After being pulled from digital stores only a few years back, the 2004 classic RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is making a comeback with a fresh release on PC… and Nintendo Switch. Dubbed as the ‘Complete Edition,’ it comes with both the Soaked! and Wild! Expansions, which is bloody brilliant.
Unlike the disappointing RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures (which was developed by a totally different company), RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 offers Switch owners what they should have had in the first place – a fully fledged coaster sim in the palm of your hands.
For those unfamiliar with the original, what you get here are a set of 18 scenarios where you must take a failing park and build it back up again, utilising the 300 rides on offer to tempt punters (known as peeps) to your park. Everything can be customised, named and micromanaged to the point where you can really call the park your own.
You can fiddle with how much you charge for drinks and how many pickles you put in burgers. Place a coaster and you can tweak all manners of things, from how fast the chain link pulls the cars up the track to the colours of the fences surrounding the ride. Of course, the real joy is in customising the actual tracks, and the classic track placement style is easy to pick up. Sadly, I’m not a very good (or patient) builder. It’s very expansive and you can literally spend hours laying down tracks to get the perfect ride.
Management is as in depth as you remember with every penny counted (yes you can change from dollars to pounds). Track your income, play with graphs and change charges accordingly to make the most out of attractions and make the big bucks. Janitors not doing enough? Just grab them and make them clean up the puke.
The controls for the Switch version are decent, but not always great. There’s a handy tutorial from the start that also will get you up to speed in about ten minutes, and you’ll be diving into the menus on the ZL and ZR buttons and getting around quite easily. The placing of objects can be a little tricky, though. Initially I found myself placing objects and deleting by accident almost immediately, the difference between a tap and a long press the quirk I had to get used to. There’s other quirks to get used to as well, and it just gets a touch frustrating at times. Especially when you place something, find you can adjust it and must demolish to start over.
Thankfully, building custom coasters isn’t such a hardship. Placing them a piece down at a time, constructing the coaster of your dreams is more than achievable. I ended up building something similar to Alton Tower’s Oblivion, a humongous vertical drop designed to make wearing white trousers very risky. Hey, nightmares are dreams too!
RCT3 looks as polished as it can be for a 16 year old game. Some graphical improvements have been made, but nothing feels that noticeable. It’s certainly sharper, but that’s about it. Just try not to look at the peeps up close. At least the framerate is solid. I jam packed my park and never had an issue. In that respect, it’s been well optimised for the Switch, working just as well off the dock as on it.
There are only two modes available: Campaign and Sandbox. The tutorial mode has been neatly folded into the regular game for first time players, but can be switched off through the menu. One thing that’s absent is the scenario creator, although I personally didn’t miss it. There’s enough in the 39 campaign scenarios on offer to keep you busy across the main game, Soaked! and Wild!, and once you have exhausted all of that, the freedom of unlimited cash in a sandbox is where you will probably spend most of your time.
The elephant in the room to address is ‘why should I get this when Planet Coaster exists?’ Well, aside from the fact that Planet Coaster isn’t coming to Nintendo Switch, RCT3 is just good value for money on the handheld. If you want a park management game in the palm of you hand, there’s no real competition on Switch, but if you want to play on a big screen? Well, it’s hard to recommend it over Planet Coaster on PC or the upcoming console release. Planet Coast is this game’s spiritual successor, as Frontier brought their park management sim right up to date and filled it with even more customisation.
Still, RCT3 is a nostalgia-filled package with the great selling points of being able to play it on the go and pause and instantly resume. Compared to its namesake RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures, there’s just no competition. This makes for a perfect lounge game to sit back, grab a coffee and chill for an hour or two while you build your masterpiece.