Frontier Developments released the legendary RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 back in 2004 with the support of Atari. The theme park construction and management video game took a giant step towards a new version, larger, more complete and in 3D, presenting us with multiple improvements in the visualization, construction and custom edition of roller coasters and new attractions. It was an ambitious series, which was expanded over the years and offering more and more options, theme packages and better graphics, becoming one of the indisputable references in the genre on PC. Time passed, and despite the expectations with RollerCoaster Tycoon World they were big, nothing was the same. The fourth installment did not convince anyone, and Frontier watched as its creation, once laureate, was led astray. Now, in 2020, an improved version arrives, with two included expansions and a series of adjustments that will allow us to enjoy the classic the tycoon genre on Nintendo Switch and PC (through Epic Games Store and Steam).
Building the dream RollerCoaster Park
RollerCoaster Tycoon is more than just a video game that allows us to create and build the theme park of our dreams. It is the entire package, a series that has been influenced for decades by hundreds of competitors and imitators, and that has been consolidated as an absolute reference within the genre. Created in 1999 by Chris Sawyer and Simon Foster, the vast majority of sequels and continuations of the RollerCoaster Tycoon series have a dedicated and loyal community, releasing mods, enhance the attractions and introduce new content to keep the gaming legacy alive. In recent years, the series has been stumbling, with a failed RollerCoaster Tycoon World, a failed spin-off called RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures and the occasional attempt to transfer the experience to mobile phones.
Don’t worry RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition is as good a game as the original, loaded with content and full of things to do. It is an adaptation of the bestseller that invited us to build the craziest and most complex roller coasters imaginable, all while trying to get the maximum economic return from visitors who enter our recreational complexes and resorts. The title will once again present us with an overwhelming combination of options, all while we build merry-go-rounds, roller coasters, haunted houses or even more risky hydraulic devices. The catalogue of attractions and mechanical elements, as you can imagine is huge, with a multitude of different themes that will go from fantasy to pirates, through terror, space and science fiction or safari, always presenting the possibility of discovering new ones and investigating so that our park always has the best imaginable facilities or the more attractive to visitors.
There is space for recreation, which is undeniable, but we must also offer a minimum of services, building fast food and refreshments stands, restaurants, services or places where you can rest momentarily while going from an attraction to another. The maintenance is also important attractions are very prone to rupture or break down, and never hurts to have a mechanic to take care of any arising issues. And what about the janitors and cleaners, whose role is essential and will have to offer optimal hygiene conditions to all clients of our theme resort. We can also hire guards and entertainment, as well as arrange night hours to perform spectacular games of lights and fireworks with which to liven up the waiting in the queues and earn some points in the presentation of our park or venue to the visitor. As in the original game, we can create our own visitor and explore or ride the attractions, an aspect that although it has become somewhat old over the years.
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition presents two great playable options that are very different from each other. We have the classic career mode, and secondly, the sandbox also very common in the genre. We have three great campaigns, thus finding the original of the third installment and those corresponding to the expansions Soaked! and Wild! , which add new attractions, themes and playable possibilities. The video game will present us with very different scenarios, with specific conditions and challenges, which we must solve if we want to get the best score, advance, get better rewards and unlock new missions. Depending on our success, the game will classify us in Apprentice, Entrepreneur or Tycoon, changing the difficulty between one and the other in broad strokes.
For example, the objectives that are set for us in Apprentice are usually relatively simple – to achieve a specific collection limit, place a specific attraction – but in Entrepreneur and Tycoon the complexity rises a few integers, sometimes being a real challenge to conform to what that we are asked specifically. Such as given a task to create an amusement park in Universal Studios Port Aventura style, we were required to have a very high roller coaster score – in the game, it is based on the emotion index-, and a deadline was set for its construction, a fact that was an engineering work in itself, as we had to demolish facilities and make enough space for it. Achieving it was a real struggle that almost brought us to ruin but, once achieved, it brought us a lot as players. Trust us, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition can be overwhelming. It has a catalogue of more than 300 attractions and roller coasters with which to try to capture the attention of visitors, more than 500 decoration elements, a catalogue of 60 shops and services and 20 different animals to raise and feed. Yes, you read correctly.
