As soon as I became aware RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe was heading to Xbox I could hardly contain my excitement. This is because I’m a huge fan of the original games (the first two anyhow). When I was but a wee boy it was this versus Theme Park World in the battle of the funfair simulators. I always preferred RollerCoaster Tycoon as it felt like a more realistic simulator boasting a plethora of options to tinker with.
This release is actually a bumper edition of the game released on Nintendo Switch a few years back. The “Deluxe” tag means this latest iteration of the game comes complete with loads of new rides and attractions, along with a few enhanced features.
For those unaware, the RollerCoaster Tycoon series gives you the freedom to build the theme park of your dreams, along with some truly stomach churning rides. Not only this but you’ll need to maintain the park and keep your visitors happy to meet a series of metrics and ensure success.
This time around there is a good selection of coasters, split down by type. The edit tool is user friendly and this is where the simplified approach pays off (more on that later). In other games of this ilk, such as Park Beyond, it was very fiddly, but here extras such as rails used to drag the coaster up an incline are automatically installed. Each node is easily accessible too, so you can make any adjustments you wish including adding all sorts of crazy loops and spirals.
Extra park attractions can be unlocked through research, and levelling up and earning better permits will allow physical expansion of your park also. To gain better permits, you will need to raise the value of your park through aggressive expansion.
Visitors to your park are called “peeps” (which for some reason mildly infuriates me) who will make their thoughts and feelings very clear. These materialise in the form of bubbles above their head, and give you a hint on what you need to adjust in the park to keep things ticking along nicely.
RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe boasts a revamped UI alongside its admittedly generous amount of attractions to build. However, I have a big problem with this entry in the series. It feels like the gameplay has been toned right down when compared to its roots. It’s more tightly structured (almost as if stabilisers have been whacked on) and has clearly taken influence from the likes of the Two Point games and even Park Beyond to an extent. The effect? It limits the target audience rather significantly.
First off, I’m not a fan of the new graphical style. It technically looks better but it’s still incredibly basic. The building and character models also lack detail, and other similar games have much, much more to offer in this space. Upon first glance it could easily be called “my first theme park simulator”. That’s the tone it strikes.
There are several features missing when compared to the original games also. For example, there is no queueing system for your rides. As soon as you open them up people are seen enjoying them instantly. The design of each ride has a queueing area but the “peeps” just vanish inside as they approach.
Weirdly for a sim game, you won’t be managing staff either. Instead you’ll build a janitor’s building, for example, and then one will automatically spawn and get to work. You can’t manage them, but instead just build more structures as your park expands to meet demand. There is also no option to inspect each individual visitor either. Even the original had a deeper level of insight than this.
The terrain and decoration options have been slimmed right down too. Benches and lights are automatically installed on paths for example. However, you’ll need to erase a footpath before you can install any decorations or scenery. It’s fiddly to say the least.
The difficulty is also very lenient. For example, my food provision rating was at 1% (I hadn’t built a single place for visitors to eat or drink) yet park happiness was sat at a healthy 58%. I suffered no consequences whatsoever for this, instead just being allowed to sail through with my decisions having very little impact on my chances of success.
Usually in these types of games you’ve got to ensure your revenue more than covers your costs to make a profit. However in RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe I couldn’t find any evidence of me having to pay costs anywhere. None deducted, no financial history, it was just all about the money I had generated and the value of my park. This is a fundamental omission (perhaps on purpose) which almost completely strips out almost any risk or challenge in the game. As I say, stabilisers.
The pace also feels pretty darn slow due to how streamlined the gameplay is. You’ll need that fast forward button to quickly build up any sort of meaningful income after spending your cash, to begin with at least. You can pause the action to take a breath and gather your thoughts, but annoyingly you can’t build anything when you’ve paused the action, so I’m not sure what the point of this feature actually is given the absence of any threat of failure.
On a more positive note, the new layout works pretty well on console. The menus are clear, simple and easy enough to navigate overall. The button for quitting out of your current scenario is hidden away though. You’ll need to head into the settings menu and only then will a little window appear in the bottom right corner. Also it would be helpful to be able to see the number of each type of attraction you have in your park, as there are a fair few to choose from as you research them; keeping track of what you have and haven’t built can be difficult.
There are three ways to play RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe. The first is adventure mode, where you will be challenged to several missions tied together by a paper thin story. The only real difference is the environment skin and soundtrack in the background. Each mission plays exactly the same.
Every now and then you’ll be offered a choice to make, which could net you some extra income. One such choice earned me an extra million coins, and all I lost was one small ride worth a couple of thousand. That’s right. One. Million. It felt like cheating and wiped out any thought needed when spending my cash.
Rather oddly, each part of the adventure isn’t unlocked as you play, they are all available from the beginning. There are no actual goals to meet either, it’s all about just hitting criteria to unlock new rides and attractions for your park. Permits also restrict you on how many roller coasters you can have in your park at one time which is a bit rubbish.
But then, almost at random and without warning, a screen will pop up declaring you have completed that part of the adventure and you’re gifted with FIVE MILLION more coins, despite not being at the max permit level. Structurally, it feels off. Especially as you can just dive into Sandbox mode with everything unlocked if you want to mess around with no strings attached.
That’s right, Sandbox comes with no constraints such as cash, so you can go wild and experiment as you start at the maximum permit, and therefore have everything unlocked from the beginning. Or the career option allows you to play the usual way, but this feels identical to adventure mode and almost entirely redundant.
Finally, the scenarios are missions set against more specific conditions that have the usual three tiered goal system to hit (you know, bronze, silver and gold). Most of the time there are two objectives to hit, but they are very simple and repetitive. For example, you’ll need to build a certain number of rides in your park or keep visitor numbers above a certain level for a specific amount of time. However, to reach the higher accolades you simply need to push the original objectives a little further. These are all things you need to do anyway in order to run a successful operation.
For younger gamers RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe is a perfectly enjoyable park sim. You could say it’s a good introduction to the genre even. For the rest, it’s certainly missing the thrills and compared to the original series it feels shallow and stripped down. Some may view it as a spin off, and that’s fine. But it’s presented as part of the same series as the fantastic games that came years before, and that’s why it’s only right to compare it to them. It’s also pretty darn expensive for what you get.
If you want my advice (and I’m sure you do) the series needs to go back to its roots. That is an in-depth, nerdy and sometimes overwhelming park simulator where the complex gameplay structure offers oodles of variety in every park you build. Sadly, RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe is far away from that, and worse off for it.
RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures Deluxe is a shadow of the game it originated from, despite being a decent entry level park simulator on its own merits.