Want to build an empire without all the usual bloodshed? Try RollerCoaster Tycoon, which
puts you in total control of a theme park, managing every detail from ride development to rescuing
lost guests. A simulator in the style of SimCity, this game has a simple enough concept: build a
park attractive enough to draw in hoards of tourists and then separate them from their hard-earned
money. This is accomplished by researching and building rides, along with amenities, gardens and
decorations. Once you have your infrastructure, and the staff to maintain it, it's time to sit
back and watch the funds roll in...all in hopes of building an even bigger rollercoaster somewhere else!
The big draws in a theme park, the coasters are expensive and flashy. They lure in thrill-seeking
guests prepared to pay top dollar for a wild ride. RollerCoaster Tycoon even allows you to
design the coasters yourself, a finicky but ultimately rewarding operation.
Despite a clunky interface and the usual simulator drawbacks--such as long waits while you acquire
funds for the next ride--Rollercoaster Tycoon is an utter gem of a game. Its soundtrack,
a mix of calliope music and ride machinery, is mixed with the sound of guests squealing with delight
and terror as the coasters hurl them around. The sound mix is joyfully evocative, and you can almost
smell the cotton candy and the popcorn.
Best of all, you can play in this theme park for hours without once losing your children or friends,
getting sore feet or experiencing motion sickness.