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Retro Recap – RollerCoaster Tycoon

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A game where you can simultaneously provide fun and horror to your customers? This week’s Retro Recap is none other than RollerCoaster Tycoon.

Back in the age where simulation games were a relatively niche genre, few made it onto the scene as a big name title. The Sims franchise was one the obvious series imagined here, but what about the others? Sure you had the likes of Theme Hospital which came with their own merits. However, could the sheer fun causing mayhem to a theme park full of people really compare? The unmistakable success of RollerCoaster Tycoon even spawned numerous sequels, each one providing just that little bit more realism to your extortionately priced adventureland.


RollerCoaster Tycoon was definitely a game that could hold my attention. The problem, however was always getting motivated to build that custom ride that your park so craved. Like with many simulation games, it is so easy to get sidetracked and mess around in the most amusing ways possible.

“I wonder if I can make this Go-Kart track points towards the people queueing for said ride”.

The answer is yes by the way, and probably one of the more amusing, albeit evil concoctions of the theme park. It ranks up there with not finishing off a really high thrill ride so the patrons plummet to their demise. But what am I taking it back, this is purely simulational and would in no way apply to the general thoughts of my daily life, right? RIGHT?

Some fun little facts for you:

  • On the back of the US box art, you can see the games developer, Chris Sawyer, riding on a real rollercoaster in the UK.
  • Renaming any of your guests to a number of the developers, as well as other famous names, unlocks a number of interesting easter eggs, such as Photo Mode or instant guest happiness
  • Instead of creating the highly anticipated RollerCoaster Tycoon 4, a movie is currently in production. A RollerCoaster Tycoon movie. I know.


One of the major drawbacks to this game was definitely the lack of a free build mode. Even though there were no real restrictions to building inside your scenarios park, a flat, open world would have been a fantastic addition, providing you with a framework to customize your rollercoasters without the drawback of money, or trees getting in the way. Same could be said for a scenario creator. Even though the built-in scenarios were fun, having the ability to make your own and then be able to challenge it would have been a nice touch to the overall product.

On the plus side, albeit the lack of free build, the game was as fun as your creativity allowed. Fancied creating a water based park? Not a problem. How about a park dedicated to the thrill seekers of the world? Easily achievable. Even within the scenarios themselves, the freedom was there to do and build whatever you saw fit. A true testament to the sandboxed genre, RollerCoaster Tycoon delivered, and continues to do so even now. If you have some free time this week, do yourself a favour a pick this game up and give it a whirl once more. I can promise you won’t regret the decision.

Did you pick up RollerCoaster Tycoon when it came out way back when? (15 years ago to be exact!) Have you playing it again since, or do you prefer the updated sequels in the franchise? Let us know your thoughts in the comments section below!

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