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Review by: Bob Mandel
Published: April 19, 1999
When Will Wright created SimCity from Maxis, or Sid Meier created Civilization from Microprose, or the wizards at Bullfrog created Populous, I noted with admiration the intricacy of these classic offerings, but never played them much. It always seemed as if these titles required way too much work for way too little fun. They seemed, to be blunt, to be too serious and tedious, and too much like having to run a business in real life.
So when I first heard about Microprose’s RollerCoaster Tycoon, I yawned and said to myself, “This is just another variation of a tired genre in which I have no interest.” When I received the demo in the mail, I did not even look at it for a couple of weeks. Finally, in a moment of utter boredom, I installed the demo and ran the game. My life has simply not been the same since. Within a day of doing this, I let Microprose know I wanted to review the final version the moment it came out. I simply have not been able to pull myself away from this release since its arrival.
RollerCoaster Tycoon has a distinguished ancestry. While some people, due to the name, may think it linked to Sid Meier’s Railroad Tycoon, RollerCoaster Tycoon is actually the second game of this type from Chris Sawyer, the talented developer of the under-appreciated Transport Tycoon, released in 1994. The most similar title to RollerCoaster Tycoon is Bullfrog’s Theme Park, published by Electronic Arts a few years ago. But in Theme Park, you cannot build your own custom rollercoasters from scratch; you must pay much more attention to the business aspects of running an amusement park, including buying stocks and competing with other parks, and the formula for winning is much too simple and static.
RollerCoaster Tycoon involves 21 diverse scenarios. It is a bit unfortunate that only five of them are open from the start, with the rest becoming available as you finish the ones you can already get to. But given that it usually takes several hours to complete a scenario (you may be swift to meet the designated goals, but then you have to wait for the designated amount of time to elapse), there is no skimpiness of really solid play here. The replay value of this game is greatly extended by the downloadable extras available; already, you may download 14 extra rides and one extra scenario from the web, and you will soon be able to share your park designs with others.
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