Review – RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe

RCTAD-Key Art with Logo

Overview

Developer Graphite Lab, Nvizzio Creations
Publisher Atari
Genre Theme Park Simulator
Platforms Switch, PlayStation, XBox
Release Date 2023

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe brings the classic theme park simulator to the Nintendo Switch. With gameplay that has been significantly streamlined, how does it compare to other entries in the series? Let’s find out!

Review

I cut my teeth on RollerCoaster Tycoon, and to this day, it remains one of my all-time favorite video games. Countless hours of my life have been spent building out Dynamite Dunes, charging guests to use the bathroom, and drowning them when they complained about the park.

At face value, RCT Adventures Deluxe looks like a new-age version of an old-school classic. Under the surface, however, are notable mechanistic changes that fundamentally alter the experience. Broadly speaking, this game feels like a simplistic, zoomed-out version of the RCT system, and that’s not a good thing.

While the earlier games in this series emphasized the minutiae of running a theme park — things beyond just building rides, like planning queueing lines and managing staff and guests — Adventures Deluxe downplays or even removes some of these core elements. In doing so, it loses many of the aspects that made the original games so compelling.

For example, in this new version, an attraction only has to have a single path to it in order to be accessible. The path serves as both the entrance and exit, which minimizes the decisions of how traffic should flow into and out of the ride. 

Also, park guests (or, “Peeps,” as they are cringely called) still have opinions about things from time to time, but they aren’t remotely interesting. One thing I always enjoyed in the original games was being able to randomly check in on a guest to see how hungry/nauseated he is, how much cash he has in his pocket, etc., and this is not an option in Adventures Deluxe. From time to time, a guest might have a thought bubble about a ride being broken down or something, but that’s about the extent of the guest interaction. It might as well not even be in the game.

Even the staffing mechanisms are dumbed down. In the early RCT games, players had to think about how many handymen, mechanics, etc. to hire, as well as what they should be doing (i.e. Handyman 1 should focus on mowing grass, Handyman 2 should focus on emptying garbage cans, etc.). In Adventures Deluxe, players simply build the appropriate facility (e.g. a Janitor’s Closet), and the staff automatically appear and start working — any sense of player agency is removed from the equation.

Players can still decorate their park, but simple staples like benches and garbage cans are absent. It’s not like there was ever much strategy as to where these things went, but there was a real sense of satisfaction that came from building a lovely seating area for guests or a walking path lit by rows of lampposts.

It feels strange to say that a game I played on Windows 2000 looks better than one on the Switch, but such is the case here. Obviously, the resolution of the new version is much sharper than the old CD-ROM games, but the overall aesthetic of this game is very plain. I do like the flashy details on the rides themselves, but on the whole, this game lacks the stylistic elements that made the original series look so great. For example, rather than the grass being comprised of multiple, pixelated hues to make it look textured, it now looks mostly monochromatic.

I realize I might sound like a crusty old nostalgic, opining about how things used to be better back in the day, but RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe genuinely feels like a step backward for this series. There is nothing wrong with updating a game’s mechanisms, but this version streamlines away much of what made the originals so great. The classic RollerCoaster Tycoon games were fun because of all their nuances, all the things players had to manage and consider. By removing (or at least significantly reducing) these mechanisms, players are left with what feels like a shell of a franchise.

I struggle to recommend RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe. Admittedly, this may be in part because of my own history with the series, but I feel that this game, in an attempt to streamline the play experience, loses the magic of the old-school RollerCoaster Tycoon games. As such, I’ll stick with with the originals.

A review copy was provided by the publisher.

The Bottom Line

 

In an attempt to streamline the RollerCoaster Tycoon gameplay, this game loses much of what made the original series so enjoyable. Some folks may like the more simplified structure, but personally, I will stick with the classic RCT games.

 

5

Posted in , ,

Stephen Hall

A bard pretending to be a cleric. Possibly a Cylon, too. I was there when they dug up the "E.T." cartridges.

Leave a Reply