While there are franchises I adore more than the Roller Coaster Tycoon series, there are few that bring on the tsunami-sized waves of nostalgia like the popular simulation game. Even now, the very thought of building coasters for hordes of customers takes me back to middle school more than tawdry 7 Up commercials or Linkin Park’s Hybrid Theory album.
For the unfamiliar, Roller Coaster Tycoon is one of the most popular simulation games out there, allowing you to play out fantasies of building your own theme park, complete with coasters, thrill rides, and monorails, right down to food courts and even bathrooms. The logistics of running a profitable and popular park are more complicated than you might think. Luckily, if you’re not into all that challenge, there’s a sandbox mode to simply play around in.
Considering that many popular titles are ported to the Switch, it makes sense that this game, which came out way back in 2004, ended up on the console. Initially, I was excited, considering my past with the franchise, but I overlooked one simple thing: Roller Coaster Tycoon is a PC game.
Sure, many games that are released for the PC live and play happily on the Nintendo Switch. But Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is the sort of title that just isn’t optimized for a 16-button controller. Heck, even a 32 button controller wouldn’t have fixed the accessibility issues that truly require a mouse and keyboard. Whether you’re building a coaster or laying down pathways, gameplay relies on precision. Control sticks make for poor mouse controls, and making mistakes can quickly turn into a rabbit hole of steps that simply make things worse.
The rest of what makes the series great is still there. If you take the time to get used to the clunky controls, there’s plenty of stuff to do. It is the complete edition after all, including two expansion packs. Soaked! stresses the thrills of a water park, which allows you to build swimming pools, water slides, and even aquariums. Wild! Is exactly what it implies, allowing you to build safaris and zoos packed with all manner of untamable fauna.
Review: Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition (Nintendo Switch)
Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 is a fantastic game that even 16 years later remains one of the most entertaining simulation titles ever made. Playing the game without a mouse and keyboard leaves much to be desired, and even after getting over the learning curve, it’s still a murky prospect indeed. But if you simply must have a portable Roller Coaster Tycoon 3, there’s plenty of thrills to be had.