Release Date: December 13th, 2018 (Nintendo Switch)
Genre: Simulation, Strategy
Developer: Nivzzio Creations
ESRB: Everyone (Comic Mischief)
As previously stated a couple months ago in my Prison Architect review, I used to put a ton of time into construction and management simulation (CMS) games. I tended to gravitate to the business management simulators (see the games with “Tycoon” in the name), and while my gaming tastes have evolved over time, I have never passed up a chance to play a new CMS game. This has included the absolutely fantastic gems in Stardew Valley and Game Dev Tycoon. Though it is common knowledge that CMS games are much better suited for PC, gamers love seeing these games come to consoles. In steps in the Atari-published RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures, which is in fact a follow-up to the mobile game RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch. After a universally panned crowd-funding campaign, the game has seen its release on the Nintendo Switch. Let’s see if this is an adventure worth taking or if it is all downhill from here.
Luckily, since this is a follow-up to a mobile game, the controls seem more console-friendly and less restrictive due to it not being ported from the PC. I also appreciate that the entire screen- almost by default given its roots- can be controlled via touch controls, including pausing the game and going into menus. Not a lot of third-party games have taken that capability to great lengths. This also nips in the bud one of my biggest complaints about Prison Architect: there is an easy to navigate and understand menu. Everything is clearly laid out and in a good spot for the player. There is no need to dig for an option or to go to a different option than makes sense to do what is wanted. This leads to a somewhat lacking menu as far as options. However, I would rather have a scant menu than an overly complicated one. The issue is that using the analog sticks to move things into place or draw a Rollercoaster is hardly fluid at all.
This is somewhat countered by the fact that there are pre-made rollercoasters that are editable once they are placed by the player. The game also does a really good job in the tutorial mode of keeping it short between the two scenarios and teaching the player how to edit the rollercoasters, among other things. Other than the tutorial, the other three modes for players are adventure (starting from the bottom and growing your amusement park), scenario (specific challenges), and sandbox (where anything goes). The adventure mode includes a bit of a story to it, but it falls short to the scenario mode that features sixteen distinct challenges where you have set clear goals. The issue there, though, is that the challenges usually are based on park value, yet it is not clear what increases the value and by how much. Not even the much-appreciated tips on the loading screens includes information on this.
The general gameplay loop is placing buildings, paths, decorations, amusement rides, and, of course, rollercoasters in the confines of the given land. It is not a complicated loop at all, but it does allow gamers to add a bit of creativity to the proceedings if they so wish. For most, this will be a game used to turn the brain off and just have some mindless fun while the dedicated players will look at data and the feedback from the “Peeps,” or people. The latter comes from the Sims and Sim City franchises and gives players an easily visible feedback system should they not dive deep into the data the game has available to them in the various menus and indicators. There is nothing new here and the game makes no effort to try to till new ground to provide wrinkles for grizzled CMS veterans.
When it boils down to it, RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures does not have much of a soul or reason to stick around after a few hours, or the completion of the challenges section of the game. It is a mundane game that is too watered-down for true CMS players. While it may be a better pickup for more casual players, I can’t help but feel disappointed that this was developed solely for the Switch and ended up in such a sorry state. After a rather bumpy crowdfunding campaign, one would have hoped the developers would have made sure to release a better product. Unfortunately, this is not the case and, sadly, almost vindicates the backlash they received during that period. As stated earlier, there may be a player-base of casuals that could find some enjoyment in the game, but hardcore CSM players will steer away. (Ryan Williford; Gaming Editor)
Review copy provided by Atari.