Having deep and strategic (and typically PC-centric) titles like Civilization V come over to the Nintendo Switch has made me think that just about anything is possible on the platform, so seeing RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures get announced certainly got me excited. Sure, it’s appeared on handheld devices before and the series hasn’t been too well-received with its latest iterations, but I actually went into the game with slightly high expectations.

Unfortunately, those expectations haven’t been met, but that doesn’t mean that RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures is a terrible game – it’s just an overly-simplified and shallow one with performance issues.

For those who’re unfamiliar with the series, RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures challenges you to build and run your own amusement park, make sure that your visitors are happy, and then make loads of cash in the process. Simple. Traditionally, it’s played on PC with a mouse and keyboard, but in fairness the transition to a controller works well here – it’s easy to flick between menus and the grid-like set up allows you to place everything with ease, whilst playing on handheld even lets you use touch screen controls. Hand-crafting rollercoasters has never been easier either with the player able to simply draw silly physics-defying concoctions and let the game do the ‘building’ process for them. Sure, it does take away some of the personal touches you’d usually apply, but it’s still fun seeing your zany creation come to life with minimal fuss.

Rollercoaster Tycoon Adventures

The main mode featured in the game is ‘Adventure’, where you begin with a small land and minimum resources. You’re expected to build your amusement park up to a high standard, which means constantly bringing in new rides (and replacing your old ones), ensuring there’s enough entertainment, and keeping your visitors fed – all whilst balancing prices and making sure that everyone’s happy. You’ve got to keep researching the new rides and attractions you bring in which helps draw the process out, whilst you’ll even have to make a few decisions along the way that can either benefit or stall your park’s popularity.

The ‘Adventure’ mode acts like a campaign of sorts, with it offering the most fulfilling way to play RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures. However, whilst the concept is neat, there’s not a whole lot to do from a gameplay perspective. Previous RollerCoaster Tycoon games have allowed players to get right down to the nitty-gritty, whether it’s keeping parks clean and hygienic, managing staff, or even just ensuring rides were in ship-shape – here, everything feels like it’s done for you, with the player simply placing things around the park and waiting for the cash to come in. It always felt like the backend jobs involved in running the park were too automated and rather than feeling deep and involving like previous entries in the series, it just all felt shallow and left me with little to do as the days went by in-game. That’s not to say I didn’t have fun actually setting up rides and I did enjoy seeing my once small park grow into this massive locale full of rollercoasters, but rather that I wish I could’ve done a lot more myself from a management perspective. Everything just felt too easy.

Rollercoaster Tycoon Adventures

At least there are some additional game modes on offer, with the ‘Scenario’ mode putting you in sixteen different levels where you have to complete certain objectives in a specified time. It’s a surprisingly addictive mode that added a bit more purpose to your actions, and once I started it was easy to get hooked in. Then there’s the ‘Sandbox’ mode which has everything unlocked from the get-go to allow you to make the amusement park of your dreams. I’m sure this will appeal to a lot of gamers (especially younger ones who just want to show off their creative side) but I just found it unfulfilling. With RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures offering a bare-boned gameplay experience as it is, losing the sense of progression that comes with actually unlocking everything made ‘Sandbox’ just feel a little pointless.

Rollercoaster Tycoon Adventures

Visually, the game looks pretty enough, with plenty of vibrant colours on show and variety in all of the attractions. However, performance-wise it had more than a few issues, with the frame rate taking a real hit the bigger your park became. It’s a lot more noticeable in the handheld mode (of which I primarily played) and it didn’t take long before I’d be watching the camera almost drag itself across the map in a stutter as I tried to check everything out. It got a little annoying, especially when trying to make my way through the menu at the same time, and the delays it added just made the game feel frustrating to play.

Developer: Nvizzio Creations
Publisher: Atari
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch