It’s one of the most famous and successful simulator game franchises in gaming history, spawner of a thousand memes. And it’s come to the Android platform in all its glory!
The version you want is by Atari, Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic. This is not limited to the first version, but incorporates RCT1 and RCT2. The expansion packs for Wacky Worlds, Time Twister, and Toolkit are available for in-app purchase, but everything else is in the package. You will want to grab the Toolkit though, as this includes the separate ride designer and level designer, plus a way to import / export files.
You want avoid all the freebie versions and knock-offs, however. Look for the Atari name in this case, and accept no substitutes. And what a blast from the past it is to be recommending Atari in 2020. Have you played Atari today?
Flawless port of Roller Coaster Tycoon
For a measly ~$6, this is a fantastic bang for your buck on Android mobile. The game has very few adaptations needed for the controls going from the desktop computer to Android. Recall also that the game was never that fast a pace, so it’s a forgiving environment while you fumble around getting used to it. What helps the port a lot is that the original games were mouse-intensive anyway, so converting to tapping the screen is an easy transition.
Here’s a full port review:
As started, there is virtually no change between the PC original and the Android port. Same maps, same rides, same concessions, same décor, same building tools, same guesting barfing all over your path until a handyman cleans it up, ditto. If you’re familiar with the PC interface, it won’t take long at all to transition to mobile’s interface. The biggest difference that I can see is that you can pinch to zoom in and out, and the menus got slightly juggled around. And of course, the shortcut keys are not an option here, but they were only alternative controls anyway.
Here’s another review, noting that the same port happened for Apple iOS iPad:
Back to park scenarios
RTC has remained consistent throughout its franchise history thanks to the vision of developer Chris Sawyer, who is talented, but has an eccentric view of how games work. He describes it in interviews as a “Lego-like philosophy.” Contrary to what you might expect from that statement, the one thing missing from every RCT iteration is a wide-open sandbox mode. Sawyer has refused to have one, insisting that this game is about passing the scenarios, and he will die on that isometric hill, dammit!
So yeah. Most of the scenarios (full wiki list here) are locked and you have to unlock them by passing the unlocked ones, in the usual game progression. But you’re a RCT fan is you’ve read this far, so you’re used to this by now. Like I say, get the Toolkit (another $6, chump change) and you have the ride designer, plus custom maps, and the Six Flags maps from RCT2 which are really close to sandbox modes anyway.
The fact which Chris Sawyer is blind to, and which most fans really don’t vocalize out loud, is that the scenarios are not the least bit challenging on any metric except PATIENCE. It’s almost impossible to lose a Roller Coaster Tycoon scenario.
More likely, you will have those 3K required visitors within six months while the map gives you three years. Too bad, there’s no “win early” button! You still have to sit there watching the clock slowly tick down the remaining time while your biggest problem is preventing visitor leak from increased maintenance. The speed control is still there, but even at the fastest speed the game crawls.
The other issue is the research mechanic. Again, even at the fastest speed, waiting for key technology like ATMs and more versatile coasters to drop is pins-and-needles torture. You’ll find yourself maxing out research funding, shutting off everything except for the research category you need, then setting the game down for half an hour and checking back to see if you got the thing you need. After you do, you’ll whip through that map in ten minutes flat, and then it’s time to start a new game on the next map where you have to wait another half hour for the top scientific minds of RTC to discover the high-tech possibilities of… the ATM again.
Meanwhile, the game allows tons of dirty tricks which allow you to pass scenarios in ways Chris Sawyer never intended. You can simply delete paths or bar them with “exit only” signs to keep guests from leaving the park. You can cure a low park rating by picking up the most unhappy guests and dropping them to drown in the pool. You can earn fast cash on a hot climate map by providing plenty of liquid refreshments and charging 30¢ (I’ve found this is the max tolerable price) to use the restroom, and on a rainy climate map simply by jacking up the price of umbrellas.
Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic strategy… Like you need one
The same time-tested tips and tricks we’ve been batting around on the Internet this entire century all still work here. Here’s just one video tips compendium (for desktop, and monetary units in euros, but the concepts are identical across platforms and currencies):
Passing scenarios to unlock every map is a process at odds with creativity. If you’re really keen to unlock every map as soon as possible, your best strategy is a non-nonsense, brutal, industrial approach. That’s my style anyway:
The Penguin Pete RCT plan:
Try to work with what attractions the map gives you to start with. Research is a gamble.
Never build a ride in-game. Pause, save, and use the ride designer, then plop the ride into the map at once.
Design every ride to have the smallest possible footprint.
Slap in a prefab ride, raise the price to the max tolerable price.
When ridership slacks, lower the price. When it gets to $1, delete it and plop in a new track.
And I mean, EVERY track-based ride can be optimized this way. Even bulky transport rides. There’s several track exchange resource sites all over the web. Get ready to look at some ugly decades-old pages though:
What I can’t believe is that, in over 20 years this game has had to stew on the Internet, nobody has simply put together a site for the smallest possible (but still rideable, safe, profitable) track design for each ride. I have assembled such a collection myself years ago, but that’s long lost on a hard drive to a desktop machine since melted down for scrap by now.
Maybe I’ll make such a resource someday. I half-forgot this game existed until the Android port made it relevant again. If anybody out there has knowledge of such a resource, please enlighten us all in the comments.
Of course, once you pass the scenarios and you’re ready to re-explore some maps for leisure, this is when you can get some payback…
Anyway, Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic is one of the most perfect and seamless ports to Android mobile we could expect. For a few dollars, this beats most Android games out there. It is a nostalgia kick for us oldsters, and bound to be a fresh discovery for new generations to come. Enjoy, and may all your rides max out their excitement ratings!