Review – RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition

Besides the release of the underwhelming RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures a few years ago, we haven’t heard a lot of news from the classic theme park creator franchise, especially ever since they were purchased by Atari. The announcement of a re-release of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, with all previously released DLC, surprised me for a multitude of reasons. First of all, it was coming out not only for PC (which is the version we’re tackling), but also the Nintendo Switch. Second, it was being handled by Frontier Developments, the game’s original developers, once again, without Atari’s involvement. Those are small things that make me hopeful for the future of the franchise. Not only that, I had never played RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 prior to this review, so I was excited to finally try it out.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3

You call this a mess. I call this avantgarde.

Gone is the newcomer-friendlier, more Sim Theme Park-esque feel from Adventures. We’re back in the physics-defying construction and business simulation world, baby. We’re here to analyze menus, read charts, manage finances, hire staff, and most importantly, come up with the most idiotic rides your imagination (or, more realistically, your budget) can come up with. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition is all about completing scenarios in order to gain experience, and then knocking yourself out in the ludicrous sandbox mode.

As a game itself, it’s still incredibly fun. I just love a good sandbox coupled with a deep creation tool, anything that lets my imagination go wild. No wonder I love games like Cities: Skylines, or modes like the Tony Hawk’s Pro Skater park creator. It’s lighthearted and relaxing. I can even import my own textures and soundtrack to create the most personalized experienced possible. Sadly, there are issues with this game, and most of them are a result of a sad reality: RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 has aged.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3

Hey! Look! It’s Hanson!

This is a sixteen year old game running with improved resolutions, but that doesn’t mean it was created with a 1080p resolution in mind. While you can have a huge view of your park onscreen, the original game’s icons and UI haven’t received any visual improvements whatsoever. As a result, you get a prettier (but still janky) game with one hell of a convoluted user interface. It pretty much forces you to resort to the tutorials in order to get reaccustomed to RollerCoaster Tycoon 3‘s overall gameplay.

Once finishing the tutorials, I’d recommend tackling some easy scenarios in order to finally get ready for the core experience. There is a lot to do in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition. All previously released DLC packs are included in here, meaning that there are literal hundreds of rides to choose from, including water park and zoo attractions. I just love the degree of freedom I’m given in here. I can even create a theme park comprised solely of twenty go-kart racetracks if that’s what I want.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3

I mean, we used to think San Andreas was a good looking game back in 2004…

As long as you understand that you’re about to play a game that has aged significantly (it was originally released in 2004, after all), then you’ll have a great time with RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition. Yes, it doesn’t look that great nowadays. Yes, its UI is janky and confusing. That doesn’t mean you won’t have tons of fun coming up with the stupidest, most gravity-defying rides in history. It’s a game that lets your imagination go wild, with near infinite amounts of replayability.


Graphics: 6.0

I appreciate its cute art style and its fantastic performance, but this game’s UI is way too small and messy.

Gameplay: 6.0

The convoluted UI turns the sole act of creating your dream rides way more complicated than it should, at least at first. You can get used to the weird controls after a while.

Sound: 8.0

Even though you can actually use a custom soundtrack, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition features an incredibly catchy collection of tunes of its own. 

Fun Factor: 9.0

Despite being dated and janky, coming up with the most ridiculous ideas for rides in existence never gets old, especially when you let your imagination go wild in Sandbox mode. This game’s replayability is off the charts.

Final Verdict: 7.5

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition is available now on PC and Switch.

Reviewed on PC.

A copy of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition was provided by the publisher.