always bring you back for some more gameplay. The biggest factor that makes Rollercoaster Tycoon an addicting game is the amount of time you have to dedicate. Some maps can take up to excess of two hours to complete, which is both an advantage and disadvantage for the gamer. Some people who are time stricken may not find this to be their breakfast deluxe of the day. Others will have a field trip with this one. However, the lack of extra game modes or free building mode takes a bite out of how much you can expand the game to cover.

Difficulty [5/10]
Most of your levels in Rollercoaster Tycoon each have different themes. One may be based in the desert with plenty of expansive space, while others will have beautiful layouts complete with trees, water, and flower gardens. Of course, the environment is the biggest deterrent in how well you can build a park. Knocking down trees is a constant activity, and managing your finances is crucial in the beginning part of the game. Stages will progressively get harder as you beat each one. Rides will break down if you don't have enough mechanics making regular inspections. Parks can get polluted with garbage and barf spammed everywhere on the ground. Your ability to manage a park really comes down to the dedication you're willing to put into the game. Just about any person could beat the entire game as long as they stay focused, and have the free time to manage a park for a solid two hours.

Final Factor [8/10]
Even in the modern library of games, Rollercoaster Tycoon is an addicting and innovative classic. Rarely do we see strategy games that combine such entertaining aspects ranging from pricing, to enjoyment on rides. There are tons of statistics you can examine. Maybe a rollercoaster isn't exciting enough; then maybe you need to tune it up. The entire game focuses on how well you can improve the weak points of your park. Rollercoaster Tycoon will provide you with plenty of enjoyable gaming hours, but not everyone will enjoy it to a full extent. People who lack the time and dedication to manage a park in full detail will probably find this game too laborious. This would make an excellent addition to anyone's collection, even someone just looking for a chance of pace. If you see it anywhere, try to buy it. You're going to have fun watching the poor visitors go into loop upon loop.

Reviewer's Rating:   4.0 - Great

Originally Posted: 07/30/03, Updated 07/30/03

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