RollerCoaster Tycoon VS Theme Park World

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For full effect, please start playing this video of merry-go-round music to accompany your reading experience. Apparently you call them ‘carousels’ in the United States. You guys are crazy.

Speaking as someone who centuries ago, used to be a child, I can safely say that amongst the things that children love are; sweets, funfairs, video games, and using Google Images on an unattended computer. It’s rare to combine these things, but in regards to funfairs and video games, the world has been graced with two wonderful products. RollerCoaster Tycoon, and Theme Park World.

It’s seems strange to me that an idea so obviously brilliant and with such wide mass appeal hasn’t been done to death, but maybe that’s just because anyone who wants to make a video game about creating a theme park has had to play RollerCoaster Tycoon and Theme Park World at some point, and they’ve realised that they really can’t improve much on either of them, or make an original creation that wouldn’t be ripping one of them off.

While city-building games have been around for almost as long as video games have, they’re usually focussed on… well, cities, hence the term ‘city-building’. But while Age of Empires and Caesar III have certain strengths, there are some things they just can’t let you do. Like build a candyfloss stall. Or construct a rollercoaster that launches your guests out of the park and into a lake. Or, if you were an absolute, lowest-of-the-low, ‘even Ramsay Bolton would think you were a despicable monster’-type person… you could build bathrooms and then charge people a fee to use them.

What makes both of these games so interesting to me that they came from companies who had previously experimented in similar but different genres. Chris Sawyer, lead designer and general doer of 95% of the work on RollerCoaster Tycoon, was originally planning on making a sequel to his functional but more boring game Transport Tycoon, and while Bullfrog Productions had released an old ‘Theme Park’ game back in 1994, they’d found more success with Theme Hospital and Theme Aquarium. I can’t overstate how lucky it was for my childhood that they both decided to make the games that they did in the late nineties, and even though I have to pick a winner and a loser at the end of this, I am just so happy to be able to talk about these two games.

So, unlike the guests in the overly-long queue for any log flume I’ve ever built, I won’t keep you waiting any longer than necessary. Let’s talk about two of my favourite PC games.

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RollerCoaster Tycoon was first released on March 31, 1999, and quickly received two expansion packs, Corkscrew Follies and Loopy Landscapes. The game was designed primarily by Chris Sawyer, who wrote – not kidding – 99% of the code. Although I like to keep this part of the description mainly professional, the game is responsible for one of my favourite entries on any Wikipedia page, detailing Chris Sawyer’s change of direction mid-production. “He originally wanted to create a sequel to his highly successful ‘Transport Tycoon’. However, he later instead decided to make RollerCoaster Tycoon as an excuse to ride on, or ‘research’, rollercoasters, which he enjoyed doing and became obsessed with.”

There isn’t really a story behind the game, other than ‘You are an entrepreneur creating amusement parks for guests to enjoy’, but there doesn’t need to be either. There are 21 scenarios to choose from (with a secret 22nd. Or is it?) and although most of them are fairly straightforward tasks in the nature of ‘Build a good park’, some are more complex, throwing obstacles at you like irremovable scenery, or a pre-existing park with a severe vandalism problem. Thanks to the freedom given to each player to determine minor details, even the similar scenarios can be played incredibly differently based on however you want to tackle them.

To say that the game was a success would be a gigantic understatement. RollerCoaster Tycoon was the on/off best-selling PC game of the year; for two years. It was the best-selling PC game of 1999 despite only being released in April (well, March 31st) of that year, and its popularity honestly never seemed to dwindle. For his efforts, Chris Sawyer made $30 million for his part in the creation of the franchise that has ended up amassing profits of more than $180 million, making this one of the profitable PC games released in the 20th century. It’s been ‘Let’s Play’ed by too many YouTubers to bother listing them all, and they always seem to say the same thing; that it was a wonderful game from their childhood that they still enjoy playing today. While an Xbox port was poorly-received, Entertainment Weekly went as far as to place this game at number 68 on their 2003 list of the best video games of all time. All I can say is it would’ve placed a lot higher on my list.

