RollerCoaster Tycoon

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This article is about the first game in the video game series. For the entire series, see RollerCoaster Tycoon (series).
RollerCoaster Tycoon
Cover art
Developer(s) Chris Sawyer Productions
Publisher(s) Hasbro Interactive (PC)
MicroProse (PC)
Infogrames (Xbox)
Designer(s) Chris Sawyer
Programmer(s) Chris Sawyer
Artist(s) Simon Foster
Composer(s) Allister Brimble
Series RollerCoaster Tycoon
Platform(s) Microsoft Windows, Xbox
Release date(s) Microsoft Windows
  • NA March 31, 1999
  • EU April 12, 1999
  • NA/EU March 25, 2003
Genre(s) Construction and management simulation
Mode(s) Single-player

RollerCoaster Tycoon is a construction and management simulation video game that simulates amusement park management. Developed by MicroProse and Chris Sawyer and published by Hasbro Interactive, the game was released for Microsoft Windows on March 31, 1999 and was later ported to the Xbox game console. It is the first game in the RollerCoaster Tycoon series.

RollerCoaster Tycoon has received two expansion packs: Added Attractions (released in the US as Corkscrew Follies) in 1999, and Loopy Landscapes in 2000. Two special editions were released: RollerCoaster Tycoon Gold/Totally RollerCoaster in 2002, which contained the original game, Added Attractions/Corkscrew Follies, and Loopy Landscapes; and RollerCoaster Tycoon Deluxe in 2003, which contained the content in Gold plus more designs for the different customizable rides.


The premise of the game is to complete a series of preset scenarios by successfully building and maintaining amusement parks through business ownership as a theme park entrepreneur. The key to any park is building a large amount and diverse range of rides for the visitors. Players can choose from dozens of roller coaster types and can also build log flumes, carousels, bumper cars, haunted houses, go karts, ferris wheels, and swinging ships, among other rides. The intensity and type of rides must be balanced, as visitors' preferences vary significantly from person to person. For example, some guests prefer exciting rides and have high nausea tolerance levels, while other guests are just the opposite.

Park maintenance is important to keeping visitors satisfied. The player may hire handymen to sweep paths, empty garbage cans, water flowers and mow lawns; mechanics to inspect and fix rides; security guards to prevent vandalism within the park; and entertainers to entertain the guests. The player must also balance their budget by managing the park staff and ride operation costs, as well as setting prices for park entry, rides, and food items.

A screenshot showing a log flume.

The geography and landscaping of the park can be modified, allowing the player to lower/raise terrain and add water to improve the park's attractiveness, as well as to allow rides to fit into their surroundings more easily. Tracked rides (such as roller coasters) and pathways may be constructed underground, either partially or entirely. Players must also balance the needs of the visitors by strategically placing food stalls, concession stands, bathrooms, and information kiosks. Pathways must be added to connect the attractions and must be done efficiently so that the visitors do not get lost and become unhappy. If there is no pathway leading from the exit of a ride to the park's main pathway, the guests will wander around until they find a pathway. Unless they are saved by the player, guests may also drown if the exit is placed over water without a pathway. They can also disappear if the exit is placed underground and has no underground pathway leading from it.

Adding items such as garbage cans, benches, lights, and various thematic elements and forms of architecture will help improve the visual quality of the park. Not only can this be done to the player's discretion or desire, placement of these items also pleases park guests and increases the park's approval rating. Garbage cans and benches also serve practical purposes; for example, guests can rest on benches after strenuous rides, reducing their risk of vomiting on the paths.

