RollerCoaster Tycoon has its share of incredibly difficult and frustrating levels. Some are even infamous in the community.
RollerCoaster Tycoon 1 and expansion packs
- Mystic/Mothball Mountain. You have very little space, the terrain is horribly uneven, the loan caps out at $15k and it rains a lot. 800 guests might not seem like a lot, but when it's hard to bring in money and get your guests to go on the rides, you'll be happy to afford a Shuttle Loop. It's also one of the few smaller maps where purchasing new land would actually be a helpful tactic. However, it turns out that it was made expensive for this mission with each tile costing a hefty 90$.
- Harmonic Hills gives you a tree covered area with restrictions on landscaping, scenery removal and building above said trees. Your ride selection is worst in the series (RCT Classic adds insult to injury and gives you an Air Powered Vertical Coaster at the start of the scenario); you don't even start with food or drinks. Have fun fitting 1,200 guests in there.
- The original game's Rainbow Valley, as mentioned above, is basically the father of Harmonic Hills. However, it's a little more forgiving due to being allowed to build above trees and being given a few areas of cliffs to allow for underground construction.
- Octagon Park and Ghost Town hammers in the reality that some open-ended scenarios are open-ended for a reason. Doesn't help that amassing the funds for a qualifying roller coaster is frustrating, let alone 10.
- Pleasure Island, the park shortly after Octagon Park, is just as bad. It has the "Ten Roller Coasters" goal, but the Excitement Rating is 6.00 and there is no length goal. The difficulty? The island is a very long and thin strip of land, and fitting in a lot of roller coasters at the end can be very painful. And the cherry? The park rating is harder to increase, meaning you'll need those 6.00 Excitement Ratings.
- Sprightly Park. You start with $250,000 of debt, which means you will lose over $400 every month due to the huge loan. And there's more: The rides are around 30 to 70 years old, which is positively ancient by RCT standards. The only thing that will save you from the horrendous debt is the entry fee (thankfully in RCT Classic, this is a Pay-to-Enter park) of the park, since the rides are old enough that you can't charge for them at all. Good thing that this isn't in Loopy Landscapes (which prevents you from charging for park entry). Also, since this is an "old-fashioned" type of park, you don't get nearly the selection of researchable rides that most parks give you, similar to Woodworm Park (mentioned below), with only a few thrill rides and no fancy roller coasters. Better brush up on your skills with the Wooden Twister and Mine Train, because they are the only "large" coasters you get.
- The original game's Corkscrew Follies expansion has a rather nasty objective in Fiasco Forest; having to fix up a park that is pre-built to be an absolute disaster. The catch that makes this a difficult set-up is that you only get ONE YEAR to get all the flaws fixed in addition to getting 900 people in your park. There is an easy work around to just remake the park entirely from scratch, but even then, you're still racing against the clock to get 900 people in your park within just one year. Marketing is unavailable, so you can't just cheese the objective that way.
- Pickle Park, another scenario that blocks out Marketing, isn't much better; while you have more time to build the park, you'll have to start from scratch, and the guest requirement is higher.
- Woodworm Park in the second expansion pack, Loopy Landscapes, is no slouch. In this park, you are allowed to build only the older-style rides. That means no steel, steel twister, or vertical roller coasters; no "shuttle" roller coasters; only three thrill rides even after all research is done... and you must have 1600 guests in your park in 3 years. Unless you've had a lot of practice making older-style rides, this one will be troublesome. It's not even that far into the scenario list, yet it is more difficult than most of the ones following it (the below-mentioned Micro Park aside).
- Nevermore Park is the second and last "Build 10 Roller Coasters with a 7.00 Excitement Rating" park in Loopy Landscapes. Unlike its brother, it gives you a free roller coaster...but there are many problems with this coaster. It has an extremely high nausea rating (meaning it can dirty your park very fast), it is a transportation ride that takes guests through four areas of the park (at the beginning, you'll need to focus on only certain areas of the park. This causes guests to get lost in the park very fast), and it can be very infuriating to deal with at the beginning of the scenario. Fortunately, once you've gotten a more developed park, the whole "transportation system" deal isn't too bad. (Then you just have to deal with the time-consuming process of building 9 more coasters at least 4,537 feet or 1,400 meters long, which is tough enough in itself.)
- Micro Park is the last stage in the Loopy Landscapes set and is just like Dinky Park, but with 13x13 for land and no extra land for expansion. The goal is focused around park value, where you build things. See where this is going?
- Adrenaline Heights in Corkscrew Follies. While you aren't literally restricted to roller coasters in terms of ride choice, all the guests have high intensity preferences, often above 9, making this bit of leeway redundant. You may as well only build roller coasters.
- Southern Sands from Loopy Landscapes, hoo boy. You get two really good roller coasters, a nice transport ride, tons of flat space and a nice pathing system. The problem? You get the double whammy of having a harder time getting guests and increasing the park rating on top of the goal of 2,300 guests in 4 years, the highest outside of infinite money parks in the first game. If you're not judicious about cycling guests in and out, keeping the ride tickets cheap and getting high excitement ratings on your rides, the guest count will stop growing, advertising and awards be damned.
- If you're not very good at designing effective compact roller coasters that aren't Wild Mouse coasters, then you'll really hate Tiny Towers (Loopy Landscapes, RCT Classic). You're given really small space to finish five roller coasters that are conventionally giants (especially the Twister and Wooden Roller Coaster) with at least a 6.40 excitement rating on each one. If you decide to place flat rides, you have to be especially careful, as every square will count. At least it's bigger than Micro Park, but that's not saying much.