Let’s see what Bullfrog Productions can put up against this.

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Theme Park World (or ‘Sim Theme Park’ in the US, which I would usually recognize as the more well-known name but honestly it just sounds really dumb to me,) was also released in 1999, but unlike RollerCoaster Tycoon, it didn’t branch off from an existing franchise, but was a direct sequel to the 1994 release, ‘Theme Park’, released on Genesis, SNES, 3DO, Jaguar, Saturn, and more consoles than I’ve named already. Theme Park World was, in comparison, released rather minimally on just the PC, PS1 and PS2. It was followed up by another sequel, ‘Theme Park Inc’, that was also positively received, but never earned that much attention.

Like RollerCoaster Tycoon, Theme Park World doesn’t really have a story, but it does put more emphasis on the goals you have to accomplish. There are only 4 parks, but rather than beating them, you simply maintain them while earning ‘Golden Tickets’. These tickets give you access to a chocolate factory in which – wait, sorry, no – these tickets are a sign of a great accomplishment, like building a very impressive rollercoaster or go-kart track, or getting a large number of people in your park at any given time, and for every three you earn, you get a golden key. You start with just one, which is enough to get into the first two parks, but the third requires three keys, and the fourth requires five keys.

Theme Park World never received the widespread praise or acclaim that RollerCoaster Tycoon did, but it was still a very fun and well-made game. Those who did play it have fond memories of the helpful but irritating ant-creature who constantly popped up to give you advice. I hope there is at least one person reading this who is thinking ‘Theme Park World, hmm, that sounds familiar. Did I ever play that?’ who is now getting flashbacks to the ant-man popping up uninvited to let them know ‘Your cleaners could keep the park cleaner if you set their patrol areas!’ in a bad Scottish accent. Jokes aside, Theme Park World is one of the few games of the early 2000s that managed to win a BAFTA (very fancy British award), which it did in the category of Sound.

Alright, that’s enough chit-chat. It’s time to choose whether we want to go on the Crazy Caterpillar Coaster from RollerCoaster Tycoon or the Killer Gorilla Thrilla from Theme Park World. Don’t forget your candyfloss!

Graphics

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Not to distract myself from highlighting the strengths and weaknesses of these games by immediately bursting into unrestrained praise, but both of these games are, by far, some of the most visually appealing video games I’ve ever played in my life. Not the most advanced, or impressive, but visually appealing. As in, a low-resolution image of a beautiful field filled with flowers being more pleasing to the eye than a high-resolution picture of a blank wall. The customization of every park and every scenario means you can easily waste hours just happily looking around your fully-constructed park once finished.

RollerCoaster Tycoon doesn’t have the greatest variety in scenarios, but there’s enough scenery to keep you entertained. Forest Frontiers is a forest, lots of green. Leafy Lake is built around a lake, lots of blue. Dynamite Dunes is a desert, Millennium Mines is a mine, and Evergreen Gardens is covered with flowers. The scenery is lovely, but what makes the game so appealing are the rides themselves, rollercoasters and merry-go-rounds and ferris wheels and swinging ships; just the four of those rides themselves, in a small area of the park, are appealing to look at. The animations are smooth, simple, and wonderful. It’s impossible for me to build a rollercoaster, log flume, water slide, miniature railway, or anything that involves a track and a station, without watching it run a few times, just to make sure I’ve done a good job. And it’s always a pleasure, even when I haven’t.

Theme Park World is a game that I remember being quite jerky and laggy, but in retrospect, that’s because I was playing it shortly after it first came out in the year 2000, when my computer had the processing power of a potato. So not only is it a wonder that the game was capable of running on my rink-a-dink PC, but it’s also a testament to the game that I still found it not only enjoyable and entertaining at 0.5 frames per second, but also that I still thought the graphics were really impressive! The biggest difference that you’ll notice immediately is that while RollerCoaster Tycoon has a sort-of 3D look due to being constructed in isometric, Theme Park World is straight-up 3D. It’s not exactly going to go up against Gran Turismo 17 or anything, but it’s still really nice 3D, and for its time, it was actually quite advanced.

