Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 – Believe all the slating reviews: this mobile management-sim is a tale of woe and shattered memories
No Good, Much Bad, Such Ugly
There are games that take a classic concept and yank them into the modern era in a transition that’s smoother than the proverbial criminal in MJ’s hit of a similar name. And then there are s that seem developers that seem to want to drag once-brilliant concepts and series into the future, no matter how much they seem to be kicking and screaming as they are being treated in such a tragic way.
One such developer that has screwed the pooch in a wildly unacceptable manner is Atari, with their wish-it-could-even-be-described-as-shoddy release of Rollercoaster Tycoon 4. Seeing that Roillercoaster Tycoon was once a classic PC-based management/strategy/building affair (and a great one at that), it seems remarkable that a developer can possibly ruin such nostalgic brilliance. But steep in-app purchases add insult to the injury already sustained by the app’s £1.99 price tag, and let me tell you, the insults just keep on coming.
I purchased Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 with a certain level of expectation that this game, partly because of the greatness of Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 and below, and also because Atari have managed to wonderfully recreate the colourful and distinctive look of the previous games, but also because Atari have decided to give this game a numbered title instead of it being suffixed with “Mobile” like many other games are named. The implication here is that this isn’t a mere mobile version of a great series: it is a great series moving to the mobile platform, and its quality is worthy of an entire generation of Tycoon game greatness. Or so I thought.
Release Date: 04/09/2014
Available on: Mobile
Having already paid a fairly reasonable (or so it seemed) sum of £1.99 to download the game, you’re then popped into a tutorial where you learn the ropes of the game. Things move at a decent pace here, with you being encouraged to build various parts of your park and even spend some premium currency (tickets) to accelerate the timers that otherwise require you to wait for work on your park to be carried out.
In terms of interface, the series hasn’t transitioned well to a touchscreen environment, with things feeling crowded and the building of your park being a little too clumsy unless you’re playing on an iPad or other large Android tablet. But this is forgivable as you’re distracted quite often by the wonderfully detailed park around you, watching the little people mill around getting on and off rides and other such activities.
What cannot be forgiven however is the bait-and-switch technique, with the bait here being the short timers and ready-to-use currency available in the early stages of the game and the thing that’s switched with this being the ridiculously lengthy timers that slow things down the rest of the time. To do anything that could be considered entertaining you either have to wait an age or pay for premium currency. This would be borderline acceptable if the wait times were a little shorter and if you hadn’t had to fork out £1.99 up front for the game, but you do and, well, it isn’t. Acceptable I mean.
The money-grabbing and shameless promotion continues when you reach a bottleneck in progress. This is the point where your next goals/tasks involve you needing to do something that requires more experience points or more coins than you currently have. The only way to proceed from here is to pay real money for more currency, wait out the unbearable timers, or do things like share the game on Facebook. Even Jesus can’t forgive this kind of shamelessness, and he’s pretty much known for being the most forgiving being ever to have (maybe) existed.
Sadly, the game isn’t even very challenging either, unless you count the financial challenges you’ll face if you decide to plough your own money into this disappointment. If a ride should break (and they do, seemingly at random), all you have to do is tap on it to repair it.
Redeeming qualities here are quite sparse, save the colourful and playful design that’s a bit reminiscent of when these games were actually good. The whole “paymium” thing really isn’t acceptable, and the game isn’t challenging enough to make any of the waiting for forking out of cash worthwhile. What’s happened here is Atari have realised they had been raising a cash cow for over a decade with Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 and below, and they’ve finally gone ahead and started to milk it. Not cool, Atari. Not cool.
Roller Coaster Tycoon 4 is developed by Atari.