With the Rollercoaster Tycoon series receiving many iterations at the hands of a quite a few developers over the years, It’s no wonder that Atari would take another crack at the theme park sim formula with another developer. Nvizzio Creations started with the mobile version, which is what you would expect out of a digital sim park with a free to play model. With the amount of customization the series is typically known for, you can imagine the egregiousness applied to the pricing model of the mobile version since there are so many rides and attractions you could possibly purchase. The Nintendo Switch version is based on the same mobile art style and aesthetic. But thankfully, without the predatory micro-transactions.
When you start up the game, you’ll be greeted by a robust tutorial that goes through the systems that are recognizable to fans of the series including laying paths, maintaining rides, and making sure that you’re tracking the enjoyment of your patrons. It should be noted that in handheld mode, you’re able to use the touch screen to perform most basic commands. While this play method works completely, this reviewer found playing with a controller to be more effective seeing as every function is mapped and clearly displayed on screen. Once you’ve toyed around with the tutorials, you’re able to jump in to one of three game modes. Adventure, Scenario, and Sandbox.
Adventure has you starting a park from scratch in order to accomplish goals like financial milestones, or maximizing on park visitors. By accomplishing certain goals, you’ll advance to new terrain with new challenges. Advancing can feel like a serious grind, but more on that later. Especially if you’re trying to maximize your park’s potential, it’s a substantial time investment. With all of that said, it can still feel like there is no real progression system in this mode.Scenario has you facing timed challenges where the goals differ by the map. Some maps require you to have a certain decoration level that makes your park more attractive to park goers. Others have you maintaining patron satisfaction levels while you build and expand your park. Last but not least, there’s sandbox mode. This mode essentially allows you to go wild and build the park of your dreams with unlimited currency which is where the fun is to be had.
This game’s biggest flaw becomes apparent when you realize that the majority of the game is to cycle through the loop of researching rides and expanding your land over and over again without giving you anything different to do as you go further. The grind can feel a little tedious since the unlocks are mostly the same from level to level, and quickly loses its appeal. As I was playing this game, I kept thinking how obvious it was that this was ported from mobile. Tons of unlockables without a well defined progression system. Outside of the the game modes, the menus feel fragmented seeing as none of your progress across parks is tracked. At times I found myself forgetting which mode I played on which map. Adding to the feeling that there doesn’t seem to be any cohesion, nor a feeling that you’ve accomplished anything outside of the immediate short term with no long game.
The performance of the game is acceptable, until you get to handheld mode and try to grapple with some of the lag and clunkiness of the map movement. I would be trying to get to another part of the map, and the game would lag in an unbelievable way when considering other games with higher graphics requirements perform better. The most disappointing thing about this game is its potential. With other, better roller coaster simulators out there, Atari have done themselves no favours with this entry. This instalment is for serious fans of this franchise only who may be able to siphon some joy. It may even satisfy the urge of some casual players, but will likely not convince anyone looking to jump into this series for the first time. There’s a good foundation here, but not enough refinement.
Forged in the 8 bit era, Duarte can be found quietly contemplating the future of the games industry. Wondering what the exhilaration of digital achievement will look like on the next horizon.