Do all older games need a re-release / re-master? Or are some better left in the past? RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition had me thinking about exactly that.
Like many, my first experience with sim bulders was with Theme Park, but I soon discovered Frontier and the Rollercoaster Tycoon series. Frontier’s efforts took the genre to another level for me and made Theme Park a difficult game to pick up again.
I played Rollercoaster Tycoon on Xbox, before getting Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 and 3 on PC. There was something spectacularly immersive about the series. Probably down to being able to ride your attractions in the park.
For someone like me, Rollercoaster Tycoon felt accessible from the outset and enjoyable to play. Something other sim management games failed actually to get right. Essentially becoming a spreadsheet with graphics. That wasn’t Frontier’s idea though, they managed to have a game with tons of depth but still be fun.
However, I hadn’t touched Rollercoaster Tycoon in over a decade, let alone thought about it. It seemed a series that was now dead, having been long left in the past as a series of new sim titles came our way.
Titles such as Two Point Hospital, Parkitect and even Frontier’s own Planet Coaster, Jurassic World Evolution, Planet Zoo and many more. However, getting a chance to play RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition had me rather excited, as this was the pinnacle around 2005 and it set the standard for everything that came after.
The problem I had was likely my format of choice. Playing RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition on the Switch left me frustrated with the experience and reminded me how many QoL improvements there have been in the likes of Planet Coaster.
Whilst the core game is still there and pretty much fit like a glove upon returning, it needed an overhaul of the controls for the Switch. Every moment felt like I was fighting the controls and it was trying its hardest to stop me having fun.
This ranged from awful camera controls, to shoddy menu navigation and even issues with putting items and paths down. It all feels like it was ignored and I cannot tell to what end. For all I care, this could have been left as is in terms of visuals and gameplay and had all the time spent on making the controls work on a modern system.
It is a let down, because the graphics feel of the mid-2000s in all the best ways. There is a ton of character and it feels wonderfully retro. Games from that era always struggle to age well, especiallyu compared to games from the late-80s to mid-90s. Yet here is one that maintains a charm.
Gameplay wise it shows the core mechanics which are still the basis for all modern sim games. It is satisfying to progress and I really wanted to spend more and more time with it. But those controls… they pretty much ruin the experience.
The experience on the Switch that is. Thankfully I was able to get RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition on the Epic Games Store via one of their weekly giveaways and on the PC it is every bit as good as I remember. A game that was designed for PC play and is still strongest on that platform.
If you do want to jump back in to RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition then as it stands do so on Steam or Epic and hope for a patch to fix controls on the Switch.
For the game itself. It is really only for those who want a bit of a nostalgia trip. Whilst the core of the game is still great and forms tghe basis for modern games in the genre. It has been surpassedin almost every way and if youi want a better experience you really should be dedicating your time to Planet Coaster.
However, I won’t lie, I am glad I got to go back and exeprience RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 one last time and I am grateful that games like this can be made accessible and for the right price you should get it. Just not on the Switch.