RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition Review

The RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise has had a bit of an up and down history the last few years. The 3 most recent titles (RollerCoaster Tycoon World, RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures and RollerCoaster Tycoon Story) have all been huge misses. Instead of doubling down on what made the series great, the previous 3 attempts have tried widely different and mobile-centric ideas, and all have not been met with a good receptions. Things have now changed in a very good way. With RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition, we go back to a series high point. For those looking for amazing RollerCoaster Tycoon fun on Nintendo Switch, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition is a fun ride you won’t want to get off.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 originally released on PC back in 2004 and shortly after release received 2 expansion packs (Soaked! and Wild!). The game was pulled off PC digital stores in 2018 but now returns as a complete package. It also gets its first console release on Nintendo Switch, which is the version we are reviewing here (I’ll refer to the game as RCT3 throughout).

What makes RCT3 such a fun game is that it is the culmination of all the great aspects of the games before it. It’s taken the simple approach RCT had of being a park sim and upping the game by adding new levels of detail to the gameplay. Beforehand, you could simply build pre-made roller coasters. In RCT3, you get to build your own custom coaster and ride on it. The Coaster Cam actually lets you be one of your guests, experiencing the ride firsthand. It’s a great level of detail that lets you see how that ride isn’t that thrilling, or maybe it’s too rough for its own good. The addition of a day/night cycle is also a unique addition to the game as different rides appeal to different people at different times. Teens like to go on rides at night, while families and children enjoy the daytime. It’s small touches like this that take what the previous games did so well and make it just a bit better.

There’s also just a ton of things to do in RCT3. There are 2 main modes, career and sandbox. Sandbox mode is like a classic sandbox mode, letting you have access to an empty park and build it up to your heart’s content. It’s an unbelievably fun mode that you can easily sink hours into on its own. Yet the secretly awesome mode is career mode. I say secretly because on the surface it just seems like a standard “run a theme park”-like mode. It’s a bit different though as each step in your career mode provides completely new and unique challenges. Each park you can play in has simple goals that must be met by a certain timeframe. “Get 300 guests into your park” and “Make $100 in concessions a month” are examples of simple tasks you might be given. Yet each park has multiple levels of tasks, Apprentice, Entrepreneur, and Tycoon, and each level has a more difficult set of tasks. What starts off as a simple task quickly turns into quite a challenge, like “Build 3 Roller Coasters with an excitement rating greater than 7.0 before your VIP guests arrive.” Career mode doesn’t take it easy on you, and it’s part of the fun. There are a bunch of challenges in career mode and even more challenges in career mode in both the Soaked! and Wild! expansion packs included.

I’ve been playing this game on Nintendo Switch and can say the Switch version is fantastic. The game looks and runs extremely well and finally gives the Switch a great roller coaster management game (RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures was quite awful). I’ve spent an even amount of time playing the game in both docked and handheld modes. Either way you play, you’re getting a great experience.

The only major issue with the game is the controls. Remember, this is a PC game being brought to Switch. On a PC, controlling the cameras and various menus and sub-menus are split between the mouse and WASD on the keyboard. On Switch, moving uses the left thumbstick, right thumbstick is camera, and in order to get to the menus, you either have to press and hold ZL or ZR. At first this can feel a bit too complicated. For the first hour or so, I was always pressing the wrong button or backing out of a menu when I didn’t intend to. Believe it or not, after that initial hour, everything clicks, and the control scheme isn’t an issue. Just realize there’s a bit of a learning curve initially.

Developer: Frontier Developments (original game and expansion packs), QLOC (Nintendo Switch port)

Publisher: Frontier Developments

Platforms: Nintendo Switch, PC

Release Date: 24th September 2020

Gaming Respawn’s copy of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition was provided by the publisher.

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