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RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Review

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On 01/17/2019 at 12:00 PM by Nick DiMola

Though more streamlined, this 20 year old franchise had a better showing with its first release.

Die hard fans should wait on a sale. The simpler implementation might also make it more palatable to kids than adults.

I suspect many, like myself, spent long stints in front of their Pentium II PCs constructing a wide variety of amazing theme parks and complex coasters in RollerCoaster Tycoon. Between the base game and its expansions, I clocked countless hours completing scenarios and building all manner of parks, maximizing profits and occasionally, constructing complex death machines for fun. Some of what made the original experience so great finds its way into RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures on the Switch, but it seems that a good bit of the experience has been streamlined and simplified to make it more accessible on the platform. This makes it a less compelling iteration of the series that’s outshined by even the original release.

Adventures offers three different modes to enable all of your theme park building - Scenario, Sandbox, and Adventure. Like other games in the series, the most interesting mode is Scenario. Here you’ll be given a park that’s partially set up and you have to take over the day-to-day operations and continue building it out to reach a set of win conditions. While the scenarios and win conditions vary, you'll generally approach each park with the same strategies.

Setting up a steady stream of income is usually top priority as it will fuel the ability to grow. Out of the gate, your park will attract visitors and it’s up to you to decide how you charge them. You can choose to make the entrance to the park free and attach a fee to the rides, or vice versa, charging only a fee for admission. Even a meticulous combination of the two can be accomplished to help maximize satisfaction and other park ratings.

Once you have a steady flow of cash, adding more rides, attractions, decorations, shops, entertainers, and restaurants will increase the value of the park and customer satisfaction, further driving your ability to earn money. You can use a portion of the money to perform research and in turn continue earning more money to build and research more. Cleanliness is another rating that you'll want to keep an eye on. As such placing janitorial buildings strategically around the park, along with things like bathrooms and maintenance shops will allow the entire park to progress smoothly.

This is one of the first subtle changes to the formula and one of my issues with this latest iteration. Instead of managing a staff that you can move around the park, you're just ensuring that the necessary buildings completely cover the map. It makes the experience less hands on and eliminates your ability to quickly tend to issues by moving your staff to key locations during problems.

Line queues are also gone, so you can’t even do things to make sure that lines are appropriately long for the more interesting rides. You’re merely putting all of these attractions into the park and doing very little else. Even managing the terrain has been made simpler, forcing the entire park to be built on a totally flat platform. While you can totally customize the coasters you build, there's a part of me that misses placing them on really cool terrain with complex footpaths to reach the ride and better set the mood of the area that holds the ride.

Instead, you're able to place decorations around rides to achive a better decoration rating, which has an impact on how much patrons are enjoying the park. It's a poor substitute and makes the customization of the park feel very cookie cutter as you're extremely limited in exactly how things look.

So while it can be fun to accomplish the scenarios at hand, each park ends up looking pretty similarly because the construction options are so limited. Those who'd rather just enjoy the game without a strict challenge and try their damndest to make it not look so generic can fiddle with Sandbox mode. Here you'll have unlimited access to the tools and park equipment to build out the ultimate theme park without limitations. Adventure mode also provides a blank slate park, but here you must build up with all of the constraints around money and research and park permit levels. With no goals to satisfy, it might grow stale for some, but it also still provides the core gameplay loop which the Sandbox mode loses by offering everything to you.

That said, I found almost all the modes to wear thin fairly quickly due to so much being stripped out of the original experience to make it both simpler and more adaptable to the Switch. And despite the content cuts for usability, performance is considerably lacking. The game has a tendency to frequently chug, especially when pulling up an expansive coaster or drawing a heat map. Load times are also significant, which doesn’t lend well to jumping in and out of parks.

One of the more frustrating parts of the user interface are centered around using the aforementioned heat maps. While they provide the data you need about park satisfaction and earnings, you can’t action on any of it unless you back all the way out to the selection tool. While I do find it pretty incredible that the team at Nvizzio was able to so successfully convert the controls to the Switch, they’re still not quite all the way there, and naturally, when stacked head-to-head with the PC, they fall laughably short.

While I do think there’s an audience for RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures, I’m not quite sure it overlaps much with existing fans. It does still scratch that simulation itch, but it’s a shadow of its former self. I did have some fun with the Scenario mode in particular, but it generally just left me pining for some time with the original entries. If you’re still considering a purchase, I’d strongly suggest waiting on a sale to get your RollerCoaster Tycoon fix on-the-go.

Review Policy

In our reviews, we'll try not to bore you with minutiae of a game. Instead, we'll outline what makes the game good or bad, and focus on telling you whether or not it is worth your time as opposed to what button makes you jump.

We use a five-star rating system with intervals of .5. Below is an outline of what each score generally means:

All games that receive this score are standout games in their genre. All players should seek a way to play this game. While the score doesn't equate to perfection, it's the best any game could conceivably do.

These are above-average games that most players should consider purchasing. Nearly everyone will enjoy the game and given the proper audience, some may even love these games.

This is our middle-of-the-road ranking. Titles that receive three stars may not make a strong impression on the reviewer in either direction. These games may have some faults and some strong points but they average out to be a modest title that is at least worthy of rental for most.

Games that are awarded two stars are below average titles. Good ideas may be present, but execution is poor and many issues hinder the experience.

Though functional, a game that receives this score has major issues. There are little to no redeeming qualities and should be avoided by nearly all players.

A game that gets this score is fundamentally broken and should be avoided by everyone.




01/22/2019 at 09:11 PM

I played one of the Rollercoaster Tycoons on Xbox or PS2 not too long ago. I was excited at first but then had some trouble with routing worker's patrols and such. I did build an arcade and tried to keep it from breaking down. I wanted it to play like Zoo Tycoon, but it just wasn't as easy to do things. I'd want to play Adventures, if it would come to the other consoles, that is. 

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