RollerCoaster Tycoon is a simulation strategy computer game that simulates theme park management and roller coaster design. Developed by MicroProse and Chris Sawyer and published by Hasbro Interactive, it was widely praised for its originality and success in simulating a theme park. The roller coaster designer was a popular feature and was praised for its high attention to detail, with many real types of coaster available, and allowing very elaborate coasters to be built. A release for the Xbox for the original was released with mixed reviews, which turned out to be the same, but with hard-to-coordinate controls. A release for the original version was planned for iOS and Android devices in early 2013, but because Atari filed for bankruptcy, the plans were cancelled. As of 2014, all three games and their expansions are available on Steam and GOG.com.
The principal games in the RollerCoaster Tycoon series are:
Amusement Park of Doom: Ivory Towers is vandalized and full of litter and vomit starting out, Rotting Heights is basically a garbage dump, and Fiasco Forests starts out with a fatal accident on a ride named Deathslideunless you pause the game right after entering the scenario. You can also create your own.
The infamous Mr. Bones' Wild Ride is an example of a player-created one.
Anachronism Stew: Players can build an 1890's Side Friction Coaster and a 2000's Intamin Giga coaster in the same year.
That's perfectly fine for some people, but it gets worse with Time Twister; one scenario takes place (according to the text) in the actualMiddle Ages despite... well, since it's a game about theme parks, pretty much everything.
Artificial Stupidity: In the first game, none of the guests are that smart. They really just walk down paths, and if they see an intersection, they will pick a direction at random. This will only change if they are incredibly hungry or thirsty, or if they have to go to the bathroom. The same thing applies to your staff. Less severe in the second game, in which they will actually form a sort of guest-line along a two-or-more-tile pathway, and can watch rides from a distance and head for them if they're interested, and mostly averted in RCT3, especially with Handymen, who are more capable of keeping themselves occupied with cleaning paths than you can ever hope to be, although peeps will a) leave the park if they don't see any rides when they first enter, and b) whoop whenever they get hit by a coaster.
A word of advice for those playing RCT1: Don't watch any one of your guests too closely. You will quickly find yourself infuriated as one of your guests gets thirstier and thirstier, and angrier and angrier, walking away from the soda vendor you keep placing him at again and again, refusing to buy a drink, and blaming the park for his misery, because he won't put down his cheeseburger.
Staff in the first two games may occasionally drown on their own if their patrol area is set to footpaths built above water.
Guest-driven boats in the "Boat Hire" ride in RCT1 often get stuck on each other when trying to re-enter the station platform - only the canoes boat types are able to reliably navigate around due to their thinness.
Attract Mode: In the form of a montage of the various scenarios in the game at the main menu. In RCT1, the montage will also show some of the additional scenarios once you install the expansion packs. RCT2's montage revolves only around the installed Six Flags scenarios, while the montage in RCT3 is a picture slideshow that will also feature any screenshots saved by the player through the use of a Photo Spot or On-Ride Photo Section.
Easter Egg: Guests named after the game developers occasionally perform special actions such as taking photos or waving. Naming someone "Damon Hill", "Michael Schumacher" or "Mr. Bean" makes that guest drive extra-fast, fast or slow respectively on Go-Kart rides.
Clicking on swimming or flying ducks will make them quack. In the third game, there is a chance that a duck will lose all its feathers each time it is clicked.
Clicking on floating balloons will make them pop. And in the third game, they can be popped while peeps hold them, scaring the pants off of them.
Expansion Pack: All three games have two of these. The first game's packs added many unique attractions, theming categories, and scenarios (including the first "money doesn't matter" scenario, Arid Heights). The second game's packs were purely aesthetic add-ons; all the new rides were just reskins of existing ones, and the new scenarios were nothing special besides theming. The third game's packs added entirely new park types (water parks in Soaked and zoos in Wild).
Follow the Leader: Railroad Tycoon, the first game with "Tycoon" in the name, predates this game by nine years. Nonetheless, it was RollerCoaster Tycoon that codified and popularized the idea, and the vast majority of simulation games with "Tycoon" in their name were created by other companies in order to capitalize on this game's success. The magazine PC Gamer eventually created a "Tycoon" genre for classification in their game reviews because of this. With the exception of Zoo Tycoon, they were pretty much all Shovelware.
Fake Difficulty: Guests often overestimate their tolerance for nausea-inducing rides, and offering barf bags is not an option. They will throw up on your nice clean paths once they exit. You can provide benches for them to sit down and try to recover (which rarely helps much) and First Aid stations in the sequel, but still, no barf bags.
Employees will ignore "No Entry" signs, so if you start out with a huge, empty park and use these signs to keep guests within the part you're developing, you can expect your employees to go AWOL a lot if don't set up patrol areas. (Or simply remove a piece of path at the entrance to the off-limits area.) And you'd better not give your handyman orders to mow the grass unless you want him to do absolutely nothing else for the rest of his career.
Station Brakes Failure can happen at any time and usually cause disasters, which will make a roller coaster's popularity and your park rating plummet.
