RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 puts you in charge of an amusement park. You’re responsible for the layout of the park, the rides, and everything that happens, including maintenance and upkeep. Park visitors (virtual people called Peeps) will want to eat and drink, spend money on souvenirs and games of chance, and, most of all, have fun on rides and amusements.
A career mode focuses on turning around the fortunes of ailing or small parks, with three sets of objectives (Apprentice, Entrepreneur, and Tycoon) that must be met to win each scenario. Reaching the apprentice goal is usually pretty easy—attract a certain number of customers, hit revenue goals, or add rides the customers want. Tycoon level can be a bit trickier; you may have to pay back a bank loan or have rides that hit certain excitement levels.
Many rides and amusements are pre-packaged: find a spot of land in your park big enough to build it and have enough money in the bank, and presto, it appears. Roller coasters, transportation rides, flume rides and others can be designed from the ground up (though the game also includes plenty of pre-made designs). A Coaster Cam lets you take a ride on your roller coaster (or any other ride in your park) once you’re done. You can create impressively detailed coasters with loops, banking turns, corkscrews, and triggering events (setting off explosions or other actions that happen when a car passes by). You can also create light shows and fireworks displays to keep your guests in the park after the sun goes down.
If hitting goals and managing a budget doesn’t sound like fun to you, the game’s Sandbox mode that just lets you build to your heart’s content. There’s no real point to it, but it’s good for a diversion, or for younger players who may get lost in the nuances of career gameplay. The game also includes design tools that let you make your own Peeps, design your own coasters and even create entire custom scenarios from scratch.
As the Platinum edition, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 bundles two add-on packs, Soaked (water theme parks) and Wild (animal theme parks). Both add-on packs introduce new career scenarios and loads of new content to keep you busy for some time.
Almost a decade has passed since RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 first made its debut for the PC. The gameplay is still fun and exciting, especially for gamers who haven’t played RollerCoaster Tycoon before. Aspyr deserves credit for updating the game to run on newer Macs and operating systems. But the game engine itself hasn’t aged very gracefully—graphics are blocky and jagged, especially when you zoom in to Peep view level. The interface is decidedly PC-like, as well. That doesn’t ruin the game, but it makes the player realize that this game has been around the block a few times.
Despite its aging look, there’s a tremendous amount of gameplay to be had in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Platinum, and it’s safe fun for the entire family.