This edition comes packed with the expansions Soaked! and Wild! , which added new playable horizons to the base video game, as well as more challenges, own challenges in the campaign and more attractions. In Soaked! we have the possibility of building a water park, with slides, swimming pools and numerous attractions with water as the protagonist. For example, we have the Atlantis setting, which allows us to decorate our park with submerged ruins, add jet ski races or customize the omnipresent roller coasters with elements and props to match, such as sunken ships, giant octopuses or steampunk-style submarines… But with Wild! Frontier bet everything for everything, entering the universe of zoo management. It is not a game on its own, it must be taken into account, but it does present the option of being able to build a zoo from scratch, with enclosures of various types, feeders, viewpoints and other facilities for a very complete catalogue of animals, with 20 different species divided into males and females. We will have the possibility of opening our own biological reserve or our theme park with animals, with the same options as previously narrated but with the option of incorporating lions, tigers, zebras, giraffes, hippos, ostriches, elephants or antelopes, among many others, to spice up the recreational experience for tourists.
We have reviewed the Nintendo Switch version, both in portable mode and in docked mode. When it was announced, we thought that it would be a somewhat lazy conversion or even that options would be cut to adapt to the console control. A controller or Joy-Con does not work the same as the unbeatable keyboard and mouse combo, and that is undeniable. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition for Switch is a full version in options, without cuts of any kind, and the truth is that it is quite well in its portable mode, with an interface completely reimagined and designed for the Switch console.
The game presents two large separate radial menus, which we can access by pressing the upper buttons of the Joy-Con and then move with the joystick more or less comfortably through the different options. The icons are clear, and the menus, which will be displayed gradually, allow us to classify the contents according to the type or theme we want. Do we want to build an attraction or check on the finances or staff of our park? We press the upper button of the machine (R or L) and we start to browse what we need. It is a very classic system, tested in many previous games, and it works. Moving the camera is a bit more clumsy, and we will have to adjust the joystick of the Nintendo Switch controls to find the right sensitivity with which to move or move the buildings to the correct place where we want to place them.
It is a robust system, almost, but one that is quite uncomfortable and impractical when we go into details such as fine-tuning the camera – you have to press the left stick to do this – or building a roller coaster from scratch, choosing turns, turns and different heights. The first hours are a real blow against a wall, learning which button is the correct one or which combination is the ideal one to reach a certain option. That is why we recommend that you get into the sandbox mode and try until you find the settings that best suit you and take control. It is not the best in the world, of course, but it is very functional and even seems intelligent in some aspects.
With regard to the technical section, we have to highlight several things. The first is that the PC version is already compatible with panoramic screens, adjusting the aspect ratio automatically for this, as well as increasing the resolution to 1080p for the first time since its launch in 2004. It is a noticeable change, it gains a lot in definition since now we can observe in great detail what happens in our park, as well as gains in space and viewing area thanks to the 16: 9 setting. In the portable mode of Switch, it is played quite well, with a correct resolution – perhaps too many jaggies or saw teeth in some constructions and attractions-, and although the years do not pass in vain, it is even lustrous if we have a well designed and decorated park. But basically, despite the update, it is a game from more than fifteen years ago, with models, textures and animations that were very advanced at the time but that looks out of date today. We believe that it is perhaps the most controversial aspect, as it would not have hurt to add audiovisual improvements that would transform the game a bit, with higher quality textures, more complex modelling or more advanced lighting effects. But it is not a remake, it is an adaptation to high definition, and it has been chosen to preserve the main lines of the base game and compatible with the Nintendo Switch Pro Controller, the video game occupies about 2.8 GB if you purchase it as a digital download.
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition is a great opportunity to enjoy one of the best theme park management video games, as well as one of the most influential titles in the genre of recent times. We are talking about an edition that compiles very notable expansions focused on water parks and zoos, as well as incorporating improvements in resolution, aspect ratio or definition, something that is not bad to adapt to the times that run although it seems insufficient if we look at with magnifying glass. With a good control on Nintendo Switch -although it may take time to get used to first-, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 comes back to remind us that sometimes past times were better and that there are games that stand the test of time well.
We prepared this review with a digital review key for the Switch and PC version of the title provided by Heaven Media PR.