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January 26, 2006 | Marcus Albers

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RollerCoaster Tycoon 3
One of the latest tycoon games to make it to the Macintosh is the latest entry in a series of popular tycoon games for the PC. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, from our friends at Aspyr, allows you to build parks full of the ultimate thrill machine.

The RollerCoaster Tycoon series has always been first and foremost about rollercoasters, and building the best and biggest ones. The original games used the common 2D isometric graphics of the day, and were very detailed. But, like many games of today, this sequel delves into the world of 3D. This not only allows for more detailed and varied rollercoaster designs, but it also allows you to ride your creations.

One of the amazing features of this game is the population of people in your park. While other tycoon games of this type show the masses mulling about, they are generally a representative sampling of real-world numbers. In RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, you will literally see hundreds of little people enjoying (hopefully) your rollercoaster park. You will see huge lines form at your most popular attractions, and you'll get a real idea of where congestion lies in your park layout. It really adds to the realism of the simulation.

Sim fanatics will be pleased to know that you have control of everything in the park, from the cost of rides, to research funds, to the cost of the soft drinks at the cola stand in the south end of the park.

If you simply want to design rides, you can leave the financial aspects to the simulation and work on your mad ride design skills. Create the most thrilling coaster in existence, and switch to the first-person mode and give it a ride. Fulfill your wildest ride dreams with this game. Just make sure to keep the Pepto-Bismal handy.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 review

Classic Tycooning: Theme Park and Sim Theme Park
Theme Park by long-defunked developer Bullfrog and Sim Theme Park by Electronic Arts can be considered the grand-father and father of the modern tycoon game.

These games, at the time, were classified as "sims", in the same vein as SimCity and its ilk. However, they have much more in common with modern tycoon games, in that they concentrate on one aspect of a community, in this case, theme parks, instead of the community as a whole.

Theme Park allows you to create a theme park from scratch. You get to design the layout, place the rides, and control the finances. Use your money to research bigger and better rides, concessions, and attractions. The game may seem dated compared to today's games, but it is still quite challenging if you can find a copy to play.

Sim Theme Park came quite a few years after the original, and was one of the first games of its type to enter the 3D realm. This is the first game that allowed you to enter first-person mode and actually ride your attractions. While this might not seem that interesting for the kiddie rides that you start out with, once you worked up to building your first custom coaster, this mode was excellent. Yes, Sim Theme Park trumped RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 by not only allowing you to design your custom coaster, but also allowing you to ride it in full 3D. While the feature is much more advanced in the later game, there is no denying that Sim Theme Park paved the way for more advanced tycoon games.

Free Tycooning (almost): Open TTD
One of the earliest examples of tycoon gaming came in the form of Transportation Tycoon from Microsoft for the PC. This game was much the same as Maxis' A-Train or Railroad Tycoon, giving you control of the transportation system of a city. This includes not only the rail system, but the road-based mass-transit system, the sea-faring transportation, and the airlines. This tycoon game was a truly complex and involved game, with some very nice isometric graphics to boot.

Unfortunately, Transportation Tycoon was build for DOS, and then Windows 95 systems, and doesn't run too well on modern PC operating systems, and not at all on other platforms, particularly the Macintosh. So, when Microsoft released the source code for the original game, an enterprising group of coders began the process of porting it to modern operating systems. It can now be downloaded and used on a modern Macintosh running OS X.

You will have to get a hold of a copy of the original game, as the graphics, sound, and scenario files are still covered under copyrights held by Microsoft. However, if you can come by these files, you will find a very deep game that, while looking dated, will keep you enthralled for hours as you manage the minutiae of your transportation empire.

Tycoon games have a long history on all platforms, and it seems that they are not slowing down anytime soon. German developers Epic Interactive have been readying the airport simulation Airport Tycoon Deluxe, and GarageGames announced that they were working on a port of the wildlife simulation Wildlife Tycoon: Venture Africa for the Macintosh. With the popularity of these games gaining every day, look for more tycoon games to appear on the Macintosh in the future.

Related Links
Lemonade Tycoon 2
Railroad Tycoon II: TSC
Railroad Tycoon 3
Zoo Tycoon Complete Collection
Zoo Tycoon 2
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3
Sim Theme Park
Airline Tycoon Deluxe
Wildlife Tycoon: Venture Africa
Pocketwatch Games



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