The other big thing RollerCoaster Tycoon’s graphics have going are the customization. You don’t just build your own rides and attractions, but you control nearly every graphical aspect of them. Don’t like the red rails of your rollercoaster? Make them blue! You know what would make that swinging ship stand out? If it was bright green! To this day, whenever I build dodgems, I always have to manually make all of the bumper cars a different combination of colours, and I also build 7 balloon stalls whenever I get the chance so that I can sell them in as many different colours as possible. This adds a level of personal depth to whatever you create, because even if you’re lazy or content enough to leave every ride as is, that was still the personal choice you made for your park. RollerCoaster Tycoon’s graphics succeed not because it portrays its own levels well or anything, but because it portrays your park so well.

Outside of the 3D, Theme Park World doesn’t quite offer the same variety – you can’t make the Crazy Ape on the ‘Crazy Ape’ ride (genuine name) bright purple or anything, but you’ll be so impressed by the 3D animation of him swinging the passenger-ships around that you just won’t care. You can even go into first-person on some of the rides, which works really well on go karts and rollercoasters. And for everything nice I’ve just said about RollerCoaster Tycoon, the vast majority applies just the same to Theme Park World. Even if the ride selection is a tad more limited and there’s only 4 parks, it’s just as a fun to spend half an hour watching over your completed amusement park running smoothly, feeling like a beneficial, competent and, if you’re not charging for the bathrooms, merciful God.

Both of these games have incredibly graphics, but if I had to choose one – and I do, that’s the whole point of the blog after all – it would have to be… okay, I was actually going to give this to Theme Park World because its 3D graphics are more impressive on a technical level, and in 1999, that was a lot more important than it is now, but I just can’t deny RollerCoaster Tyoon its rightful victory. It is flat-out one of the most visually-appealing video games I’ve ever played in my life, and trying to find screenshots for the little image that goes with the ‘Graphics’ section just reminded me how much better the isometric 3D looks compared to the full-on 3D that Theme Park World was going for. They’re both very nice, but RollerCoaster Tycoon takes this one by a not-inconsiderable length.

Gameplay

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Ooh, now this is a sticky wicket. The bread and butter. The cat amongst the pigeons. The cheese and the hammer. I’ve lost sight of where I was going with this. But this is obviously the biggest and most difficult choice, as the gameplay, AKA ‘How easy and fun is it to make a theme park in these games based around building theme parks?’ is the most important aspect of the game.

RollerCoaster Tycoon has tremendous gameplay, and that’s just about all that needs to be said, but for the sake of filling this out a bit, I’ll expand a little. While it isn’t all initially explained perfectly, RollerCoaster Tycoon gives you, by far, a greater amount of customization – and I’m not just talking about painting the rides different colours – in every scenario you tackle. Even something as simple as building a rollercoaster is all on you. How long do you want the station platform to be? Two rollercoasters of eight carriages or three rollercoasters of five carriages? How high should the first drop be? Should we put brakes here, or an on-ride photo opportunity? Should we stay above ground, or do you want to take this thing through a tunnel or two? How much should we charge? How long is the queue? I love that every decision you make is… a decision you make. It’s up to you. Building a rollercoaster, building a merry-go-round, hiring a handyman, launching an advertising campaign, choosing which kind of ride to research, it’s all on you. You can play the game however you want to play it, and despite the abundance of intimidating buttons with a variety of meanings, it’s easy enough to pick up.

