Review – Planet Coaster: Console Edition

Planet Coaster was originally released in 2016, as one of Frontier Developments’ first self-published titles, in a time when the company was increasing in size and overall relevance. It was basically a spiritual successor to their widely acclaimed theme park simulators in general, but most notably RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. It enjoyed widespread critical and commercial success, but it kept being a PC exclusive for more than four years. The game is finally out for consoles, and weirdly enough, is part of the Playstation 5’s launch lineup. That’s probably the first time a simulator like this is part of a console launch, so let’s see if this piece of novelty is worth your time or not.

Planet Coaster

“Hey, it’s minimum wage, but it’s a living…”

Planet Coaster: Console Edition is basically the same game from four years ago, but with a few new graphical improvements to somewhat resemble like a next-gen console. The lighting effects look impressive enough, with shadows moving naturally throughout the day, but this is still a game that wasn’t even THAT gorgeous on PC four years ago. Thankfully, the fact it doesn’t demand a lot from the PS5’s hardware means that it runs smoothly enough, no matter how many visitors and rides are onscreen at any given moment. The sound department is also largely passable, with decent sound effects and a very weird, Of Monsters and Men-ish theme song that doesn’t fit at all with the game’s wacky presentation.

Planet Coaster

I named this coaster “The Incoming Lawsuit”.

Adapting a mouse-based management simulator like Planet Coaster on a console is always a tricky task. You can use a mouse and a keyboard in here, but that goes against the practicality of playing video games on a console. Some people might actually use this control scheme, but 99% of players want to know if Planet Coaster is playable with the DualSense. I have to give the developers credit, as this game is totally playable and enjoyable with a normal controller, but that doesn’t mean you won’t have to get used to some convoluted controls at first.

Planet Coaster

They don’t need to care about social distancing in this virtual world.

There is no cursor in this version of Planet Coaster. Everything is assigned to a button, or a combination of buttons, and explicitly shown onscreen at all times. I appreciate the gesture, as this game is actually quite deep and complex, despite the seemingly family-friendly premise of creating fun rides for people to enjoy. You’ll need some time to get used to these mechanics, as well as some pseudo-bureaucratic steps before you can actually open a ride in your park.

For instance, you will need to test a roller coaster before opening it to the public. If its physics don’t work, or if the ride is way too extreme for feeble human hearts to endure, you will either need to redesign it or delete it. You will need to create entrance lines and connect a ride’s exit to a nearby path as well. If you build a shop, you need to hire a vendor. You will need to constantly repair rides before they go kaput. These are things that can either be learned by partaking on Planet Coaster‘s career mode, or just by playing it on Sandbox mode, where money isn’t an issue and you can just go bananas with your stupidly crazy creations. Without a doubt, Sandbox is where Planet Coaster shines.

Howdy pardner!

The obvious recommendation is to enjoy Planet Coaster on a PC, the way the game was meant to be played. Mod support and the easier usage of mouse and keyboard on PC make that version way more enjoyable and user-friendly than this PS5 port. But that doesn’t mean Planet Coaster: Console Edition is bad. Far from it. I had a blast with this version. As a spiritual successor to Frontier’s other theme park simulators, it manages to be equally deeper and more accessible than its peers. A game like this might be a weird part of a console’s launch lineup, but it’s still an easy recommendation if you’re into this specific gaming niche.


Graphics: 6.5

Planet Coaster is a building simulator first released in 2016. Its visuals weren’t groundbreaking back then, and they’re certainly not groundbreaking for PS5 standards, even if the lighting effects have been improved.

Gameplay: 7.0

The developers have tried their best to come up with intuitive controls and menus for a console-based version of a PC game. It works, but you need to get used to the complicated mechanics at first. The DualSense is great, but it’s not a mouse. You can use a mouse in here, but I don’t see the point.

Sound: 7.0

The sound department is passable when on building mode. The music is unintrusive and the sound effects are decent. The main menu song is catchy, but definitely not a good fit for a fun theme park simulator.

Fun Factor: 8.5

It’s still a really fun theme park simulator, even if you’re not playing it on a computer. The sandbox mode, as expected, is still the best thing about this game.

Final Verdict: 7.5

Planet Coaster: Console Edition is available now on PS4, PS5, Xbox One, and Xbox Series S/X.

Reviewed on PS5.

A copy of Planet Coaster: Console Edition was provided by the publisher.