RollerCoaster Tycoon was one of the most impactful game releases of the late 90's. Building upon previous successes of Chris Sawyer including Elite and Transport Tycoon, it looked to offer the world's first virtual hands-on experience with building theme parks, with an emphasis on rollercoaster design. It would quickly become a top-seller prompting multiple subsequent sequels. Although it has since faded into obscurity, the original two games still hold a special place in the hearts of many.
Looking to rekindle the fire built more than 17 years ago, Atari has released RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic, a compilation of both the original RollerCoaster Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2. It's arrived on iOS and Android with very little press, but those who have given it a chance have learned that it's not just another PC to mobile port.
I was initially skeptical about even trying out RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic given bad experiences with other ports, including the likes of some Final Fantasy games. More than anything I was afraid that what I'd play would tarnish my memories of the franchise. I spent hundreds of hours playing both of these games, to a point where I became consumed by rollercoaster culture. While I would soon move on to The Sims where I found a similarly addictive escape from reality, RollerCoaster Tycoon is one of my favorite games of all-time, and I intend to keep it that way.
However, after just a few minutes of playing I learned that my skepticism was unfounded. RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic is very true to the spirit of the originals in its delivery. Initial boot-up quickly leads to nostalgia as the memorable soundtrack of the series kicks into play. My personal favorite themes including Title Screen, Fantasy, and Merry-Go-Round 1 were playing to my eardrums within just a couple minutes, which set a great tone as I marveled at the attractive and untampered visual style of the game.
But the visuals and sounds are just a backdrop to the main reasons why I've enjoyed the port so much. Many of the original scenarios (a total of 95) of both games are included in their entirety. The moment I loaded into some of these levels I could remember building specific rides back in late 1999 to 2001. I first attempted to recreate a Six Flags Magic Mountain Viper-esque ride with great results, later moving onto more complicated standing and flying style coasters. The nostalgic feelings continued.
Interacting with the game is functional although less than optimal. As with any mobile game, the major perk here is accessibility—how else are you going to play RollerCoaster Tycoon at Macy's? Menu elements aren't too much of a hassle to deal with, although selection of assets can be unwieldy at times when there's visual clutter. Really, I would recommend playing this on a tablet if you have one for the extra screen space, but it isn't required.
The number one reason beyond nostalgia that I've enjoyed RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic is that it's simple fun. These might be 15+ year old games, but their formula is timeless. Sure, there are some modern amenities that simply weren't incorporated into these games—most notably multiplayer and a more powerful editing toolkit—but what's here works, and it requires very little investment to get a lot out of.
I'm not usually one to spend a lot of time on mobile games, but RollerCoaster Tycoon is an exception. What's here is great for short spurts of creativity, with quick saving available on the fly. It serves as a great sandbox for messing around, whether you're making a death park, or simply trying to make a cool rollercoaster that attracts more visitors to your park.
Put simply, RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic is worth your time if you're a fan of the original games and are willing to deal with playing them on a smaller screen. Now excuse me while I get back to giving my park attendees a reason to vomit.