Theme Park World takes a more simplistic approach, but that helps you get involved much faster. Most of the rides just require an entrance and an exit, and the sideshows and stalls blend together well to provide a nice backdrop to the more adventurous rides. I’d say the biggest difference between games is the way you build rollercoasters. In RollerCoaster Tycoon, you manually build every section, which takes more time, but allows you much more control. In Theme Park World, you build the station, and then click on green areas of some distance away to build tracks there. Once the track is complete, you have a basic circuit with no ups or downs, but that’s when you find out that every time you laid a section of track, it was given a support pillar that you can raise or lower as much as you like, although you can’t go underground or over other rides. This feels a little less personal, but it also quicker, and you can always ride the rollercoaster in first-person, which I’m embarrassed to admit was really fun.

RollerCoaster Tycoon gives you a lot to do that doesn’t involve building rides and stalls. With your budget, you can choose to pay back your loan (you always – I think – start with a loan of $10,000) or you can put more or less money into research new things, and you can choose whether to research gentle rides, thrill rides, shops, scenery, rollercoasters or ride improvements. A lot of scenarios come with more land to buy, or land with construction rights for sale so that you can build over the land, if not on it. There’s also an advertising option with a multitude of choices, like advertising your whole park, giving 50% off vouchers for park entry, an advertising campaign for a particular ride, or vouchers for free food or drink, and they all work differently. And then there’s your staff; you can hire handymen to clean up rubbish and vomit (I mean, they clean up rubbish and also clean up vomit, not clean up rubbish, then vomit), empty bins – oh, speaking of that, you can build practical features like bins, lamps, benches, and even jumping fountains – water flowers – oh, speaking of that, you can build a garden area with lots of benches and flowers and shops, guests love that – and they can even wander off and mow the grass, which is infuriating, serves no purpose, and is automatically turned off in their instructions from RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 onwards. Then there are mechanics, for fixing and inspecting rides, and you can choose how often a ride is inspected (put all your rollercoasters on ‘Every 10 Minutes’ and thank me later,) and security guards to stop people from vandalising the aforementioned scenery, and entertainers to lift the mood of the park, and – Oh my God, there’s just so much to do! It’s an intense real-time strategy game disguised as a fun amusement park simulator. There are MMORPGs that wish they had this many options.

Theme Park World is a little less ‘Oh my God there are a billion things happening at once’, but honestly, it suffers a bit for that. Sometimes, when you’ve built all you have to build, you don’t have much else to do, which never happens in RollerCoaster Tycoon, in which there is always something else to build or something that can be improved, which sounds like it would be an annoying uphill struggle, but actually just kept you consistently involved and ambitious. Hiring staff in the game was a little simpler, but added the conundrum of ‘Do you pay a lot to hire an expert cleaner, or pay half the price to hire a scrub who you hope can scrub?’ thanks to worker-tiers. It was easier to get into, but the satisfaction didn’t last as long.

Overall, I’m giving this to RollerCoaster Tycoon. In Theme Park World, I was constantly bugged to ‘set my workers’ patrol areas’ and could never be bothered, whereas in RollerCoaster Tycoon, I did so voluntarily because the game just gave me the option and showed me how it made sense. I’m not entirely sure if that’s relevant at all to the discussion of gameplay, but I can waste so many more hours playing RollerCoaster Tycoon than Theme Park World because there’s so much more I can do.

Tutorials

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Both of these games have learning curves that could best be described as ‘AAARGH!’ but the reward for learning the controls is most definitely worth your time. And fortunately for you, they also both feature great in-game instructions; no manuals here, because… I lost them. RollerCoaster Tycoon has a bulletin feature at the bottom of every game that announces important messages and gameplay tips, while Theme Park World has a talking ant-like creature (seriously, it isn’t confirmed to be an ant anywhere, it is strictly described as ‘an ant-like creature’) who offers you advice. And both of them than sometimes be a little irritating.

Starting with RollerCoaster Tycoon, there is a genuine tutorial, and somewhat amusingly, you can take it over and ruin it, because the game will move the mouse and click things for you, but you can interfere. However, interfering stops the tutorial, so it’s kind of a one-time gag; anyway, there’s a tutorial in the game for building a gentle, boring ride, and making your own rollercoaster. And it’s good, because making rollercoasters is quite difficult at first. And, as someone who just can’t keep the intensity rating of any of his rides below 9 (even the Ice Cream Stall; no, especially the Ice Cream Stall,) it remains quite difficult throughout the entire game, albeit still very fun.

