Rollercoaster Tycoon

When RollerCoaster Tycoon came out in 1999, the game changed the simulation genre forever. The amusement park management simulator was developed by Chris Sawyer and published by MicroProse for Microsoft Windows. Sawyer already made the popular Transport Tycoon game before, but the amusement park approach was a direct hit. It took 2 years of programming to complete the game, but it was worth it since the game brought 30 million dollars in revenue.

Rollercoaster Tycoon box
Box art of RollerCoaster Tycoon


After starting up the game, you have to complete a series of preset scenarios. You can do this by building and maintaining amusement parks as a theme park owner. And as the park owner, you are responible for literally everything. You are in charge of ride construction, food and beverage stalls, toilets, footpaths, landscaping, marketing, finance, pricing, personnel, garbage disposal and many more things. Generally, the key to any park is building diverse range of rides for the visitors. Some guests prefer exciting rides on thrilling looping roller coasters and have high nausea tolerance levels, while other guests are just the opposite and prefer a trip on the lake in rowing boats. There are a lot of roller coaster types to choose from, and you can also build log flumes, carousels, ferris wheels, haunted houses, motion simulators, ferris wheels, and many many more.

Rollercoaster Tycoon
A typical amusement park

The fun really begins when you don't use one of the predesigned coasters and start building one from scratch. A good coaster is exiting too look at (guests will take pictures of it), is thrilling but not too nausea heavy and has to be implemented is the available space of your park. You also have to take care of finance, as building these things is certainly not cheap. Doing so, you have to lay out individual track pieces, choosing the direction, height, and steepness, and adding special elements as corkscrews and vertical loops. When your track is finally constructed, it must also be carefully operated to minimise the risk of crashes as well. Closed circuit coasters using multiple vehicles can collide when there is a brake failure. Hiring mechanics for inspection and maintenance is must. Open circuit coasters with a powered launch can send your guests to their deaths if the launch speed is set too high, lowering your park rating dramatically.

Rollercoaster Tycoon ride design
Design of two twin coasters

Park maintenance is also key in keeping visitors satisfied. Hire enough handymen to empty garbage cans, water flowers and mow lawns but especially to sweep paths. Your guests are real assholes: they throw their empty cans on your footpaths when they cannot find a litter bin within a few feet distance and start to vomit almost after every ride. They also get frustrated when getting hungry or tired an turn into hooligans destroying your infrastructure. Hiring some security guards to prevent vandalism is certainly necessary. You also need mechanics to inspect and fix rides or guest will be stuck for ages in a broken ride.

Rollercoaster Tycoon staff
Hiring staff in RollerCoaster Tycoon

Not only the rides can be designed, also the park landscape can be modified, allowing you to lower/raise terrain and add water. You can also build paths and rollercoasters underground. Even the layout of your pathways is important. Working with a large network of paths often leads to guests who are getting lost or not finding the exit, while one central lane interconnecting all attractions often get too crowded. On these paths you can place garbage cans, benches, lights, and even dancing fountains. Nice paths please park guests and increases the park's approval rating. Garbage cans also reduce litter on your paths and benches are appreciated by guests to rest, eat or drink.

Rollercoaster Tycoon vomit
This path full of vomit needs a handyman for cleanup

The original game included 21 scenarios. Some scenarios give you an empty tract of land on which to build the park from scratch, but mostly you get a shitty, small, underdeveloped park you have to redevelop. If the park is too small, you can also purchase extra land or construction rights allowing you to build over your neighbours land. To complete a scenario and unlock a new one, you have to reach an objective, mostly having a certain amount of guests with a positive rating after 3 or 4 years. These in-game years are only eight months long; from the start of March to the end of October, the typical opening time of an amusement park.

Fun stuff everybody did in Rollercoaster Tycoon

First you would spend hours of carefully plotting and planning the perfect theme park and then giving all the rides and shops rude names just so you could see the guests say “THIS SHIT is great value!”

Rollercoaster Tycoon

Charging people way too much to go to the bathroom

Creating powered launch coasters and set launch speed to maximum

Rollercoaster Tycoon
Ready for liftoff

Opening attractions with the exit leading into a pit, where guests remain trapped forever, or in a lake drowning them

Seeing if you could kill every guest in the park by forcing them on a one tile size footpath above water with "no entry" signs. Then deleting the path :)

Clicking on people’s balloons to pop them because you really were an evil bastard