Written by  :  Afterburner (496)
Written on  :  Mar 21, 2001
Rating  :  4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars4.25 Stars

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Simple, elegant, and (most importantly) fun!

The Good

Roller Coaster Tycoon has a wonderfully short learning curve. You don't have to be the Supreme Roller Coaster Designer or Fortune's CEO of the Year to get started building your first successful park. The game comes with plenty of pre-built coasters that you can just plop down in your parks (if you have the cash), and the business management aspects of the game are extremely simple and easy to master.

Of course, if you can master the art of building a good coaster, the game becomes even more fun. It's really a blast to make an exciting coaster with lots of visual appeal and then watch your park guests zip around your creation. Once you start making your own coasters, the game becomes a challenge of trying to top your last design, or trying to make a good coaster within the limitations of the scenario's landscape. (One of my favorite custom coasters was a small wooden coaster that I built entirely inside a small hill.)

The Bad

The pathing management for your park employees is really a pain. I would love to have the ability to highlight just the path that I want my groundskeepers to walk instead of having to lay out a 4x4 grid everywhere. The 4x4 grid makes it very difficult to get proper coverage because you can't always keep your staff out of areas with a zillion intersections. And it's far too easy to miss sections of path if it's on a bridge or if there's a level difference between the path and the surrounding terrain.

The designer of the game, Chris Sawyer, seems to be extremely anal retentive about 3rd-party, fan-created add-ons to the game. He's released a couple of patches that served no purpose other than to thwart the existing crop of fan-created add-ons. And the programs he's most opposed to are the programs that allow you to create your own scenarios, or that let you play in "sandbox" mode (i.e. just a blank landscape without any scenario restrictions or requirements). In short, Sawyer gives the impression that he's a control freak who's determined to make sure that you can only play the game the way he wants you to play it. Fortunately, the fans have not yet been thwarted to any permanent degree, so these programs are still available and still work despite the efforts of Mr. Sawyer.

The Bottom Line

Despite my gripes, the game is fantastically fun and addictive. I recommend it highly to anybody who likes SimCity type games or who likes going to amusement parks.