The RollerCoaster Tycoon Review

System Requirements:
• Operating System: Windows ’95
• CPU: 200 MHz Pentium 1
• RAM: 32 MB
• Hard drive space: 167 MB
• Optical disc drive: 4 × speed CD-ROM type
• Video card: DirectX 3 or Glide compatible (3Dfx) type with 2 MB of VRAM. (DirectX 5 comes with the game.)
My Recommendation:
A 500 MHz Pentium 2 or Pentium 3 CPU, and more drive space for screen shots and save files. A newer dual core or multi-core CPU is probably better, because the game will always use all the free oomph of a single CPU core.

Windows XP and later versions of Windows NT require a patch. The game will usually run fine in Windows 7 using just the 256 colours setting. The game will also run without problems on copies of Windows that are installed in VirtualBox.

RollerCoaster Tycoon is one of those brilliantly addictive games that will have you at your computer for hours at a time without even realising it. There are a whole bunch of amusement parks which either need to be built up from pretty much nothing, or overhauled into something a lot more successful. Each park has a goal as well, such as having a certain amount of guests and park rating at the end of a particular season, or perhaps a decent company value.
You can choose whether you want measurements in imperial or metric, and various currencies. As I’m an Aussie, I’ll be using metric with dollars and cents.
You will get money to start using, but it’s a loan from the bank which needs to be repaid, and you get charged interest on it too. So you’ll want to get in some money making rides from the start to eventually pay back the loan. You can only borrow up to a certain amount as well. Loan repayments can only be done in $1000 blocks, so get ready when your cash gets up around $900.
Not all the rides are available from the beginning. You’ll need to pay to research new ideas. You can however choose what kind of things to look into, such as roller coasters, thrill rides, shops, scenery, and ride improvements. You also get to choose whether to spend no money on research, a minimal, normal or maximum amount. Some simple rides only have one basic design, but others can be customised. Roller coasters can be built to your own designs, so long as all the pieces fit together, and stuff doesn’t crash. You can also do certain custom water rides and go-kart tracks. The go-karts are super popular, and if you have an exciting track, people will pay the initial price for an age. Their other bonus, is that they have a low nausea rating, so more people will be inclined to have a go. Queue times can be pretty long though, so don’t make it something like 10 laps. Any rides you design can be saved for future use, however you can’t save a sample picture like the ones that come with the game. Usually a ride’s settings will be saved too, such as the colouring and operation methods. In most cases, you can do a test run of a ride before you open it. That way you can check to see if it’s working as expected, or if it needs adjustments.
As well as keeping the guests amused, you really need to provide toilets, otherwise people will leave the park. You wouldn’t see this happening in real life in Australia, but you can actually charge money for the latrines. I usually make it 10¢ and no more. If you only have a couple of loos, they can eventually make a profit! But like everything, there is a running cost, so you’ll want to keep your income above that, especially for rides. When you 1st open the park, it’s best to charge nothing until you start adding in attractions. Then make it about $1 and work up a little bit at a time as you go. You can charge about $1 for the merry-go-round initially, but over time, people will lose interest, and refuse to pay that much, and you’ll end up reducing it down to 20¢ after a couple of years. People will comment that your park entrance fee is cheap, if it really is, but don’t get too greedy. You still want them to pay for other things once they get in.
If you need to get a certain amount of people in by a certain date, promotions are the way to go. You can offer half priced & free entry vouchers, plus coupons for free food & drinks, and also have advertising campaigns. Offering freebies and half priced stuff is usually the best way to get people in.
Nobody likes stepping in vomit, (unless you’re warped,) so you’ll need handymen to clean the park up on a constant basis. You can set a working area for them, plus whether they sweep, empty bins, water the gardens or mow the grass. You’ll only want them mowing when you’ve got a bunch of other guys doing the other tasks and money to burn. Then again some parks don’t have grass. Even at the best of times, it’s wise to go on a puke patrol, and pick up your little dudes and drop them down in problem areas. Your park can get awards for being tidy, beautiful, safe and of great value. Other staff you can have, are security guards, mechanics and entertainers. You really need mechanics to inspect and repair the rides. After a while they’ll wear out, and over time they get more and more unreliable.
One of the worst breakdowns you can have on a roller coaster is a station brakes failure when it has more than 1 train. They can crash and explode and kill people, and that’s not good for its reputation. If you have other poorly designed rides, people might get launched off. It’s also possible for people to drown, so be careful.

A park with this reputation is bound to be appealing.
This is one plop-ular toilet! That’s something like 20 people per minute, or about 1 person every 3 seconds.
Pokey Park is really cramped, but you can purchase more land nearby and construction rights to get to it.
Thunder Rock will have you looking under the ground quite a bit, and rotating the view. This is one of the more unique parks.

