I’m pretty sure the original Rollercoaster Tycoon is where my love of all games “Tycoon” began. I mean, who doesn’t want to build their own theme park, complete with vomiting guests you have to clean up after and grass that needs to be mown? Okay, so maybe it’s not as glamorous as all that, but the one thing it is, even almost 20 years later, is an awful lot of fun.
The Deluxe version, which is available both on GoG.com and Steam not only includes the 22 scenarios in the base game, but both expansion packs, which add another 60 scenarios, as well as new types of attractions & scenery. You can only access the first five scenarios in each category, however, each time you complete a scenario, another one unlocks. There is no campaign mode – all the scenarios play independently of the others. The very first scenario of the base game, Forest Frontiers, also serves as the game’s tutorial level.
I have had plenty of experiences where games that I used to love just haven’t held up over time, even though I put on a big old pair of nostalgia goggles when I play them. This is absolutely and completely not the case here. Yes, the graphics are dated, and there are some glitches in the pseudo-3D rendering, and playing it in a window instead of good old 800X600 fullscreen (which is an option by the way), will likely leave you squinting at some of the text. But it still plays like a dream (although issues have been reported with both the GOG and Steam versions with Windows 10).
For many people, playing Rollercoaster Tycoon was all about building your own fancy custom rides. While that option is there if you like that kind of thing, I always ended up with rides that either didn’t work, or that bored people, and occasionally, that killed people. Each type of coaster (& other track rides) comes with multiple pre-built options you can use. There are a few scenarios, however, that require you to build custom coasters in order to complete them.
Past the joys of building, however, there is also a pretty complex business simulator. If you don’t give the people what they want, be it scarier rides or cotton candy, at a price they find reasonable, they won’t spend money in your park. Without money, you can’t expand. You will also need to funnel money into research, advertising, and staff. It’s a fairly complex balancing act that can be frustrating when you can’t make it work, but oh so satisfying to get right.
I’m not going to beat around the bush here. If you loved Rollercoaster Tycoon when it was new, buy the Deluxe edition and play it again. If you like business sims, or building games, or cleaning up the vomit of tiny pixelated people, you should buy the Deluxe edition and play it. If you’ve never heard of Rollercoaster Tycoon, you should probably still buy the Deluxe edition and play it. It’s $6 for over 80 scenarios of a really well-balanced and compelling game.