One thing I miss most in my adulthood is riding roller coasters. It’s not that I don’t try to get out to the theme park, but I just rarely have time. Another thing I miss in gaming is wacky sims. Roller Coaster Tycoon originally appeared on PC back in 1999, so most of today’s younger gamers have likely never heard of it. Back in the day, the PC was a spawning ground for all types of simulation games, but few share as much of a place in my heart as Roller Coaster Tycoon. Now, nearly 15 years later, we are treated to a 3DS version that misses so much of the point, it hurts.
One of the features of the sim genre that keeps players coming back is a vast array of options. This is one area where the 3DS version of the game comes up short. This game is seriously a shadow of its former self. You can no longer adjust terrain. What this means is that your creativity is limited to your starting field. You can no longer create tracks underground, nor adjust height for even better drops.
If that wasn’t enough, you can also no longer name your rides or adjust their color. Height markers are also gone, meaning you can never tell where your track peaks, thus creating a design issue because you could essentially break tracks if you build the track higher than its initial peak. These are all peculiar omissions, especially considering the 3DS is much more robust than PC was 15 years ago.
A lot of this could be forgiven if the game was actually fun, but the problems continue once you start building. The biggest issue is the interface. Icons are not clearly marked, and often times I clicked the wrong item causing frustrations until I memorized them all. You can use the touch screen for several features, including drawing roads around the park, but the problem is it only works half the time with really poor touch detection. The game is broken on so many levels that it feels like a rushed port more than a chance to revive the series.
The game doesn’t look that bad. Buildings and rides have that over-exaggerated cartoon look, but it works. The frame rate is hit and miss, and the camera options are decent. Funny enough, this area also stems problems. The first is that while you can rotate the camera when building objects, it only goes one way. This means if you miss the direction you have to go all the way back around. It’s just one more notch in a laundry list of problems with this game.
Roller Coaster Tycoon 3D is a mess of a game that really serves no purpose. It feels unfinished, and the appeal is lost without all the features and functions that made the original great. If, like me, you were hoping to have a portable version of this once great series, you will be disappointed. The fun of building these crazy rides is hidden behind a wall of frustration. If you really have a hankering to play this game, find a copy on PC somewhere. The original game is still more complete, and more fun, than the 3DS version, and it is 15 years old.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.