The player also has the option of building their own roller coaster designs as well as other rides by laying out individual track pieces, choosing the direction, height, and steepness, and adding such elements as zero g rolls, corkscrews, vertical loops, and even on-ride photos, using a tile-based construction system. Custom-designed roller coasters and thrill rides must be designed carefully so that the ratings are within the desire of the guests (i.e.: the excitement ratings should be as high, and the intensity and nausea ratings should be as low, as possible). The rides must be designed and operated to minimize the risk of a crash, as well. It is advisable to hire mechanics that can repair broken rides and inspect them to minimize their malfunction. Continuous, closed circuit coasters that use multiple vehicles are susceptible to a collision in the event of a station brakes failure. If one vehicle strikes another on-track at high speed, the colliding vehicle or train will be destroyed instantly. Open circuit and special kinds of roller coasters run the risk of the vehicle(s) flying off the tracks and crashing if designed improperly. If a vehicle on a ride crashes, any guests within will be killed. Ride crashes that kill guests will drastically decrease the park rating, which is detrimental to your objective. A ride that remains unmodified following a crash can cause the guests to turn it down in fear for their life.

There are 21 scenarios included with RollerCoaster Tycoon, as well as 30 more in the Corkscrew Follies expansion pack, and another 30 in the Loopy Landscapes expansion pack, totaling to 81 scenarios if the whole set is installed. There are also 3 promotional scenarios released with magazines and 11 official scenarios created by Hasbro for competitions, as well as 3 real amusement parks and 1 extra park that are available in the Deluxe edition. Some scenarios afford the player empty tracts of land on which to build the park from scratch, but most place the player in control of an operational park that is usually underdeveloped, dilapidated, or suffering from poor planning. If the player deems the park undersized for his needs or desires, they may be able to purchase land for the park, or construction rights allowing them to build on top of the land (but not directly on it).

To complete a scenario and unlock a new one, a certain objective must be met by the player. For most scenarios, the objective is to either have a minimum number of guests, or build the park up to a certain value, by the scenario's deadline of one to four years. Years in the game are only eight months long; from the start of March to the end of October (mirroring the time of year in which real-life theme parks located in the northern hemisphere operate). Objectives in a scenario can generally be achieved by building your park up and maintaining it well. Scenarios in the Loopy Landscapes expansion pack are usually unique and contain winning conditions that are extremely different from those in the rest of the game.

There is also a built-in tutorial that can be accessed from the main menu. It takes place in Forest Frontiers, the first scenario. It shows the player how to build a carousel, open the amusement park, build a custom roller coaster, hire a mechanic, and exit the game. The player can take control of the tutorial and play it as a normal game at any time by clicking or pressing a keyboard button.


Guests are the visitors to the amusement park. They have specific tastes in rides, such as rides with an intensity rating "above 4" or "between 2 and 6". Their nausea tolerance levels vary from "none" to "high". Guests have ID numbers instead of names (e.g. "Guest 212"). There is an optional feature that comes with the expansion packs which gives the guests random names instead of ID numbers. Giving guests specific names can unlock Easter eggs and/or cheats. Guests only vary in clothing colors, but otherwise look exactly the same. Each visitor brings a variable amount of money with them into the park, and will pay to enter the amusement park if there is an entrance fee, as long as they have enough money and not too expensive.


The Claustrophobia (black) and Agoraphobia (white) dueling coasters in the Diamond Heights scenario

RollerCoaster Tycoon features 22 scenarios, with the first five open from the start. Successfully completing a scenario will unlock the next one. Additionally, Mega Park is unlocked when all 21 scenarios are completed. This scenario has no objective (except "Have Fun!"), but allows the player to build on nearly the entire map, and eventually has all attractions available to build. This is the closest to a "sandbox" park, except the player does not have an unlimited amount of money to work with, only a $50,000 loan.

Some scenarios are based on real parks. For example, 'Katie's Dreamland' (Katie's World in the US Version) is based on Lightwater Valley, complete with that park's signature The Ultimate roller coaster (The Storm).

There were two official scenarios available for download from Atari's website, Fort Anachronism and Alton Towers. Alton Towers was included with the Loopy Landscapes expansion with Heide-Park and Blackpool Pleasure Beach and was updated to take advantage of the new game components. Both scenarios are also included as part of RollerCoaster Tycoon Deluxe. The UK edition of RollerCoaster Tycoon Deluxe contained Blackpool Pleasure Beach in place of Fort Anachronism.


