RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures
With RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures, it's now possible to build the themepark of your dreams while on the go with your Nintendo Switch, but you may find the experience less than dreamlike. Come inside for my full review of the game!
Everyone knows I'm a huge sucker for sim management games. Sinking into the gameplay and being able to construct something to my specifications is a lot of fun for me and I'm thrilled more and more of them are coming to the Nintendo Switch. While I love these types of games, I rarely have the chance to sit down with these games and give them my full time and attention. With a toddler running around the house, focusing on the computer (where most of these games reside) for any length of time isn't easy to do.
On the Switch, however, I can play in spurts and not worry about rushing tasks because I can put it quickly into sleep mode and come back at my leisure. As such, I've been eager to gobble up any strategy/sim games that have come to the platform. Games like Prison Architect have made excellent transitions (along with Stardew Valley and even Civ VI), but not all of them have worked well.
Unfortunately, RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures falls into the latter category. Don't get me wrong here, there's plenty that I enjoyed about the game and the first few hours of playtime with it felt highly addictive and like the original RollerCoaster Tycoon experience you remember.
The basics of the game are fairly straightforward. Adventures is essentially a port of the RollerCoaster Tycoon mobile game, though it's been buffed up considerably. There's no secondary money systems or microtransactions. You pay for the full unlocked game and get to mess with it however you want. The controls worked incredibly well, and something I enjoyed a great deal about the game. Not every game with roots on the PC make the transition to console controls smoothly, but Adventures does a solid job of combining the controller and touchscreen to make for a relatively user friendly layout. It's easy enough to layout your rides/decorations to your heart's content, manage your patrons and individual attractions, and build your own rides with the controls.
You have three different play modes to choose from: Adventure, Scenario, and Sandbox. Adventure mode is a fairly standard "story mode" where you build up a park, make choices, and have a hint of story to keep you going through it. Scenario is the old-school mode of play where you're given specific goals to meet within your park before moving forward. Sandbox mode is where the gloves are off, everything is unlocked, and you can do whatever you want with your theme park.
There is, technically, a fourth mode in the tutorial stages, which I would encourage just about everyone to go through (even veterans to the franchise). The tutorials do a great job of introducing the various features of THIS entry to you, while making the controls feel instantly familiar. Thus, when you jump into one of the primary game modes, you won't feel lost.
It plays much like every other RollerCoaster Tycoon game and I found myself sucked into the gameplay relatively quickly. So what's the problem? There are a couple issues with the game, though you may not notice them until later. Getting started with your park is fairly smooth, but once you begin expanding and adding more and more rides...the technical limitations show themselves. The lag is real.
It's not terrible at first, but as you add more rides through your park with their own dedicated animations, with hundreds (or thousands) of visitors walking around with reaction balloons popping up, and you're scrolling around to make minor adjustments to your decor...everything slows down considerably. Worse, there are times where the game just seems overwhelmed with all that's going on and begins to have other technical issues. Among these are menus suddenly not selecting the things you tell it to, or cycling between options you didn't choose, and at worst it crashes altogether. It's incredibly frustrating when you're in the groove of building things and everything grinds to a halt.
Beyond the technical problems, some other issues (stemming from the game itself) limit RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures' potential. For one, the themes you're given feel a bit limited. Don't get me wrong, you can absolutely build some incredible Sci-Fi/Western themed parks with the tools you're given, but if you want to branch out and do something truly unique, you're out of luck. More so, it lacks much of the depth of a full-on management sim. Sure, you can adjust prices for rides, but on the whole, you're not able to delve into the nitty gritty management tasks.
For instance, if patrons complain that a ride has broken down, there's not much you can do. You can't control/alter the paths of your maintenance people. Instead you have to make sure you have enough maintenance/repair sheds in close proximity and hope they'll get to it sooner rather than later (same goes for janitorial duties). While this isn't necessarily a bad thing, it does take away some of the challenge of the game, and I suspect more diehard Tycoon fans will find it a bit too easy.
For the most part, I know this review feels like I'm coming down hard on RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures. Ultimately, though, it comes down to the feeling of missed opportunity. The game has flashes of great times and in many ways is still highly addictive. What's presented can still be fun (once you're past technical problems), but it's limitations keep the replay value down and only remind you of what's missing.