For Theme Park World, I just want to ask if you’ve ever played The Wolf Among Us, The Walking Dead, DuckTales Remastered (or watched any DuckTales movies or cartoons with Launchpad McQuack,) or Sam & Max Season 2 or 3. Because if you have, you’ve heard the voice of Terry McGovern, who provides the voice of the ant-thing in Theme Park World who is constantly popping up to give you advice, letting you know when a ride has broken down, congratulating you on winning a Golden Ticket, or unveiling a newly-researched attraction. And the voice-acting is surprisingly good! It can be annoying to be told for the hundredth time ‘Your cleaners could keep the park, well, cleaner, if you set their patrol areas!’ but there really is a lot of helpful information to take away.

Back to RollerCoaster Tycoon, the bulletin at the bottom is also quite helpful, and it always gives you good news along with bad so as not to annoy you too much. If your park entry fee is too low, or you win an award for being the best value park in the country, or… having the best bathroom facilities – that’s an actual award, I’ve won it several times now – then the bulletin will let you know. But it is also annoying to be told that a ride has broken down (which it will do constantly when your park reaches a certain size) or that a guest is lost (which it will do constantly when your park reaches a certain size and you don’t have enough Information Kiosks) or that you’ve won an award for having the worst food in the country (also won that one several times.)

Back in Theme Park World, you still have to pick up a lot of the controls yourself, but they’re mostly easy to figure out. Also, as much as I just praised Terry McGovern, I never actually heard his voice because I was playing the UK version where the ant was voiced by Lewis MacLeod, who does voices in Star Wars games and is currently playing the role of Postman Pat. But he was great too, and it was his Scottish accent that had me looking forward to being told that my rides were broken, I was running out of money, and ‘Your mechanics would do a better job of keeping your rides maintained if you set their patrol areas!’

This is a bit of a close one, but I’m going to give it to Theme Park World. Both games can be a little confusing and there’s a whole lot to learn, but RollerCoaster Tycoon opens with literally a gigantic toolbar of options that are mostly not explained. Now that I’m an expert, I know what they all do, but it takes time and a lot of patience; more patience, I estimate, than it would take to start playing Theme Park World. Victory for Terry McGovern and Lewis MacLeod. If only they’d told me to set my patrol areas more.

Music

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I wouldn’t normally cover the music of two games I was comparing with such a nonplussed air of “Huh? Oh yeah, this is a feature too, I guess,” but there isn’t a lot of music in either of these games, and it’s not presented as an important part of the experience. Nevertheless, there is definitely enough to compare and contrast, and while it’s not exactly the Moon Theme from DuckTales, both games have genuinely enjoyable soundtracks.

The first piece of music I’d like to present from RollerCoaster Tycoon is hopefully already being listened to, because I put it at the beginning of this blog. The merry-go-round theme is one of the most recognizable pieces of music in the game, because aside from the dodgems, the merry-go-round is one of the only rides that automatically plays music. There are actually loads and loads of tunes in this game, and themes to choose from to go along with your rides, but so few of them are automatically on – I imagine because the park would sound very cluttered if they all played at once – that a lot of players will miss them.

I don’t know why, but I always played the Jungle world in Theme Park World first, which I regret, because I’m putting the Halloween music here. It’s very Halloween-y, but also quite nice. It’s not the kind of thing I’d download to listen to outside of the game, but bear in mind; this tune isn’t intended for that, it’s intended to provide background noise that compliments the sound of your rides operating, your guests laughing, and your staff complaining. And it does that very well. I could definitely picture myself feeling as if something was missing but not knowing what if Theme Park World had no background music.

