RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition Review: Not a Roller Coaster of Love

When it comes to sim-games, there are few as beloved as the RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise. The series has been a staple on PC since 1999, but has largely avoided console releases over the years. RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition is a rare exception, and it seems like the kind of game that would make a lot of sense on Nintendo Switch. After all, the system's portability is perfect for this sort of game, particularly in short bursts. While the game is bursting with content, it also suffers from a few notable problems that prevent it from reaching the same heights as its PC predecessor.

For the uninitiated, the RollerCoaster Tycoon franchise allows players to open up their very own theme parks, and customize them as they seen fit. Players start with some basic rides and attractions, but can build their very own coasters to attract enough visitors to bring in the cash necessary to keep the park running. Parks also require a lot of upkeep, so players will have to maintain the rides and make sure that visitors are kept happy.

The most jarring thing about RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition is the fact that the game never really feels like a Switch title. While the handheld hybrid has played host to a plethora of ports since its release in 2017, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition feels out-of-place in a way that can't be said for a lot of other Switch games. The title feels like it's been unceremoniously dumped on to the system, with little to no changes, and this is glaring in a couple of notable ways.

The controls in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition are, for lack of a better term, bad. What's most disappointing about this is the fact that the Switch's touch-screen could have made for an easy transition. Sadly, this is not included as an option. Instead, the game opts for a cumbersome button layout that never feels intuitive, or easy to learn. Players can look up the controls from the menu, but these are far from comprehensive, since accomplishing tasks usually requires pressing a combination of buttons. Complicating matters, the game essentially leaves the player to their own devices, making it easy to get confused for those that might not be terribly familiar with the series.

This lack of effort can also be seen in the menus. They literally look like windows one would find on PC, and little effort has been made to pull the camera in or make it better fit with the handheld's screen, as players might have to squint a bit as a result. It's not as glaring an issue as the game's controls, but it adds to a sense that little was done to optimize the game for the platform.

Players that can stick out the game's problems will be happy to know that there's a wealth of content to explore. In addition to the base game, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition also includes the Soaked! and Wild! expansion packs. Soaked! gives players the ability to create their own water parks and water-themed attractions, while Wild! gives players the ability to create animal-themed parks and attractions.

All in all, players have more than 300 coasters and rides to choose from, 60 shops, and more. With all of these options to select from, customization fans have a healthy dose of content to create with. Those that haven't experienced the game on PC will find a lot to keep them busy as they design their own original creations.

The presentation for RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition is fine. The graphics are nothing out of the ordinary for the series. It's a look that has served the series well since its inception, and the game doesn't make any major changes to that formula. That said, the game's coaster cam option is a cool feature, granting players a first-person view of the game's rides. With most theme parks around the world closed at the moment, it's a very welcome addition. As far as sound goes, the game is dreadfully silent when the camera is panned in to see details in the park. Things start to get noisier as the player pans out to see the park as a whole. It's an odd feature, and the silence is almost uncomfortable. There are multiple music options to choose from, but it would have been nice to hear more of the music while working on the parks.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition has a lot of content, and the sim-genre is a perfect fit for portable gaming; this should be a match made in heaven. Unfortunately, the game is hard to recommend when so little effort seems to have been put into making the game look and feel enjoyable on Nintendo Switch. The controls are so painful and the experience feels so phoned-in that it's hard to recommend this game, knowing that there's a version that's likely superior to this one. If players are willing to overlook the cumbersome controls, there's a good game to be found here, but this is the rare Switch port that should have stayed on its original platform.

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Rating: 3 out of 5

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition is now available on Nintendo Switch. A retail code was provided by the publisher for the purpose of this review, and it was reviewed on a base model Nintendo Switch.