In 2012 I did a five-part run down of my favourite computer games as a top ten. At the pinnacle was two games – RollerCoaster Tycoon and RollerCoaster Tycoon 2. I wrote about how I’d spent hundreds and thousands of hours sinking time into the games like I should have sunk into my studies. I avoided friends to play it. I would play it with friends who would let me. A lot of my fondest memories are around that game and the time that I played it; youth, lost friends and high school wrapped up inside a game that crawled into my life and has never let go.
I have played it a lot as an “adult”. I installed RCT2 onto an old laptop a few years back and sunk time into it again, enjoying building rides and gathering amused glances from Connie every so often. We’d sit, Frank at our feet, whilst she watched some Netflix show I wasn’t into and I’d kick back with a few hours of theme parks. The laptop is an old one – not even Google Chrome runs on it – and since we’ve moved I’ve not had a chance to open it up again to see if it works anymore.
There were three “main” instalments in the series that I played. RCT1 and 2 got heavy playtime in my house and my laptop, but the earnstwhile RCT3 was too complicated for either the family computer or the laptop at the time. I could never get into RCT3 either, for it just didn’t quite match the style of play I’d become so engrained with from the titles before. At somepoint, the game was lost amongst the end fo the Age of the PC, and no one could see it really coming back. Atari, the company who licenses the name from the original creator Chris Sawyer, couldn’t get a new game together again. Instead, they released the odd and simply awful RollerCoaster Tycoon 3D for the 3DS inexplicably, and then a few years ago released RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile (which is a 4 = “for” pun I can only assume, as it was not at all a game worthy of the name.
They then announced a full sequel – RollerCoaster Tycoon World – and that it was to be the great return. It wasn’t. In fact, it is a bit of a scandal really, being released into what is called “Earyl Access” which basically means letting people pay for a game that’s still not ready to be played yet. I also can’t play it anyway, without a Windows PC to play the game on.
Imagine my surprise then a few days before Christmas when in my Google Now feed (or whatever that fancy Android thing where Google suggests you news articles is called these days) I see an article for something called “RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic”. I click through, and it appears as though my dreams have been answered.
RCTC is as close to the original games as you’re ever going to get. In fact, it’s probably better, for a few reasons – the first being it’s literally a straight rip of RCT1 and RCT2 for your phone or tablet, complete with all the original rides, scenarios and gameplay that the original series had. It also features a few new features, that only long-time fans will notice, like the shops and stalls spinning round to match the pathway their next to, or new track pieces for some rollercoasters. It’s like a best of of the two games, and that’s no accident – the original creator of the game, Chris Sawyer, is right behind this port of the game.
It plays perfectly fine on the touchscreen too. I have a Nexus 6P, which is a big screened beast, and it manages to control the graphics and the gameplay well considering the screen real estate needed to make the game work. In fact, it feels perfect on the screen bar on thing – the delete button is just too small for my tastes, and building structures, a key component of RCT2, is fiddly compared to the original game’s.
But yeah, I love it. I’ve already sunk hours into it whilst Etta sleep on me. I have completed nine scenarios since I started playing it, and all the old “tricks” work fine. I came close to missing one of them, but still passed it.
If you’re an old fan this is the game you’ve been waiting for. I know it’s the game I’ve been waiting for. I’d be very interested to see them make a sequel to this game now – or maybe an expansion pack with a raft of more modern rollercoasters and rides, but that’s wishful thinking considering the effort required to make all the assets for the game. But we can dream.