Back to RollerCoaster Tycoon, and I’m going with the Title Screen music, because, again, it’s likely that nobody would recognize the others. I don’t know how you would go about creating music that sounds funfair-y, but this tune definitely does it. The one oddity is that the opening sounds a bit out of place; not bad, but not something that fits in well in a game about building rollercoasters. The rest of the tune sounds like whimsy and fun and childish glee. I can already taste the candyfloss and picture the security guard tripping and falling into the lake that the Boat Hire is in. But this is good.

I’m reluctant to link to another Theme Park World tune because they’re all quite long, which I suppose is actually rather admirable considering that it’d be pretty annoying to spend 3 hours building a park while the same 5 minute loop repeats over and over, but here’s the Wonderland music. Honestly, it’s a pretty similar piece to the Halloween theme, thematically, and I am probably the only person pretentious enough to be talking about the themes of the background music in Theme Park World. What I mean is that it doesn’t do much, but it has a definitely air of fantasy, but remains suitable for background music more than anything else, which would be bad if that wasn’t what it was designed to do.

This is one of the more difficult choices to make, because I think RollerCoaster Tycoon has much better music, but it isn’t presented very well. Heck, if you go through the whole game without ever building a merry-go-round, the only music you’ll ever hear is the menu theme. And not that the menu theme isn’t nice, but it’s not enough to beat the entire Theme Park World soundtrack. Theme Park World because it does a better job of presenting its music than the competition. Huge congratulations to James Hannigan, because he composed all of the music by himself, like a musical Chris Sawyer.

Scenarios

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While there’s an obvious difference in the number of scenarios in each of these games (RollerCoaster Tycoon: 22. Theme Park World: 4,) there is definitely an element of quantity over quality that needs to be discussed. A lot of RollerCoaster Tycoon’s scenarios are quite similar, and while the same could be said for Theme Park World, every ride in every park is different, whereas in RollerCoaster Tycoon, you will be building the same merry-go-round near the entrance (because your guests just have to hear that music when they walk in) every single time.

Let’s go over the RollerCoaster Tycoon scenarios. I’d like to say ‘they fall into X number of categories’, but honestly, some categories would be very big and others would be very small. However, their goals are a bit limited. Most of the time, it’s ‘Here’s a blank area, build a park!’ Sometimes it’s ‘Here’s a small, pre-existing park. Build more of it!’ and sometimes it’s even ‘Here’s a small, pre-existing park with a pre-existing problem. Fix it, then build more of it!’ But they’re all basically the same; build a good amusement park. Then again, if you’re playing RollerCoaster Tycoon and object to the idea of having to build good amusement parks over and over, I’m not sure why you made that purchase in the first place.

Theme Park World’s 4 levels are as follows. Lost Kingdom (Jungle), Halloween World (Spooky Scary), Wonderland (Fantastical Fantasy) and Space Zone (Futuristic Technology, and… isn’t this also a world in Super Mario Land 2?) While the numbers are small, each park gets its own individual ride. In the Lost Kingdom, you can build Dino Karts and the Belly Bounce (bouncy castle,) whereas in RollerCoaster Tycoon, you can build Go Karts and a Spiral Slide. In Halloween World, you can build Krypt Karts and the Brain Buster (bouncy castle,) whereas in RollerCoaster Tycoon, you can build… Go Karts and a Spiral Slide. However, this doesn’t make too large a difference, because aside from the aesthetics, the Theme Park World rides are still basically the same. There are a few completely individual ones – that ‘Crazy Ape’ ride has no counterpart in Halloween World, but mostly they fulfil the same criteria.

To take a more positive look at RollerCoaster Tycoon, the scenarios, while similar, can easily be made different through the very basic changes between assignments. Leafy Lake is basically Forest Frontiers, but with a lake. But that lake actually does change things up. Do you want to build a Boat Hire? What about a Log Flume? What about a Miniature Railway that goes around the whole lake? Or a rollercoaster that plunges straight into the middle of it? Even without looking too deeply into the simple changes, RollerCoaster Tycoon does have some genuinely original challenges, like Dinky Park, the tiny park that teaches you that sometimes, expansion is mandatory, and the infamous Rainbow Valley, in which you can’t alter the landscape one bit. Or Ivory Towers, which made me laugh for a full minute because literally the entire park is covered in vomit and vandalism, as you have two intense rollercoasters, but no handymen or security guards?

