Management sims: “RollerCoaster Tycoon 2: Triple Thrill Pack” (PC)

Does Chris Sawyer Productions’s and Atari‘s theme park simulation RollerCoaster Tycoon 2: Triple Thrill Pack build on the success of its predecessor and even improve it?

RollerCoaster Tycoon 2: Triple Thrill Pack (PC)
(Scotland 2004, developer: Chris Sawyer Productions (now defunct), publisher: Atari, platform: PC)

By building even more customized rides, a new theme park thrives in every scenario.

Deja-vu and new rollercoaster beginnings
The first time one starts RollerCoaster Tycoon: Deluxe‘s sequel, one can’t shake the feeling that it looks and plays identically. This is because the graphics and interface, despite a few tweaks, have remained the same. So anyone who has learned how to lay tracks of rides, change the terrain, and place the various shops and facilities in the right direction so that customers can actually use them can jump right into the building and management action. Newcomers can do the tutorials which are much better at explaining how the physics of a coaster work or how scenery items affect a ride’s level of excitement. Still, for any further details, one either has to use the manual or learn by doing and failing in the many scenarios of various difficulties.

New scenarios and challenges unlocked
Unlike the original game, one doesn’t have to complete a scenario in order to unlock the next, as all can be accessed right from the beginning. This has the obvious advantage of skipping certain sections and choosing a setting or goal that is the most interesting. However, it also takes away a sense of progression, as one will soon simply play a scenario for a while only to find out that it takes too long to complete a goal and go right to the next one. It doesn’t help that there is a discrepancy in the difficulty of some scenarios, even at a beginner’s level, so that one didn’t have a problem with a previous scenario and suddenly feels stuck with a challenge one wasn’t prepared for or doesn’t receive any explanation of how to tackle it.

This is a shame, because the objectives in each scenario are as varied as the locations. So one has to make a certain amount of money in just two years or build 10 coasters with an excitement level of 7 without any money but space restrictions in another scenario. What is even more motivating is that each scenario doesn’t only look differently with a new theme, e.g. the Dark Ages or the dinosaur era, but the rides also fit the setting, so one has a rafting ride down a castle or miniature golf surrounded by medieval walls, and mini-scooter cars in the form of dinosaurs, among other things. The same doesn’t only affect the coasters and such, but also the various shops and scenery, making each theme park a great-looking proposition.

Lost connection and gained excitement
The rides vary in their respective excitement levels, and the sheer number of over 150 is more than impressive. Even if most of them are rollercoasters, there are quite a few family attractions that look so much fun that one wants to buy a ticket and experience it for real. Of course building a track-based ride is everyone’s dream, but again there are plenty of pre-set builds to choose from for those who simply want to enjoy the management and park decoration side. However, the same problems that have ailed RollerCoaster Tycoon: Deluxe rear their ugly heads: Exits and entrances are still very difficult to place and connect to the main paths. While some are much easier to see, others, like the castle rafting ride, make it almost impossible to make out where people can actually queue or get out because of the limited 2D point of view and a zoom function that simply doesn’t reveal enough.

Changing the scenery and seeing/playing something new
Changing the terrain for building purposes is made easier with the new “clear scenery” (or bulldozer) button that can get rid of trees and buildings in an instant and in a wide area. Still, raising and lowering the terrain again costs too much time and money, while the pixel-by-pixel placement of footpaths and waiting lines is too often prevented by ride constructions or the landscape. As there isn’t any reset button and deleting costs money again, it becomes a frustrating exercise in patience. The same can be said about the missing speed-up function, and oversight that makes waiting for a scenario to complete even more aggravating.

At least there are a few novelties making the game more enticing for creative minds: a scenario editor which allows players to create their own scenarios with individual landscapes, objectives, rides and scenery items. One can also can make and test one’s own rollercoaster and save it for use in other levels with the Roller Coaster Designer. Fans of real theme parks will be happy to try out scenarios and rides promoted by Six Flags, including Magic Mountain, Great Adventure, and Over Texas, with Walibi Holland and Walibi Belgium being available as well.

Expanding horizons
The Triple Thrill Pack includes both expansion packs Wacky Worlds and Time Twister, with the former having rides and scenarios inspired by various sights from around the world (like Africa, Antarctica, Asia, or Europe), while the latter offers time period-inspired scenarios, like the Dark Age, Future, Prehistoric, or Mythological, so they’re actually integrated into the various scenarios unlocked right from the start.

Familiar sounds and looks
Technically, the game offers the same detailed constructions of colorful rides and shops, while the various backdrops have some nice little effects, too. However, just as with the not-so-cartoony-look of the visitors, it’s not a game that would win any graphics awards. The sound effects and music are a bit more varied and add to the theme park flair, but it’s not something that is memorable.

Familiar entertainment
RollerCoaster Tycoon 2: Triple Thrill Pack is more of the same, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, because the sheer variety of scenarios with all sorts of rides, shops, and scenery items, brings theme park fans even closer to their dream of building their own adventure land. While the lack of a speed-up option and control problems are disappointing, this sequel is still a nice game one wants to return to again and again, just to try out different constructions and management strategies, even if time investment is quite high.

Score: 8/10

Buy the digital version for PC on
GOG
Steam

Buy the retail version for PC on
Amazon Germany (includes the two sequels as well, but only as Steam codes)
Amazon UK (includes the two sequels as well, but only as Steam codes)
Amazon USA (includes the two sequels as well, but only as Steam codes)

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About nufafitc

Being an avid gamer, cinemaniac, and bookworm in addition to other things the internet and new media present, I'm also very much into DIY music, rock and pop in particular. Writing short or longer pieces about anything that interests me has always made me happy. As both an editor for German website "Adventure-Treff" and UK website "Future Sack", I like to write reviews and news about recent developments in the movies, games and book industry.
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