Finally: a RollerCoaster Tycoon game for the Mac. After two previous incarnations and multiple expansion packs on PC and Xbox you would've thought someone might have wanted to give Mac gamers the joy of making people (also called peeps) in your virtual theme park pay $50 or more to enter your park and live off burgers and ice-cream whilst wandering around Happyland for hundreds of days. The sad fact is that someone did, but to mediocre success and unfortunately it was a tragic end to a fantastic company.
Take out your books, children; a short history lesson is in order. I won't cry if those of you who would rather read about what you're going to get after Aspyr rolls out RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 into a Mac Game Store near you just skip to the next paragraph. I might be hurt a little, but I promised myself I wouldn't cry. In 1995 a company named Bullfrog, makers of the classic game Syndicate, gave us puking peeps, over-inflated ticket prices, and the ability to make french fries more salt than potato via the 2D semi-isometric game Theme Park, which came out four years before Atari provided PC gamers with their hit RollerCoaster Tycoon. Then in December of 2000 Bullfrog/Electronic Arts did what Atari/Frontier Development is idealizing now: they made the theme park sim an experience instead of a game. Bullfrog/EA handed Americans Sim Theme Park, while they kept Theme Park World in their European homes (mind you the only difference was the title). Sim Theme Park introduced a variety of features such as four differently themed parks, the "peep-cam" (so you could walk around your park at the peeps' level and ride your own rides), and 3D graphics. With RollerCoaster Tycoon Frontier Development did basically the same thing but with more panache. Unfortunately, Bullfrog is no more as far as I have found, and both Theme Park and Sim Theme Park are out of print.
A tiny note for those who own Sim Theme Park and want to boot it up again but found it ultimately frustrating and buggy: fret no more. There is a patch out that carbonizes Sim Theme Park for Mac OSX which can be found here. (Make your peeps puke once for me…but feed them lots of greasy burgers and salty fries before you do! Tee hee.)
Let's get on to what you have been reading this for: the first-look into Frontier and Atari's RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 (RCT3) for Mac. The original game in the series came out in March of '99 and was a breath of fresh air for the simulation genre. However, RollerCoaster Tycoon 2, which was released in October of '02, did not have much in the way of improvements and was critiqued by critics and fans alike as more of an extended and pricier expansion pack. Now we have RCT3, a sequel that is proud to wear its official sequel title merit badge. Let's start with the graphics, shall we?
Looking at the game you can tell that the graphics engine has had a makeover. Not just one of those sissy Avon call makeovers, but the whole tear down your entire house and replace it with something wild and crazy extreme makeover home edition type makeovers. Why do I say this? Well for one, it's completely done in 3D. Supported by ATI, the graphics have been rendered in superb detail by the people at Frontier Development, Inc. No longer will you be watching the same style of peep wandering aimlessly around your park. Each peep will appear different and full of deliciously colorful polygons: the kid peeps, the female teen, the adult male, and the all-new VIP peeps who will test your tycooning abilities to the max are just a few of the wonderfully tiny digital people to grace your dream parks. Because it is now in 3D there will be camera issues you may worry about. Don't stress over it: drink some Pepto and just relax. You will have complete control over your camera's viewpoint, from blimp mode to peep mode and even on the rides; you'll be able to see your park from angles you didn't even know it had, if you know what I mean. To add to the flavor of your park the entire day will cycle by; day, afternoon, evening, dusk, and night. As the stars come out your park will light up on its own, making for a very colorful display…along with the fireworks. Did I say fireworks? Yes I did, but I'm saving that little tidbit for later. Who says survival-horror games are the only games to play in the dark? From the looks of things this one's going to be pretty.