Meanwhile, outside of one park having dinosaur-themed rides, and one park having Halloween-themed rides, there isn’t too much of a difference between levels. That is still enough to keep things entertaining though, and as much as I love RollerCoaster Tycoon, after the first few levels, you stop feeling excited at the prospect of new rides being research because you’ve already seen them all in other parks. Theme Park World does prolong the excitement, and it is still a huge bonus that all four parks have different settings, music, and even difficulty. I don’t think I ever finished Space Zone.

Overall, in spite of what I said about quantity over quality, RollerCoaster Tycoon has to take this. 22 different scenarios VS 4 different scenarios. The differences are more, um, different in Theme Park World, but aside from cosmetics and the odd exclusive ride – which often applies to RollerCoaster Tycoon as well – it doesn’t offer anything that makes up for the gap in numbers. It doesn’t lose on quantity over quality; it loses on quantity and quality over quality. RollerCoaster Tycoon takes this one.

Final Verdict

So that’s it. Both games have a lot going for them, and both deserve a mountain of recognition. Unfortunately, RollerCoaster Tycoon was the only game that really got a mountain of recognition, but hopefully I’ve inspired at least one person to at least watch a quick ‘Let’s Play’ of Theme Park World. And I hope that if nothing else, I’ve awakened some nostalgia, because both of these were legitimately some of my favourite games from childhood.

But there can only be one winner.

RollerCoaster Tycoon or Theme Park World.

Chris Sawyer VS Ant-Man

The winner is…

RollerCoaster Tycoon

I can’t imagine anyone is that surprised by this, but I would like to say that Theme Park World gave a valiant effort in this fight. It just happened to be going up against a game with almost limitless replayability. It will take you about three hours to beat a single scenario in RollerCoaster Tycoon, and including the expansion packs, that gives you about 250 hours of gameplay. I’m 90 hours in after I got re-hooked, foolishly playing it again in order to remind myself of the game so I could write this blog. In comparison, Theme Park World gave me some great nostalgia, and I can’t state enough that it’s a good game, but… it’s ‘good, really’. It’s not ‘really good’. The parks are smaller, fewer and less customizable. RollerCoaster Tycoon offers more just about everywhere.

And to be frank, I feel like there are a hundred amazing things I didn’t even mention about RollerCoaster Tycoon; it’s that kind of game. The kind of game where you can name your guests, and if you name someone ‘Damon Hill’ or ‘Michael Schumacher’, they drive twice as fast on the go karts. Or how when you win a scenario, all of your guests stop what they’re doing to applaud you, which means they let go of their balloons, and they all float up to the sky in a beautiful rainbow pattern before all popping over the course of 10 seconds, like virtual bubble wrap. Or how ferris wheels are awful, and you should never build one, because your guests can only leave the ride two at a time, with a whole revolution of the wheel in between. That last one doesn’t sound good, but even the bad things in RollerCoaster Tycoon are charmingly nostalgic.

Overall, I’d love to say this was two good games going head to head, but that would be a lie; it was more like one good game going up against an exceptional game. Kudos to Theme Park World, but RollerCoaster Tycoon sent this one flying out of the park, like the carriage of a steel rollercoaster set to Powered Launch Mode that you forgot to adjust correctly.

I can at least say that I safely brought back some nostalgia to certain gamers, because I’m a certain gamer, and this was a nostalgic pleasure to write.

Next time on Game Wars, we’re heading back to ancient Greece to see if Spartan: Total Warrior can take down… *lightning crackles*… the God of War.

Thanks for reading!

-The Dopefish

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