RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures is described on its page on the RollerCoaster Tycoon website as a “casual, user-friendly” park simulation. I point out this choice of language because it’s a strong indicator of exactly what kind of game Adventures is; simple, accessible, fun for a short while, but very shallow. It’s clearly an attempt at making RollerCoaster Tycoon less of a “proper” strategy game, with balances to keep track of and guests to please, and more of a friendly experience. After all, as the game’s website says, “Becoming a RollerCoaster Tycoon has never been this fun or this easy!”
This isn’t necessarily a terrible thing if you are looking for a casual experience, and if you are it initially seems to do a pretty good job of delivering this. First, it’s surprisingly good looking, sharp and colourful with enough detail on rides for the more cartoony art style. It’s nothing too impressive, but it more than does the job, no question. Unfortunately this seems to have an effect on the Switch’s hardware, as even in relatively small parks with only a couple of rollercoasters and a modest assortment of rides and services, the framerate drops significantly when zoomed out to a playable level and just gets worse the further you zoom and the bigger your park. It’s not so bad that it’s impossible to play, but it’s still not great and it isn’t that good looking.
There’s also plenty of rides and attractions to fill your parks, featuring a large variety of junior, family, and thrill rides to choose from in your quest to relieve your guests of their cash, not to mention quite a few restaurants for when they’re feeling snacky. The number of actual rollercoasters leaves a lot to be desired, though, as there are only seven. Each of them have a few pre-made designs and, of course, you can build your own.
The coaster building is perhaps the biggest disappointment in the game for me, as the tool in the game is abysmal. Instead of clicking buttons in the UI to place a track piece by piece, like in the main games in the series, Adventures has you drawing it with an analog stick or your finger on the Switch’s touchscreen when in handheld mode. You draw the track, then edit the height, banking, and add in special pieces of track afterwards.
It’s just shockingly inaccurate. I never once made a rollercoaster that I was satisfied with, despite spending large amounts of times wrestling with the UI’s idiosyncrasies whilst trying to raise and lower pieces of coasters bit by bit. Often I would be deleting unnecessary bits of track, only for them to be replaced when trying to move other pieces. It’s a mess of poor UI and bad design that feels so inaccurate as to be actively frustrating. I eventually gave up and just placed pre-made coasters, which I’ve never done in a previous RollerCoaster Tycoon game, because building them is supposed to be the best part.
There are other changes to the formula that don’t go down quite so badly, although they certainly aren’t improvements either. Handymen and mechanics now have their own buildings rather than simply being dropped into your park with tweezers, and instead of setting out an area for them to patrol they will instead cover an area around their building. It works well enough for smaller parks, but with too many attractions too close together you end up having to overlap them and it begins to feel a bit too basic. Assigning patrol areas seems like a far better suited solution and this change feels like a step back.