My Favourite Computer Games Part 5 - Number 1

Rollercoaster Tycoon and Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 (Windows)

This is like having to write a post about your best friend. For me, no game was as important in my entire life than Rollercoaster Tycoon. It bred an unhealthy enjoyment of rollercoaster facts that I am still trying to shake off (like, for example, that Steel Dragon 2000 is the longest single circuit rollercoaster in the world, or that Kingda Ka is the tallest ever built, or that Oblivion was the world’s first drop machine “vertical” drop rollercoaster, despite only being an 87.5° angle) but it also totally soaked up hundreds (maybe even thousands) of hours of my life.

It all started with a demo being played on a friends PC. It last 15 minutes at the most before kicking you out. He’d downloaded it online and I couldn’t, because we didn’t have a second phone line and it would’ve taken a long time. So, when I noticed that the demo was available on the demo disc on PC Gamer on month, I leapt at the chance. After that, it was a slippery slope – the game was bought, then the two expansion packs, and then the sequel, and then it’s two expansion packs. I prided myself on building real parks, real rollercoasters, and even came with the save game spanning “brand” of parks, Carousel Fairs, much like the American Six Flags or Cedar Fair.

The game was deceptively easy – built a theme park, make money. My dad tried it, my sister played it, but only I was so severly addicted. I remember one day I decided to avoid going to church at school (which is going to be the subject of a future post, actually) and stayed at home playing the game for hours on end, probably against the will of my parents.

I don’t think it would be on many people’s top list, and if it was it’d only be on a select few’s top spot, but the impact it had on me was immense. I played it a lot, and only last year installed it on my “new” PC to try it out and it was great. I can pick it up and play it for only a few hours but in moments I am hooked, building and twisting the game at my will. The overall design of the game is probably not great, nor is the graphics anything to write home about, but that’s never been what has made a good game, and in my mind RCT is probably the greatest simulation management game ever made.

It did lead me to find the maker’s other titles, like Transport Tycoon and later Locomotion, which was essentially RCT but with trains and planes. I have a knack for games like these and I enjoy them immensely, entirely submerging myself in the gameplay and the world’s I create within them.

The series, like all great series’ on PC, has had to evolve to try and keep up. It’s last major instalment, the barbaric Rollercoaster Tycoon 3, introduced spikey 3D graphics and unrealistic game modes, as well as a healthy dose of bugs. Whereas RCT 1 and 2 were solid as a rock, RCT3 was a mess at first, but it got better, but I could never get into it. Recently, they release a fourth instalment in the series on the Nintendo 3DS, but it has been critically panned and looks worse than the first game, so I’ll ignore it.

The thing about this top ten is that I could instantly go back and play each and every one of these games right now, and without even worrying about it. I love them. They are like nothing before and nothing since, in my life, and I can’t wait to own a big PC in my own home and have these games ready to played, if I can. An old laptop I salvaged from my sister will run Theme Hospital, Rollercoaster Tycoon, Sim City 4 and others. The rest will stay at home on my Dreamcast.

I will miss playing games. But then I will always have these old ones to fall back on, and when no new games are coming out that compel me to buy them, then why pretend otherwise?

Now, if Shenmue III were to be made on the otherhand…