The first two games severely limit what the player can do while the game is paused (the player can rename things and tweak the theming of a ride, and that's about it). This doesn't sound so bad until you realize that designing a custom coaster layout involves a lot of trial and error, especially if you want it to make use of the topography. Every second spent tweaking this or that segment of a new coaster is a second the player can't focus on other pressing issues or plunk your handyman down next to the vomit that's been piling up. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is the first game in the series that allows the player to do almost any kind of construction or terraforming even when paused.
Free Rotating Camera: This is one of the main perks of the third game. The camera's "Advanced" mode is this trope in its entirety, having virtually no restrictions on how the player can view the park apart from a tiny above-the-ground altitude requirement.
Game Mod: It's buggy and cumbersome with the first installment, but the second on was built around it.
There are also people who have created "custom rides" you can install. No, not custom coasters; custom flat rides with new animation and everything. There was a major limit to what they could do with this, because they all had to be based on — and thus use the same stats and capacity as — an existing ride, but the results could still be pretty creative.
Genius Programming: The first two games are capable of running at full speed on low-end computers that were manufactured back in the mid to late 90's. The third game averts this completely, although given its complexity and nature, it does not fall into Idiot Programming either.
The original was actually mostly written in Assembler with only a bit of C to work in Windows.
Holiday Mode: The third game's menu plays horror-themed music on Halloween.
Insurmountable Waist High Fence: Every ride needs to have enough space for an entrance and exit house that sticks out from the side of the ride station. Because of the game's isometric grid layout it is possible to place down rides without being able to connect them up properly with the existing paths. Also the paths and ride tracks have to have a square in height to clear each other, leading to an inability to complete rides or queue lines because of a few meters of clearance. In RCT 3 the increasingly detailed terrain also means paths can be at microscopically different heights and not connect up properly, giving the irritating warning messages that 'guests cannot reach the entrance of Ride X', or 'mechanics cannot reach Ride Y, ensure it is connected to a path'.
Karma Meter: Torturing, killing, and overall making things difficult for your guests causes your park's approval rating to go down, and you'll get less visitors (and make less money). Although intentionally drowning guests or making them fall to the center of the earth doesn't seem to affect this.
Lava is Boiling Kool-Aid: Except for the boiling part. In the second game's scenario editor, there is a menu to choose between blue water, green water, acid water or orange water that is supposed to look like lava. Of course, in a theme park, everything is fake.
There is also an official patch for the second game that added pink as a Palette Swap colour for water, which also affected water in rides, such as the Log Flume or Splash Boats.
Letting the Air out of the Band: The music your rides play do this whenever they break down. Actually justified with the carousel, which is limited to playing a medley of classical music on an apparently built-in mechanical organ. On the other rides... not so much.
Loads and Loads of Loading: RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 suffers from massive loading times, especially with expansion packs and custom scenery installed. The more things you have in a park, the longer it will take to load.
Lost Forever: In the original, if you were to dig into the ground too far, that square would drop into oblivion, and you wouldn't be able to fill it back up, thus losing one square (or more, depending on how large the dig tool was) forever.
Similarly, if you delete a path that a guest was on while underground, that guest would keep dropping down into oblivion. Nothing is mentioned of them ever again.
In real life, the Promo & Competition parks for the original seemed to have been lost to the public, until they were rediscovered and uploaded here.
Luck-Based Mission: The penultimate scenario in RCT 3 Soaked, "Mountain Spring" requires a monthly ride income of $2,500 to reach the Gold level (for comparison the average scenario can be beaten with parks that pull in about $1,000 from rides). Unfortunately the weather in the park is very rainy, and guests won't be as keen to ride the big rollercoasters in the rain. So beating the scenario relies on getting lucky to have a relatively dry month so the income beats the target.
Even something like a rubber raft for the Water Slide will go kaboom.
Having a guest named "Atomic" in RCT 3 makes certain rides explode when they crash.
Made of Iron: In the third game, the peeps are invincible. They can and will survive falling from great heights, being flung from coasters, being hit by coasters, blown up and staying in the water for hours. All while smiling and cheering.
In the first two, you could make guests fall from an elevated ride exit onto a lower path without any ill effect, other than the occasional message telling you there's no path to the ride exit.
If you build a path underground however, and delete it while Guests are walking on it, they will fall through the ground and keep on falling until they fall off the stage into nonexistence. They simply cease to be, your Guest Count falls ... that's it.
Meaningful Name: Some parks have them. Fiasco Forest, for example, is a dangerous park built in the forest.
Mission Pack Sequel: The second game. It made a few improvements to the engine and had a few graphical touch ups, but besides the scenario and coaster editor, it's vastly the same game as the original.
Nintendo Hard: The first few parks aren't too bad, but quickly, after the first six or seven, the difficulty starts to pick up.
Micro Park is the last stage in the Loopy Landscapes set and is just like Dinky Park, but with 13x13 for land. The goal is focused around park value, where you build things. See where this is going?
Pandaing To The Audience: Panda World, a RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 scenario, was created and released by Chris Sawyer himself for free after the game's original release. Upon loading it for the first time, the scenario adds a new "Panda" scenery theming, as well as Panda-themed cars for the Junior Roller Coaster, on top of the game's current installation.
