Disappointment of the Year 2014 Runner-up: Rollercoaster Tycoon 4

By Owen Faraday 08 Dec 2014 0
Vomit comet. Vomit comet.

In the case of Rollercoaster Tycoon 4, the term "disappointment" might not fully convey the Titanic totality of this game's failure. Not only did we hate Rollercoaster Tycoon 4 (in my review I said that it was a unique blend of dull and patronising), but series creator Chris Sawyer publicly washed his hands of the thing and publishers Atari have back-pedalled away from it as though a restraining order were involved.

RCT 4 is more egregious than most free-to-play rubbish: it barely pretends to be a game at all, just a fuzzily familiar candy shell encasing a cash register. Anyone who bought the game based on fond memories of the classic PC games was immediately repulsed. It fundamentally misjudges what the original Rollercoaster Tycoon games were all about: the business sim aspect of the game is shaved down to a nub, and the ride engineering aspect is so neutered of physics and maths that you're reduced to making a theme park-styled diorama with no gameplay at all. RCT 4's marketing refers to this as "intuitive" gameplay -- a more accurate term would be "condescending". As in the everyone-wins world of Little League tee-ball, it's literally impossible to lose.

Even for those who enjoy these sorts of challenge-free games, Rollercoaster Tycoon is too tight-fisted and greedy with its premium currency to compete with the likes of Tiny Tower -- you're expected to cough up dough almost constantly, or else spend hours waiting for the game to invite you to play again. RCT 4 is neither a game nor a zen garden -- it's just rubbish.

Hilariously, RCT 4 was meant to be Atari's triumphant return to gaming. The company has died and reanimated more times than a comic book superhero at this point, and the release of Rollercoaster Tycoon was meant to be its grand re-launch. Have a look at the downvotes on visit the 2014 Awards Index page.
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