Sometimes you might get interested in your guests, so you can monitor what they’re doing, as well as name them. You can pick up anybody who isn’t on a ride, and put them somewhere else, which is useful if they’re really hungry, thirsty, or in need of a dunny. Although they may miss what you’re aiming for and just keep walking.
Souvenirs are nice, and if you have shop research enabled, you can get places selling balloons and cuddly toys. Some rides also have a special photo section, so people can purchase a photo of themselves. For parks where it rains a lot, having an information kiosk is great to get people to buy umbrellas. Plus maps are popular too.
Putting trees in around rides is a plus — it increases the excitement level, and that’s always something you want. Rides that are next to each other, or even run through each other can have this effect too. When you’re building paths, sometimes you just want one to run between 2 particular points, but a ride or 2 might be in the way, with it too high to go over. Well, go under! Yep — you can have tunnels below the ground level to get people from one place to another.
One of the parks — Rainbow Valley — doesn’t let you make any changes to the landscape due to local authority restrictions, so this one requires a lot of thought for setting things out, and placing paths. Sometimes you’ll have to put them into weird places in order to work.
When you complete the goals of all the parks, a bonus Mega Park becomes available, and the goal for this is just to have fun! You get a shed load of money for it, it’s absolutely huge, and I think you get every ride and attraction there is from the beginning. This is a great opportunity to make up new roller coaster designs to use in any of the other parks if you start them over.

You can use the map to quickly zip from one area of a park to another by clicking on it. The yellow rectangle will show you the current location.
By selecting a person, a little window will show you what they’re up to. In the case of staff, you can also adjust where they work with the blue footprints, sack them with the bin, adjust what they do in the tab with the hand, and see what they’ve done on the tab with the paper. The pincers will pick them up, and the red arrows will move the main view to where they are.

When you complete the goal for a park, you get to enter in your name for the scenario chart, and all the guests who’ve bought a balloon will release them to celebrate, and everybody will turn to face you and clap. It’s a good idea to make a save file just before the goal is reached, such as on the last day. That way if you need to re-install the game at any stage, you can just reload the save and that park will be completed. You can copy over your old files and stuff in some other method, but from what I recall, it’s quite awkward.
Moving around in the game is fairly easy. You can use the arrow keys on your keyboard, optionally move your mouse cursor to the edge of the screen, or best of all, just right click and drag. The view can be rotated in 90° steps, and there are 2 further out zoom levels as well.
The game will run at 640 × 480 pixels, 800 × 600 & also 1024 × 768 pixels in Windows XP & Windows 7. However, it was also possible to run it at other resolutions, such as 1152 × 864 pixels, when I had Windows ME, so it may vary. You can also choose a “window mode”, and stretch things to more custom resolutions. But considering that everything remains the same size, and that you just see more at higher resolutions, you might want to settle on a setting that’s optimal for the size of your monitor. You don’t want to be squinting. I like it at 1024 × 768 pixels in a full screen mode. That way you can fit enough stuff in, and things aren’t too small to be seen.
Screen shots are saved in PCX format, but even though they’re in 8 bit colour, you can get more space saved by converting them to PNG. A program like IrfanView can batch process a bunch of pictures in a flash. (Even my trusty old copy of Corel Photo-Paint 8, which is older than the game, can do a batch conversion. )
Save files are just over ½ a MB usually, depending on the size of the park, and rides are very small, at just a few hundred bytes, unless you have a very big and complex roller coaster. You will need the CD in your drive to play this, and thankfully this is a game you can backup to a new CD without trouble either.

Paradise Pier has no land. It’s all on the water. Construction space here is limited, and you really need to cram things in.
The finances section shows you what you’re spending money on, what you’re making money on, and promotions too.

All up, RollerCoaster Tycoon is a classic, and still great to play now in 2024. I got my copy around the 2nd of May, 2003, but I’d played a friend’s copy before that. Anyway, there are loads of ways to tackle the parks, and you’ll want to spend hours on it at a time. Once parks get busy, so will you! There’s so much stuff to oversee, you won’t have time to stop for long.

Lots of little details, but it’s pretty much all 2D sprite action. Don’t expect super fancy effects, like changing lighting conditions, cloud shadows and reflections. It’s well done for a game of this type, and it’s really out-shone by the addictiveness of it. The menu style is sensible as well, and you do get a few Windows related dialogue boxes for naming and saving stuff. 80%
Sound: The fairground organ style music really suits the game, and there are loads of other noises, like people laughing, being sick, cheering and screaming. Sometimes you hear voices that sound like: “Loogin googin” and something that sounds uncannily like: “I’m a trainee.” There’s also rain, thunder, and even stuff for changing the landscape, like water noises, dirt and plenty of ride effects. You also get the audio positioned in stereo to where you are. 90%
The detail in the animations is impressive, considering how tiny some stuff is. People will bend over to puke, they walk smoothly and there are neat staff animations too. Some rides have noticeable changes in the animation, where there aren’t quite enough frames to make it perfectly smooth. Mostly very good though. 85%
Easy to play when you know how. You can change key assignments too. 90%
There’s a truckload of stuff you can do, including things to carry on with when you park does reach its goal. If you like landscaping as well, there’s plenty keep you hooked for months. 95%
A superbly made game that you should at least try once in your life. And then there’s RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 and the expansion packs as well! 92%

You can also get RollerCoaster Tycoon for the XBOX.
Check out some of my rides I made here.