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July 13, 2005

REVIEW: Roller Coaster Tycoon 2

  • Platform: PC CD-ROM
  • Current Price (new): $10
  • Amount of Game Played: approx. 75%
"Look, Daddy! Roller coasters!"
"Yup. I see 'em, kids."

"Look, kids! Roller coasters!"

"Look, Daddy! Roller coasters!"
"Yup. I see 'em, kids."

"Look, kids! Roller coasters!

Relax. Your lasik surgery hasn't suddenly gone horribly awry. I meant to write that a few times, because that's what happens every time we pass the amusement park on the way to visit my wife's parents (there & back, of course).

I'm not going out on a limb when I say that kids love roller coasters. They just love 'em. Period. Paragraph. Of course, since mine are "too short to ride this ride," they'll have to settle for oohing & aahing from afar.

At least that was true until a couple of years ago, when we downloaded a timed RCT2 demo from Microsoft's free-demo-licious (sure that's a real word. I looked it up) Games for Windows page (though I can't seem to find it there anymore). The kids loved it so much that it became our default "last-game-before-bed game" every night. Thus was hatched a birthday present idea, and we bought the full Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 game a few months later.

Many games burn brightly for a short time on the fun meter (how many metaphors did I just mix there?), only to fizzle out quickly. For my kids, this wasn't one of those games. Sure, they played it a lot for the first few weeks, and as I started bringing home new game after new game to try, RCT2 dropped on the priority list. However, while some discarded games remain unplayed, both kids will ask to play RCT2 every once in a while, including a few days ago.

EDIT (7/13): When my son woke up this morning, guess which game he wanted to play? Told ya.

So what's keeps 'em coming back for more? Simple. They get to CREATE (or modify existing creations), and then enjoy the fruits of their labor.

Raves & Faves:
    • Choosing & customizing the coasters & rides
    • Popping the balloons as they float skyward
    • The haunted house
    • Changing the landscape
    • Picking people (guests, animal mascots, etc.) up and dropping them wherever their little hearts desire
    • Finding the nauseous people getting off the roller coasters (hint: they're the green-faced ones stumbling around)
Since the kids were a lot younger when we bought this game, they wanted me to play the game for them, implementing their imaginative whims, of course. For me, this wasn't one of the many little parental sacrifices we all make to ensure our kids' happiness. I also enjoyed playing RCT2. Like several other games we've played, my kids had fun, I had fun, and we all had fun together. Not too shabby.

To be completely honest, we don't play the game the way it's "officially" supposed to be played. While we try to create the best, cleanest parks with great rides, attractions & food, we don't waste our energy trying to achieve the game's official missions (though we may in the future). For example, one mission might be to have 1,250 park guests by the beginning of the 3rd year of operation (time is highly compressed, of course).

Finances are limited (you start with $10,000), which is why I actively search out, dare I say it, cheats. That's right, I said it (more info at end of review). When it comes to increasing the budget for my junior park designers, I'll choose the path of least resistance, thank you. In my opinion, it's more important for the kids to let their creativity run wild, as opposed to developing a sound business model. Fiscal responsibility lessons are on the horizon, but for the time being, it's all about creativity & fun.

In addition to missions & finances, the other aspect that we don't play to its full complexity is ride creation. While you can make your own coaster section by painstaking section, we just pick from an extensive menu of existing coasters & other rides.

Of course, those are just our choices. Older kids will probably enjoy challenges like accomplishing missions with a limited timeframe & budget, and creating their own custom roller coaster from scratch. It's all about customizing the experience for your own kids.

That's about it. We're taking the kids to visit my in-laws again.

"Look, Daddy! Roller coasters!"
"Yup. I see 'em, kids."

Enjoy the game.


RE: cheats... the easy-money-generating cheats are few, far between & convoluted for this game (unlike for Zoo Tycoon, where you just press SHIFT-4), so if you're interested, feel free ask in the comments section.


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