Version Reviewed: 1.0.2
App Reviewed on: iPad Air 2
Graphics / Sound Rating:
User Interface Rating:
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It's been a while since I've experienced a management sim like RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, which recently emerged on the App Store as a "pay once and play" port of the PC original. This version is largely the same as it was in 2004, albeit with touch controls. This may stir up feelings of nostalgia for some, but that doesn't mean it isn't a bit clunky in its transition to iOS.
Like every RollerCoaster Tycoon game, this is all about building and managing a profitable and fun amusement or theme park - whether that be from one of the 18 Career Mode scenarios or in the more free-form sandbox mode. This involves everything from hiring staff to setting the price of foodstuffs in the park and, of course, building roller coasters. All of this is largely handled via menus, but the main screen is almost always displaying the park and its attendees as they go from ride to ride.
For those that are wondering "which one is RollerCoaster Tycoon 3?" that can be boiled down to a few distinct features, as the core gameplay of each game in the series up to this point is basically the same. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is the first in the series to sport a fully moveable 3D camera, a first-person "CoasterCam," coordinated fireworks shows, and a sandbox mode in which players can build a the park of their dreams from scratch. It alsoplaces some more weight on thematic consistency in park creation to the point that attendees may get confused and complain if players do something like mix and match the wild west with sci-fi.
Players that remember RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 fondly will find a lot to like in the iOS version as it's virtually unchanged. However, this occasionally makes some of the touch inputs a bit awkward. Things like path drawing and ride construction feel particularly unwieldy since using a touch interface eliminates the need for some of the UI that still persists.
Also, in the age of constantly running management sims like Fallout Shelter or Tiny Tower, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3's pace can feel a bit slow. There are definitely a lot more things to micro manage here, which helps to justify the slower speed, but waiting around for cash to build the next coaster can still feel like a drag even on the super fast-forward setting.
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is a near-identical port of the original from 2004, with the good and bad that comes along with being that faithful. On one hand it's an on-the-go version of what's probably the best game in theseries; on the other, the relative lack of updated controls or design in any form can make it feel clunky and slow. Fans looking to recapture the magic of the PC titles will likely be able to look past theseissues, but folks coming to the series for the first time or looking for a game with more modern sensibilities would probably be better off steering clear.