App Diary: RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic

App Diary: RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic

The recent release of RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic ($6) for iOS has been long awaited by a certain group of mobile gamers. While there have been a number of theme park simulators available on the App Store — including RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 and RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 — a dedicated crowd has long insisted the first and second RollerCoaster Tycoons are still the best theme park simulators ever, as created by developer Chris Sawyer. This iOS release claims to combine the best features of Sawyer’s games.
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For those unfamiliar with RollerCoaster Tycoon, here’s the basic gist: you take control of a theme park, in just about every way you can imagine. You build rides, and can even design many of the rides, including, of course, rollercoasters. You construct footpaths to shape your park and guide patrons. You build food stands and shops. You set prices. You hire workers. And much more. All of this may sound daunting to a novice, and if you’re looking for something casual, RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic may not be your best bet. However, I’ve found that a major part of RollerCoaster Tycoon’s appeal is how it makes a fairly deep game accessible. A number of parks are available from the get-go: you’re tasked with earning a certain park rating and getting a predetermined number of guests to achieve your objective. (More parks are unlocked once you complete these objectives.) If you start with a smaller park with reasonable goals, it’s relatively easy to get into the flow of the game and understand what you have to do. The pace of the game doesn’t feel rushed, either.

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RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic boasts both “authentic” gameplay and “classic” graphics. The latter could obviously be better — yes, graphics have improved in the last 14 years — but that’s not why people play RollerCoaster Tycoon. An iPad’s touchscreen controls make it easy to navigate through a park, zoom in on a certain section of the map, and select squares with accuracy. The game’s isometric view still presents some problems though, especially when trying to shape footpaths or coaster tracks around trees and other structures. Building footpaths can also be problematic when using the touchscreen — it requires a lot of taps, and plenty of mistakes. Also, there’s a reason I mentioned the iPad screen: even the iPhone 7 Plus screen feels a bit too small for this game. It’s not completely unfeasible to play RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic on an iPhone, but it’s far better on a larger screen — I prefer playing it on the 12.9” iPad Pro.

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It’s been a long time since I played the first two RollerCoaster Tycoon games, but RCT Classic has made it easy to get back into the swing of things. Though there are a few peccadilloes with the game — was park vandalism always this bad? — RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic is a fun simulator that has enough depth to offer a nearly infinite amount of entertainment, especially if you buy any of the in-app expansion purchases. RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic comes highly recommended to fans of the original RC Tycoon games, and for iPad users looking for a great simulation game.