Scottish game developer Chris Sawyer originally wanted to create a sequel to his highly successful Transport Tycoon, but after becoming obsessed with roller coasters, he changed the project into RollerCoaster Tycoon. Sawyer wrote RollerCoaster Tycoon in x86 assembly language, which was rare for a game published in the late 1990s. Some functions were written in C for interaction with the Windows operating system and DirectX.[1]

The game was to be called White Knuckle for the majority of the game's development. However, to follow the tradition of the Tycoon titles, the game was renamed accordingly.

For his efforts, Sawyer received about $30 million of the estimated $180 million brought in by this game as well as Transport Tycoon and two other RollerCoaster Tycoon games.[2]

A feature-length movie adaptation is set to begin production,[when?] as Sony Pictures Animation has pre-emptively picked up rights to the video game. Harald Zwart is spearheading the development of the big-screen adaptation as a possible directing project and will executive produce. David Ronn and Jay Scherick are attached to write what will be a live-action/CGI hybrid.[3][4] Chris Sawyer is represented by London-based interactive rights agency, Marjacq Micro Ltd.


Aggregate scores
Aggregator Score
GameRankings (PC) 87.00%[5]
(Xbox) 63.31%[6]
Review scores
Publication Score
GamePro 9/10[5]
GameSpot 8.6/10[5]
IGN 8.5/10[7]
PC Gamer (UK) 91/100[5]

The original PC version was wildly popular for its originality and success in simulating an amusement park. GameSpot rated the game 8.6/10,[8] while IGN scored the game an 8.5/10.[7] Common complaints about the game were that it lacked a sandbox mode (which was added in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3) and that there were sometimes awkward building situations caused by the isometric camera angle. It was also widely criticized for having no fast forward option.

The Xbox port received mixed ratings due to very little improvement. The only exclusive features are no menu buttons (they were accessed by holding the X and B buttons) and a magnifying glass cursor that can be toggled by clicking the left thumbstick.

Expansion packs and sequels[edit]

There were two expansion packs released for the original RollerCoaster Tycoon game. The first was Added Attractions (known as Corkscrew Follies in the United States), which added additional scenarios, rides, facilities, and themes of scenery.

The second expansion pack, Loopy Landscapes added much of the same, but also introduced a wider variety of scenario objectives beyond the park value or visitor number criteria used previously. For example, the player might now be expected to build a set number of roller coasters above a minimum excitement rating, or achieve a certain amount of income from ride tickets. Other scenarios allowed the player an unlimited amount of money to build the park and to hire staff, with failure occurring if the park rating dropped below a fixed minimum.

Several sequels would follow RollerCoaster Tycoon and its expansion packs: RollerCoaster Tycoon 2, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3D, RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile and RollerCoaster Tycoon World.

See also[edit]


  1. ^ Frequently Asked Questions: about Chris Sawyer & Game Development
  2. ^ Frith, Holden (8 November 2005). "Games writer sues Atari in $5m royalties dispute". The Times. London, England: Times Newspapers Limited. Retrieved 31 August 2013. Atari's revenue from Mr Sawyer's games, including Transport Tycoon and three versions of Rollercoaster Tycoon, is estimated to be about $180 million. Mr Sawyer received about $30 million in royalties. 
  3. ^ Rollercoaster Tycoon on Joystiq at WebCite (archived 8 April 2011)
  4. ^ Rollercoaster Tycoon on IGN Movies at WebCite (archived 8 April 2011)
  5. ^ a b c d "RollerCoaster Tycoon Reviews and Articles for PC". CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  6. ^ "RollerCoaster Tycoon for Xbox". CBS Interactive Inc. Retrieved May 16, 2012. 
  7. ^ a b RollerCoaster Tycoon at IGN
  8. ^ RollerCoaster Tycoon at GameSpot

External links[edit]