One of our favourite PC games of all time is Rollercoaster Tycoon. Not only did we spend countless hours trying to appease small computer peeps in trying to provide them theme park thrills, but it also helped create an enormously lucrative genre in gaming - the Tycoon game.
Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 is great too, but the best has to be the third in the franchise. Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 is still as relevant today as it was when it came out eight years ago, and although there's no sign of RCT4, you can still get 3 and the expansion packs on Steam, which we'd highly recommend. If you're not a PC gamer, we'd also recommend the new iOS app by the same developer, Frontier, that goes by the name of...
- iPad (version tested), iPhone, iPod touch
Coaster Crazy owes much to Rollercoaster Tycoon, not least that it is, in part, a rollercoaster building game with a modicum of resource management. However, it is much more and much less than that too.
It differs from RCT by being more of an elaborate puzzle game rather than sandbox, and therefore strips down plenty of the micromanagement in preference for focusing on coaster building itself. The game is split into locations, continentally and then within each region.
Each level requires a rollercoaster to be built, and each of those ask for certain criteria to be met. If you are successful, you receive a bundle of cash and a pay packet that's constantly replenishing. If not, you have to tweak away until you crack it.
Once you - and, more importantly, your virtual guests - are happy with your efforts, you can buy up a new plot of land (level) and build a new creation, meeting the harder objectives along the way.
The money earned not only allows you to buy lots of land to build on, but also items to use when doing so. Loops, inversions, scenery and more can help you reach your set goals, but also cost hard-earned wonga. Thankfully, it's plentiful in supply when you've finished several of the levels, so that's not a worry.
You will need to be patient, however, because unless you are willing to part with real money, you have to wait real time, Tiny Towers-style, for land purchases to be completed. Continents can even take 11 hours or so, Cash and gems (which help pay for speeding up the game or other more premium features) can be bought, but we are happy to advise that we've played a considerable amount of the free game without spilling a single bean of our own real-world moolah.
There are some really nice touches to Coaster Crazy. The graphics, for a start, are stunning. The in-game characters have just that, character, and the smoothness at which it runs, even on an iPad 2, is very impressive.
The bits and bobs you get to build rollercoasters with are great for experiment. And Frontier even provides a moon level that allows you to go completely nuts with what you've earned so far, in order to create the most elaborate rides.
You can also go back to former coasters in order to tweak them once you've completed a level, which could award you even more cash, so there's playability even when you've swept through the entire game.
Coaster Crazy is a great, addictive game that provides excellent casual gaming thrills while making us yearn for a new Rollercoaster Tycoon. Come on Frontier, get a wriggle on.