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Aspyr Media
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RollerCoaster Tycoon 3
November 8, 2005 | Dustin Smith

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What happened to the good days when a game didn't have to be flashy to be great? It just had to rely on good solid level design, strong colorful visuals, and responsive gameplay. But like all good things coming to an end what does one do? They either stick it into a compilation so someone can play it for a few minutes and then switch to the next game, or make a 3D sequel. Oftentimes it sounds like a great idea but occasionally brilliance falls on its face. A couple of games come to mind that haven't done so well in their dimensional "change," such as Mega Man Legends (PSX), Mega Man X7 (PS2), or Street Fighter EX (PS2). Most times brilliance will survive the fall to get back up again and pick up where it left off (Worms to Worms 3D), but every once in a while the dimensional makeover will result with astounding success; Warcraft III comes to mind. Fortunately the people at Frontier Development and Atari took a turn in the right direction when they gave Rollercoaster Tycoon the 3D treatment. Although not perfect, it does give more than a glimmer of hope for the finished product and potential increases in the franchise!

Out of the line and onto the train
Frontier has given the graphics a huge overhaul. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 (RCT3) feels like a completely original game, but for those of you who have played the original either on PC or Xbox it still has that same nostalgic air. I started up with the tutorials, of which there are seven in all. The first one was Camera Control and showcased a small park with one coaster. This tutorial does a great job of getting you in the mood of creating your own park, plus it shows off one of the newest features about RCT3, which is the ability to ride the rides. No longer do you sit on the sidelines watching as hundreds of happy customers get to throw up after riding your Coaster of Doom: you can, too! You can even choose which seat you want to sit in. Other tutorials include the basics of building your own coaster, as well as creating your own fireworks show with the brand spankin' new Fireworks MixMaster. The Fireworks MixMaster may sound daunting at first but it really is very fun and simple to use. Not to mention it really lights up your park at night! That's right. Frontier has added night and day elements as well. The graphics really get shown off as your entire park lights up with color due to either your impressive fireworks show or the rides themselves lighting up for all to enjoy.

The rides aren't the only things to get a 3D overhaul; the peeps have, too! Your park patrons, lovingly referred to as "peeps," come in a variety of shapes, sizes, and colors now. No longer will your park look as if it was infested with Oompa-Loompas. You can even create your own family of peeps under the tools menu. You can alter peeps' size based on three age brackets—junior, teen, and adult—switch up skin color, hairstyle, and clothes, and even name them. This allows you to locate them when you finally start playing the game. They will show up in any scenario so you can then have fun finding out what rides they like the best. Another fun feature about your custom created group is that whenever they take photos, either at a photo location or by your instruction, the photos they take will show up in the rotation of in-game screenshots in the menu. Neat!

Even though your park already has a tidal wave of diversity with hundreds of different peeps wandering around, Frontier and Atari didn't think that was enough. They have created five different themes for your park as well: Generic, Spooky, Western, Sci-Fi, and Adventure. Unlike another Mac title, Sim Theme Park, all of these themes can be incorporated into one park. So you can mix your sci-fi rides with western style shops and souvenir stores. But beware, because your peeps may not like it and leave your park. Stupid judgmental peeps. Like I said before, basically everything is influenced by these themes including rides, shops, and entertainers. This way instead of having the SkySling as a thrill ride in a western themed park, you can have the Bucking Bulls. And instead of just plain ol' burgers, try selling the Bison Burgers by your Bucking Bulls.


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