- Jolly Jungle from Corkscrew Follies is a downplayed example. The objective itself isn't too difficult and there's plenty of time to achieve it (4 years), and the park is pretty large. The biggest catch here is the sheer amount of trees and foliage in the park, constantly getting in the way of construction. Better find a way around them, or start getting used to right-clicking! Alas, the first game lacks the "Remove Scenery" tool from the second game that could help immensely with removing these trees en masse.
RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 and expansion packs
- Amity Airfield and (to an extent) Fungus Woods are regarded as difficult, especially for their placements, for one particular reason - their absurdly high guest requirement in four years. Amity Airfield requires 3,000 guests in four years, while Fungus Woods requires 2,500. Fortunately for both parks, they have a giant amount of space that you can work with.
- For Amity Airfield, you start off with a lot of unnecessary paths and buildings (unless if you want lost guests) you can get rid of so you can get a lot of money at the start, but even then, you need to also use the time to start bringing guests in and making sure you have a consistent flow. A lot of the rides you have available are also air-themed, meaning that the roller coasters that you'll be building are generally very expensive along with providing rather high nausea ratings. You're gonna have to hire a ton of Handymen to make sure the paths are clean, as vomit is a very common concern here. You will also have to make sure that you constantly advertise too along with making sure that guests stay in. It's a pay-to-enter park, so Cash Machines will be really helpful here.
- Fungus Woods is 500 short, but the park itself gives you more of a disadvantage. Unlike Amity Airfield where you have a lot of paths you can sell, Fungus Woods has the opposite. It is full of trees, meaning that every time you try to construct something, you'll be paying a lot of money. Like Amity Airfield, the ride choices are limited ... but you have much less variety, as you can only work with old-fashion rides, similar to Woodworm Park.
- Gravity Gardens in 2. You have to pay off a loan and get a certain park value, both of which are rather high. However you only get roller coasters to build, and with the park being pay-to-enter, it's too easy to get stuck in a loop of having to build a new ride cause the value of your other rides fell again and by the time you have enough money to build another one, the values of the others dropped. It's considered the hardest scenario in 2 for a reason.
- All of the parks mentioned above are in the "Intermediate Parks" section of the second game, but there is actually a scenario in the "Expert" parks that is actually considered hard. That park is Rainbow Summit, and is supposed to be a bit similar to Rainbow Valley in the first game, but instead it has the "tree height" gimmick from Harmonic Hills. Thankfully you can manipulate land so you can build underground, but even then can be rather pricy. Doesn't sound too bad, right? Nowhere in the actual description it mentions that advertising is forbidden, making it similar to Pickle Park in terms of advertising - and you need those 2,500 guests organically by the end of Year 4. The park gives you an efficient Wooden Roller Coaster to start with, but the Chairlift can actually cause you more trouble than it's worth.
- While the expansion packs for RCT 2 aren't as bad as those for RCT 1 generally, there are some difficult missions. One of these is Jurassic Safari in the Time Twister expansion pack. 2700 guests in 4 years doesn't sound hard, until you realize that you have two completely separate sections of park with guests that enter on both sides. The transport rides to get across are generally useless, which means you have to build a path across the valley, which will eat up a lot of time and money that you need to bring in guests. At least the ride selection is good.
- Inca Lost City (Wacky Worlds) is another one that should be mentioned. You have to get 1500 guests without letting your park rating drop below 700. While that sounds easy enough, the park has an implicit difficulty setting making it harder to gain park rating, as well as starting you with absolutely nothing. You will probably have to restart the first two months multiple times to get it right.
- Japanese Coastal Reclaim (Wacky Worlds) definitely deserves its expert difficulty moniker. First, it's a park entrance fee park, which means that you have to get more guests in to make money. The problem is that your park has no space, an awful ride selection, and a height restriction added on to the fact that you have too many guests for your current park to sustain. You will need to have full knowledge of game mechanics just to have a chance. At least you are given a lot of time to complete your objective, or go into debt.
- The last very difficult scenario is Rainforest Plateau (Wacky Worlds). The space is limited, you cannot buy more land. The park shape is awkward and makes it easy to build yourself into a bad situation. The worst part is the loan interest. It sits at a terrifying 30%, which means taking out additional money is very risky. At least the ride selection is pretty good.
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3
- The "La La Land" level involves having to impress the VIPs by building fireworks displays and then to get the Gold level two separate themed zones (Adventure and Sci-Fi) to "impress" them. Although the scenario dumps lots of money into the park account this is a quite difficult and monotonous trial and error task if done the conventional way, i.e.; creating large zones of open space, researching themed rides and scenery. Even after building what looks to be an acceptable themed area the VIPs are stupidly difficult to impress. Needless to say a quick web search shows up threads of screenshots showing how to build a themed area that will work: Simply drop down one of the themed rides on its own, isolated from the rest of the park and surround it with a themed path and a thick forest of themed trees. Then drop the VIP into the isolated area and let them ride the themed ride over and over in a loop and they will be 100% impressed. When they are impressed, pick them up and put them back in the rest of the park.
- Box Office. It is quite difficult for a scenario assumed to be a beginner one (since it's unlocked from the get-go). The park you start off with is filled with litter and vomit. The VIP for this scenario is very fussy. One speck of litter and she's out the door and you fail. The tycoon objectives take the cake though. The VIP wants to ride a roller coaster with an excitement level of 7 but she won't go on anything with an intensity level above 4 or 5. Most of the prebuilt coasters are too intense for her, so you are left to build your own coaster, which is a pain with the monorail and movie scenery lying around. Oh yeah, the other tycoon objective is to maintain a park rating of 700 for three months. In this disaster of a park, your rating tends to ebb and flow unpredictably and maintaining a good rating is easier said than done.