Released: 1999

I don't just enjoy going back to RollerCoaster Tycoon. I love going back to RollerCoaster Tycoon. There's something about thousands of little brown haired guys, jumping with their fists in the air as they exit a ride I built. It's a great feeling, after spending a good half an hour meticulously planning out the twists and turns of my roller coaster. An exciting ride is what pays the bills in RollerCoaster Tycoon, a game developed by one man: Chris Sawyer. For those of you who have never played it, it's a theme park simulation game, much like Bullfrog's Theme Park. With a slightly bigger emphasis on roller coasters, your continued goal is to increase the profits and visitors of your park by building rides and attractions. Sounds simple, right? Maybe not...

PhotobucketAs your theme park expands, so do the amount of problems you encounter. Rides can break down, money can get limited and, worst of all, people will be sick. People will be sick a lot. No matter how many handymen you employ to roam the paths of your park, you will always have problems with vomit. That said, as a game that is coming up on 14 years old, it is still a very fun simulation game.

What I loved the most about RollerCoaster Tycoon is that you can design and build the roller coasters of your dreams. Using the editor in game you can build almost any coaster you can think of. Over shops or underground, the editor is actually quite a powerful tool and can make or break the expansion decisions of your park. The down side to this is that roller coaster design is complicated, and requires a lot of trial and error. I hesitate to call it a physics system, but the game has it's own special way of making sure the coaster trains handle as realistically as possible, and grades your coasters excitement level accordingly. More exciting rides obviously attract more guests and it can take a significant time investment to learn how to make each coaster exciting. That said, you don't have to build your own coasters. There are tons of pre-built roller coasters that can be used as well as shops, gentle rides, thrill rides and water rides.

PhotobucketRollerCoaster Tycoon is an accessible retro PC game with a very easy to use User Interface. The isometric view and cartoon like graphics have aged well, and in keeping with the theme park nature of the game, it features vibrant rides and scenery. The simulation part of the game is also very easy to pick up, even without the short tutorial. You put some paths down, build some rides, put in shops, benches and bins. Ride pricing is determined by excitement level, and there are a few finance options for loans and marketing. What's nice is that RollerCoaster Tycoon never really feels complicated. There is nothing that actively tries to trip you, only perhaps the strange artificial time limits. And vomit. Yep, get those handymen on that.

So the big question, is RollerCoaster Tycoon a retro game worth playing today? Yes. Like many simulation games that came before and after, simplicity is what holds the game together. Before you know it, the minutes turn to hours, and the hours into long gameplay sessions. Like those moments in SimCity, where you kick back and just watch your city at work, hearing the terrified screams of guests flying around the park never fails to put a smile on my face.

You can pick up RollerCoaster Tycoon at GOG.com