A panda is also the default costume for entertainers.
Percussive Maintenance: In the first two games, a vehicle malfunction or jammed restraint/door is usually solved by a mechanic giving the offending vehicle/car with the restraint/door a good kick, and the dreaded (Station) Brakes Failure is solved by the mechanic hitting the rear section of the ride's station brakes four times with a hammer. In the third game, mechanics fix broken down shops by kicking them.
Quicksand Box: A problem with beginners is that they expand too quickly and waste money on stuff they don't need (duplicate rides, scenery, large roller coasters and such). Of course, Evergreen Gardens is supposed to work people out of that mentality by giving them everything but what they need.
Rare Roller Coasters: The wooden Reverser Coaster is based on a unique design called the "Hooper Reverser" built in Salt Lake City in 1914 and long since demolished. The side friction coaster was once a common design but into the 21st century only a handful are left standing. Heartline coasters are very rare as well - only one company successfully produced them in the '90s, with less than a dozen made, most of which are of the same design ("Ultratwister"). Only a few remain in operation.
Recursive Translation: Not in-game, but on the third game's official forum, the custom scenery and ride sections have stickied threads entitled "I Search an Object" and "I Search a CTR/CFR".
Save Scumming: A good way to minimise the damage caused by random rollercoaster crashes.
Shout-Out: A rock track that You can put on a ride from the first games expansions and the second game entirely sound similar to a track from Driver. Justified, considering both games had Allister Brimble as their composer.
Soundtrack Dissonance: Can be player invoked by creating a violent, high-intensity and nausea inducing rollercoaster and having songs like this blaring.
Super Drowning Skills: In all the games, you can grab individual park guests and place them wherever you want, ostensibly to recover them from getting lost in your park or to move employees to troublesome areas. You can also choose to drop them in water. In the first two games, if you don't pick them back up, they will drown, reducing your park population by one. Averted in the third, however, as they will just keep treading water until you move the camera away from them, during which time they'll just appear somewhere else in the park.
Swan Boats: The games have swan boats as an option for boat rides.
The Dev Team Thinks of Everything: The Crooked House at the expansions of the first game can never be inspected by the mechanics. The Crooked House is a "House that disorientates the people with it's crooked rooms".
The regulation of building roller coasters at tree-height is a real challenge faced by English theme parks such as Alton Towers. There are real coasters with interlocking loops, such as the 'Loch Ness Monster' at Busch Gardens Williamsburg. And (formerly) a wooden coaster with a vertical loop.◊
Despite how ludicrous it may sound, there are actually public restrooms in real life that actually cost money.
Unwinnable by Mistake: In the third game, you can create a situation where a track is at X Height, the station is at X.3 Height, and its impossible to 'thread the needle' and finish the track. It doesn't happen often, but when it does happen, expect to rage.
One Example being if you built a steep upward path, and as the Peeps walk up it, when they get near the top of the long path, delete the path just as they step on it, and they trip, fall back into the crowd behind them, and start a HUMAN AVALANCHE!! (It was actually marketed as a feature of the game)
Wild! lets the player find out what happens if a zebra is dropped into a lion's enclosure (hint: no more zebra)
It's easy to just drown all your guests or make them crash brutally, but one person decided to take cruelty to a whole new level. Behold, Mr. Bones Wild Ride. Its max speed is 5 MPH downhill, and consisted of 30,000 feet of track at the start, growing larger as the riders continued. It takes in real life 70 minutes to complete, or four years in-game. Then, after everyone is thoroughly exhausted, hungry, and unhappy, the exit line leads straight back to the queue. It was so bad that the general consensus was that drowning was the kinder fate.
The player can build a clone of the Euthanasia Coaster, a ride purposely designed to kill its riders. In RCT3, placing a LIM launched coaster on the top of a mountain, which then dives straight down to the bottom of the world before doing a loop-de-loop will make fifty gravities of force. Guests can't die from crushing forces, though they will immediately vomit out their guts when they leave the ride. Excitement will be zero, and intensity will be "Uber-extreme"
Video Game Time: The timing of how long a visitor takes is wildly different from that of construction and management, leading to people spending what are essentially months or even years in the park.
Wide Open Sandbox: In the first game, Mega Park's scenario is "Have Fun!", while completing a scenario with a goal turns that park into a sandbox. In the second game, while the game didn't have one, you can create your own scenarios and make the conditions easy enough to unlock the sandbox almost immediately. The third game came with a built-in sandbox mode.
You Are Number Six: In the vanilla original game, the guests are unnamed and are only identified by a number, with the "Guest ###" format. Expansion packs gave the option to show realistic names instead, although it had to be turned on manually. The sequels have this as the default setting, though the option to return to numbered guests is available.
You Have Researched Breathing: Happens with some scenery in the third game. For example, you may be able to build a tall brick wall at the start, but need to research a smaller, diagonal wall.
Some stages don't start with information kiosks and/or drinks. It is also possible to setup a scenario without bathrooms.
On some scenarios on the first game, you can start and receive new abilities to make Advanced Roller Coasters... and 2 in-game years later you still don't have the Wooden Roller Coaster. (Which is avaiable to almost every scenario)