RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic - Android Review

RollerCoaster Tycoon is a game I wasted spent far too much time playing in my teens. The brother of a friend handed me a cover disc from PC Gamer at school one day and from the moment I loaded it up I was hooked. Playing all 3 iterations and their expansions, I was extremely excited when I heard that Chris Sawyer was returning to the helm with the team at Origin 8 after their mobile port of Locomotion (sold on mobile as Transport Tycoon) to bring a fully featured mobile version to the market.  This review is based on the Android release.

This is a premium title rather than the freemium model applied to RCT4M and RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch. There are a couple of in-app purchases within the game but I will go into more details on them later. The game does a couple of things in the process of getting it ready for play on mobile devices.  In addition to the obvious of adding a touch interface, they also went back through the content from RCT and RCT2.  Whilst these 2 games shared a lot of features and art style, they were on different game engines, meaning different features (for example stackable scenery in RCT2) and a different file structure.  Rather than limiting to a single game they decided to put in the effort and include almost all of the content (rides, scenery and scenarios) from both titles.

White Water Park scenario with some custom built
rollercoasters added
This meant that they first had to convert the scenarios and assets from RCT to be compatible with the RCT2 game.  This comes with a number of benefits for us as players as it brings all of these additional features from RCT2, such as stacked scenery and improved staff patrol areas, to the original scenarios.  The also did away with the old difficulty grouped scenarios and created a new category system, each with 9-10 scenarios, mixed between RCT plus its' expansion and RCT2, totally an impressive 95 scenarios.  This helps to break up the scenarios as if they had gone with the traditional difficulty levels these lists would have been very large.  As with the original games you start with a small number of scenarios unlocked and more become available as you successfully complete each scenario and ,although not using the difficulty terminology, parks get more difficult as you progress.

Scenario selections showing available, locked and
completed scenarios
Each scenario has a certain win condition that you must meet to unlock new scenarios and therefore complete the game.  These range from a simple have x number of guests in your park at the end of year y, achieve a company/park value of z etc.  In some cases there may be multiple conditions, for example have 900 guests in your park at the end of year 3 with a park rating of 600.  These are well mixed between the scenarios and vary quite a lot meaning that each scenario you play means you are trying to focus on something different.  Each scenario also takes place in a unique map across a number of different landscapes ranging from forest and desert, to arctic and even alien planets, again keeping the gameplay fresh with each level.

Top: UI design from original RCT
Bottom: UI design from RCTC

Whilst the game has many similarities to the original in the gameplay, such as the scenarios and gameplay loop of building rides, designing rollercoasters and ensuring the needs of guests are met, there are also some changes due to the nature of being a mobile game.  The UI has been redesigned with 'smoother' icons which, whilst still in the RCT style, feel a little too polished against the rest of the game, although the layout of buttons does fit better for a mobile game.  There is also Google Play Games integration.  This brings 11 achievements to the game for completing each of the scenario groups and a secret achievement.  This integration also allows you to save progress across devices.  It is important to note, however, that whilst unlocked scenarios will carry there is no cloud saving so you cannot play the same save on a phone and a tablet.

One of my main frustrations with the original games, probably due to my lack of planning, was running out of cash and having to let the simulation run to earn more cash to continue building.  One of the improvements they have made is that there are now a total of 5 game speeds, in addition to the play and pause from the originals there are now fast, faster and fastest speeds which makes the wait for year 3 or year 5 much easier to deal with, especially with the nature of how many people play mobile games.  Path placement has also been changed slightly in terms of how you switch between terrain conforming pathing and raised paths.  Again I feel this is a good change as it makes the distinction much clearer IMO.

Constructing a custom rollercoaster layout

Scenery placement is something which I never really bothered with when playing RCT games and other than basics I haven't done much in the mobile version either.  Where in RCT2 to stack items, such as walls and roofs, you simply pressed shift and they stacked easily.  This is obviously problematic with a touch device and so the UI again has been redesigned with a simple toggle to enable stacking, however the simple act of selecting the relevant tile edge for placing walls and fences can be extremely frustrating.

I mentioned in-app purchases earlier which everyone loves to hate.  In terms of RCTC there are 3 IAPs available.  Whilst the base game contains most of the content from RCT including both expansions and RCT2, it does not contain the RCT2 expansions packs, or additional tools such as coaster designer and scenario creator.  This is the content which is available as modestly priced IAPs.  The Wacky Worlds and Time Twister expansions cost 1.99GBP each.  These add 17 and 14 new scenarios respectively, along with new rides, stalls and scenery items.  The RCTC Toolkit is a bit more expensive at 5.99GBP (the same price as the base game) and brings the scenario editor, ride designer and a tool to enable you to import and export saves between RCTC and RCT2 on your PC.

One of the alternative terrain styles showing a disused mine
Strangely, the game was also later ported to PC and made available on Steam for 14.99GBP, however this version does come already bundled with the three packs.  I say this is strange however, as both RCT and RCT2 can be purchased on Steam for a combined price of 11.78GBP, although they do go on sale and can be picked up for less than this.  Whilst this won't include the changes mentioned above, there is a mod package for RCT2 called the OpenRCT2 Project.  This mod brings many features such as variable speed, a day/night cycle and multiplayer support to RCT2 and I would suggest if playing on a PC it is better to use this option.  Note that, due to being a mod, to use OpenRCT2 you do need to own a copy of RCT2.

My verdict for the game, well it's a bit complicated.  Based on reviewing on an Android device I would say that at £5.99 the base game is fairly priced and definitely worth the price.  I would also say that the Wacky Worlds and Time Twister packs are also value for money.  The Toolkit, I think is probably overpriced and would liked to have seen that a bit cheaper either at the same price as the other packs, or marginally higher, for example £3.99 so would  say unless you have finished all of the scenarios in the base game and other packs and want to make some more, I'd probably pass on it.

You can purchase and download on the Play Store and App Store.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic - Android Review RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic - Android Review Reviewed by Parcival on April 20, 2020 Rating: 5

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