Monday, December 17

Review: Rollercoaster Tycoon Adventures [Nintendo Switch eShop]

Ever since the original Theme Park that Bullfrog Studios made way back in the day I’ve been a fan of the concept of an amusement park simulator. While it had its shortcomings the game provided a sort of template for how the genre would work, where you’d have to balance your budget, research new rides, and work to optimize your park experience to make things profitable. Of course when the original Rollercoaster Tycoon hit everything changed and not only did you have an excellent park management simulation to play with, the rollercoaster editor was revolutionary and let you create some truly astounding rides… plus you could then watch kids get off of it and throw up all over the place. If you were hoping this iteration of the series, now finally arriving on Switch, would deliver that exciting and full experience I have very bad news for you.

Rather than being based on the ambitious PC versions of the game which challenged you to have some skill in just about all areas from designing, to budgeting, to building great coasters, to how many janitors you have trying to clean up the trash and random piles of vomit at the thrill ride exits it’s based on the very neutered mobile version. This makes it a shell of the core experience, removing your ability to manage your personnel more accurately, greatly pulling back your ability to monitor how your park is running, providing a pretty wonky means for designing your coasters, and generally dumbing down the experience all around. In many regards its more like playing with a semi-interactive fishbowl, where you can put in some new elements and watch to see how they’re received but it’s simply not terribly active or exciting.

Your first option for experiencing the game is Adventure mode, which roughly has you trying to build up your empire from scratch and is quite a bit of a slog as you try to earn every penny and invest it the best you can little by little. Scenario mode is at least a bit more focused and not as slow, throwing a park or situation at you with some problems and asking that you get things back on track. For the most part I found myself gravitating to Sandbox mode though, trying my best to create some elaborate coasters I could be proud of. Unfortunately, while you’ll be able to work out how to be successful with the coaster editor with some practice I wouldn’t call the interface intuitive by any means, at least if you were hoping to do something on the interesting and ambitious side. Instead you’ll need to suffer through some trial and error and likely fight a bit with the controls along the way. The results can be pleasing but the fight to get them the way you’d like is more trouble than it should be.

If you’re absolutely dying for an amusement park management sim obviously RCTA is the only game in town on Switch but I’d still encourage you to exercise caution considering it and understand its significant limitations. If you’ve only ever known the mobile game or more simplified experiences overall this may not feel like such a letdown, but if you’ve had the taste of what these titles can really be like at some point it will be hard not to be horribly disappointed by how far away from the mark this is. Adventures is just unfortunately a pretty limited implementation of a once-great series.

Score: 5

  • The only amusement park sim on the Switch
  • Once you come to terms with the coaster editor you can have some fun with it

  • All aspects of park management have been streamlined to the point that you don’t feel very connected to your creation or the people working and playing in it
  • The coaster design tools so work and let you create things but are cumbersome and clunky
  • Adventures is just a relatively small piece of the real full RCT experience and fails to impress