RollerCoaster Tycoon is a series of simulation video games about building and managing an amusement park. Each game in the series challenges players with open-ended amusement park management and development, and allowing players to construct and customize their own unique roller coasters and other thrill rides.

The first game was created by Scottish programmer Chris Sawyer, with assistance from various leading figures from the real-world roller coaster and theme park industry. The rest of the series contains three other main games, expansion packs, a number of ports, and a mobile installment. A refresh of the series, RollerCoaster Tycoon World, was released in November 2016, and followed up by RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures for Switch in 2018 and PC in 2019.

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The player is given control over an amusement park and is tasked with reaching particular goals, such as improving the park’s value, attracting more guests, or maintaining the park rating. Some scenarios in the game provide an empty plot of land and allow the player to build a park from scratch, while others provide a ready-built park which usually suffers from deterioration, bad planning, or underdevelopment. The player must wisely invest the limited amount of money provided.

Most scenarios require that the goals be achieved by a specific in-game date, or else the scenario is not ‘complete’. Completion of scenarios is a prerequisite for unlocking further scenarios in the first RollerCoaster Tycoon game. In RollerCoaster Tycoon 2, all the scenarios are available for play and the player can complete them in any order they choose.

The player is responsible for building out the park such as modifying terrain, constructing footpaths, adding decorative elements, installing food/drink stalls and other facilities, and building rides and attractions. Many of the rides that can be built are roller coasters or variations on that, such as log flumes, water slides and go-kart tracks. The player can build these out with hills, drops, curves, and other ‘special’ track pieces (such as loops, corkscrews and helixes), limited only by cost and the geography of the park and other nearby attractions. There are also stationary rides, such as Ferris wheels, merry-go-rounds, and bumper cars, most of which only contain single ride ‘piece’ and are very limited in terms of variation. Rides are ranked on scales of excitement, intensity, and nausea, all which influence which park guests will ride those attractions and how they will behave afterward. The player can set the prices for park admission rides and guest amenities, although care must be taken so that guests will not think prices are too high. The player is also responsible for hiring park staff to maintain the rides, keep the park clean, enforce security, and entertain guests. Players may also invest in ‘research’, which unlocks new rides and improvements as time goes on, though it costs money to continue research. Research in a particular category is disabled when all attractions in that category are researched.

The guests, who are integral to the gameplay, are treated as separate entities which can each have particular characteristics and be tracked by the player around the park. The game keeps track of how much money they have, what they are carrying, their thoughts, and what their current needs are (thirst, hunger, etc.). Each guest also has some unique features such as their preferred ride intensity, and their nausea tolerance. Some scenarios are even biased towards a specific guest demographic and require the player to take this into account in designing the park. In RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, the player can create their own guest groups to visit their parks.

Sequels have continually upgraded the number of rides and amount of customization available to the player.

Each week, the Epic Games Store offers a number of free titles to those with an Epic Games account. Last week saw Football Manager 2020, Stick it to the Man, and Watch Dogs 2 all on offer for free. Replacing these titles this week is a re-release of the classic simulation title ‘RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition’.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 allows players to “Build the park of a lifetime and rediscover the critically acclaimed rollercoaster simulation bestseller,” as they “Feel the thrill of a genre-defining classic.”

Originally released in 2004, the Complete Edition is a brand new release which comes with a number of additions and improvements, including the two expansion packs ‘Soaked!’ and ‘Wild!’, as well as a number of enhancements for modern machines, such as the ability to play in “widescreen for the first time with full 1080p resolution and increased compatibility for new PC hardware.”

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 saw high praise from critics upon its original release in 2004, with particular note being given to the level of customisation and high skill ceiling, allowing for unique and interesting builds – with both expansion packs only adding to this.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition is available to purchase and download for free from now until the end of the month.

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