If you are old enough, you will probably have fond memories of the Bullfrog Games classic, Theme Park. The game where you founded your own amusement park from the ground up, and built exciting rides from a wooden roller coaster to a rubber tubing rapids. Theme Park was the ultimate in sandbox fun for the amusement park aficionado, and has rarely been challenged since its release way back in 1994. This week however, not one, but two games are released on Steam for the PC that will try to take the crown from that aging title. RollerCoaster Tycoon World and Planet Coaster both hit the shelves and both offer players the chance to design and run their very own thrill seekers paradise.
Both games will offer a similar challenge. Building a successful and exciting park that the virtual customers will love to spend time exploring and ultimately parting with their virtual money.
RollerCoaster Tycoon World is the latest in a long line of games under the same name from veteran developers Atari, that spans the last 15 years. It became available on Early Access in March, and received mixed feedback from the gaming community. Users cited poor graphics, lack of detail in the animations and buggy updates among the problems. The full version is released on the 16th November, and Atari are confident that thanks to consumer feedback they have fixed any issues people may have had. Fred Chesnais, the CEO of Atari has stated that, “Our vision for the latest instalment, RollerCoaster Tycoon World, is to recapture the spirit of the series while ensuring a next-generation experience.” He also adds; “we’re giving everyone from casual gamers to the most dedicated RollerCoaster Tycoon players a game they’ll recognize and enjoy, but experience in a whole new way.” Strong promises indeed. The game is set to include extensive customization tools, substantial park management systems and a seamless social media function allowing sharing your creations to be a large part of the action. It will be available via Steam, Linux and Windows and is priced at £29.99/$49.99.
It rival in the simulation category arrives a day later on the 17th November. Planet Coaster is made by Frontier Developments, the company behind Elite Dangerous. Social community interactions are also at the heart of this game. Players can share their rides, import or export other peoples, and edit and tweak them as they see necessary. This is just one part of the fun however. Planet Coaster has a boundless terraforming tool, many many different variations of ride, and also virtual customer interaction at its center. The game has also been subject to Early Access scrutiny, and as recently as last week got a pre-release update that added things such as balloon shops, doubling the size of land available to build your park in, and three new rides (among other extras.) The customization of your park and rides, seems to be at the heart of what Frontier Developments are trying to achieve. They promise to pay plenty of attention to what the community can bring to their game. They wrote, “Every supportive post, share of your great content and kind word really does help spur the team on and is a vital part of the development of Planet Coaster.” Visually stunning and varied, the game looks to ooze playability. Being able to ride your own roller coasters in first person, check on your staff from their own eyes and interact with your customers face to face, Planet Coaster seems to tick all the boxes for this genre. It is clear that the developers want their game to be the more rounded and successful of the two. They will also hope they can win new fans away from the already large fan-base of RollerCoaster Tycoon. Planet Coaster will be available via Steam for £26.99/$40.49.
Amusement Park Simulations look to have come a very, very long way from the 90’s. The famously unreliable Bouncy Castle from the Bullfrog original may be a thing of the past, but the core of what makes a great game is still unchanged. What will ultimately decide who is the king of the thrill seekers is playability and longevity. Both titles boast customization, both titles have great visual impact and both promise unique park management. The battle lines have been drawn, and simulation game fans will have to make up their own mind.
Keep checking Irrelevant Gamer for an upcoming review of the Frontier Developments game Planet Coaster, after its release later in the week. Perhaps that can help with your decision.