Review – RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures

RollerCoaster Tycoon is easily one of the most celebrated gaming franchises from the late 90’s and early 2000’s, even though its games are mostly known for the sheer amount of chaos you could cause with death traps in rollercoaster form, instead of the depth and level of simulation it featured. Atari has decided that the first game it would release for the Nintendo Switch wouldn’t be a port of the recently released Tempest 4000. Instead, what we got was a brand new RollerCoaster Tycoon on a portable system. Well, sort of.

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A Russian-styled palace right next to a Mayan temple. Globalization is a beautiful thing.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures isn’t an original title. This game is actually a port of the poorly-received mobile title RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch; one that’s plagued with the typical “pay-to-not-wait” mechanics you’ll find in half of the free-to-play games available on the Android store. Thankfully, none of that nonsense is here. This is completely microtransaction-free, offering a respectable amount of bang for your buck. That doesn’t mean that this game offers a deep simulation experience as the RollerCoaster Tycoon games you grew up with. This is a much simpler version of the games you love, which would be considered a sin on a PC, but it works surprisingly well on a handheld system.

The focus of RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures is to build rides and attractions. That’s it. Any other simulation element present in previous games of the franchise is either completely gone (hiring staff) or severely reduced in complexity or importance (hygiene levels, permits). Your focus is to look at the empty lot at your disposal and fill it in with attractions that’ll allow you to make ends meet at the end of the month. In a way, this reminded a lot more of RollerCoaster Tycoon‘s main competitor from the past decades, the Theme Park (or Sim Theme Park) games, instead of reminding me of an actual successor to Chris Sawyer’s long-lasting franchise. The visuals and overall prop design are also a lot more cartoony than what you’d expect from a RollerCoaster Tycoon game, making it even more of an unofficial successor to Sim Theme Park, without the annoying ant acting as your advisor, that is.

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Who needs Disneyland anyway?

Despite the simplified gameplay being ideal for a mobile experience, there are three things that deeply irritated me while playing RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures. The first main issue is the game’s complete disregard for themes and decorations. While you can choose between a few themes before you start your park, the game doesn’t give you a lot of decoration options and allows for you to put pirate hat stores and palm trees on a space-themed theme park, for instance. With the exception of rollercoasters, the rides are devoid of any customization, so that means that if you want to focus on a specific team for your park, you’ll either have to forget about it or limit yourself to maybe half a dozen attractions that’ll fit according to your wishes.

The second issue is how bland RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures‘ visuals and sound design are. This is a port of a mobile game and it shows. While I did appreciate the overall cartoonish aesthetics and polygonal models, I can’t deny the fact this is a very simplistic game in terms of looks and one that doesn’t even run well to begin with. Slowdowns are rampant and the overall performance takes a nose dive whenever the map starts to get filled with rides and decorations. The soundtrack is very forgettable as well. The best thing that can be said about it is that it’s there to remind you that you’re not playing RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures on mute. Finally, the game also suffers from some excruciatingly long loading times.

The main saving grace, as well as main selling point of RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures, is its rollercoaster design tool. Despite the game’s overall simplicity and lack of depth, designing coasters is by far its deepest mechanic, as well as its easiest. All you need to do is either draw out the coaster with your finger or the the left analog stick and then decide the height of the support beams as well as the inclusion of jumps, loops, etc. I mostly stuck to using an actual controller, but I appreciate how the one interesting gameplay element from the mobile game, touchscreen support, has been left intact.

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That’s some messed up feng shui.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures lacks depth and optimization, but it does succeed at providing a decent amount of fun on-the-go. This is definitely NOT a true successor to the classic RollerCoaster Tycoon games. If that’s what you’re looking for, you’re better off just re-buying them for dirt cheap on a Steam sale. Weirdly enough, if you’re looking for a true successor to the simpler Sim Theme Park games, RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures might actually be the game for you, or at the very least, a decent stopgap until EA decides to revive it. As a free-to-play mobile title, most likely.

 

Graphics: 5.5

While I appreciate the less serious and more vibrant visual style this game features, its framerate goes down the rabbit hole once you fill up your park with too many rides and attractions.

Gameplay: 7.5

Even though the game does feature touchscreen controls (it originated in smartphones, after all), controlling it with the joycons and Pro Controller felt a lot more precise and comfortable.

Sound: 5.0

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures features that typical blasé soundtrack that has the sole function of reminding you that you’re not playing the game on mute.

Fun Factor: 6.5

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures is less of a simulator and more of a simplified ride building title. If you’re looking for a game like its predecessors, it’s not for you. If you’re looking to the closest thing you’ll ever find to a new Sim Theme Park game, however, this title is worth it, oddly enough.

Final Verdict: 6.5

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures is available now on Nintendo Switch.
Reviewed on Switch.
A copy of RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures was provided by the publisher.

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