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Game Over Online ~ Rollercoaster Tycoon: Loopy Landscapes

GameOver Game Reviews - Rollercoaster Tycoon: Loopy Landscapes (c) Hasbro Interactive, Reviewed by - Rorschach

Game & Publisher Rollercoaster Tycoon: Loopy Landscapes (c) Hasbro Interactive
System Requirements Windows 9x, Pentium 90, 16MB Ram, 45MB HDD, 4x CD-ROM, Rollercoaster Tycoon
Overall Rating 87%
Date Published Wednesday, October 4th, 2000 at 08:42 PM

Divider Left By: Rorschach Divider Right

Let me start off by saying, so it doesn't continue to be a distraction to me later: Please, enough with the AOE2 already. I wrote that column a month ago, and yet I received another 2 emails yesterday, probably from very slow readers (three weeks from now I'll get an email saying "Hey! I am not!). The final summary: of the 81 emails that I received, 65 agreed with me ("You da man!", "A whole f**king year!", "I agree."), 14 disagreed ("You're full of s**t", "Stupid. Stupid. Stupid.", "The greatest XP ever!"), and frankly two responses were so incoherent that I couldn't tell what they wanted. One ranted about government and, I'm pretty sure, alien interference in the software industry. The other was entirely in French, of which I speak not a word. I believe I wrote back to every one of you (the guy who wrote to me in French I wrote back to in German). If you fell through the electronic cracks, I'm truly sorry. Praise or disapproval, your letters at least mean you're reading, and for that I'm grateful. One thing I do have to say regarding the criticism, however. I had at least 5 people wrote me letters to the effect "Let's see you write a game and I'll criticize it." Right. Right. Because I can't make a game, I also have no idea what constitutes a good game. By extension, then, because I can't make a steel-belted radial tire, I have no right to question tread separation. Uh-huh. And here I came to write about Rollercoaster Tycoon: Loopy Landscapes, and specifically not AOE2, and yet I've spent of a page discussing just that. Clearly I'm driving myself nuts. Just so long as I'm not doing it on Firestone tires.

An interesting thing (well, an interesting thing to me at any rate) about gaming occurred to me recently. No matter how wholesome a gaming experience a game designer is aiming for, some game players will find a way to pervert it. I achieved this epiphany last week when I was trying to find out how many ways there were for Frogger to die. Even before then, if I had thought about it in that light, there were stories of people drowning their Sims in swimming pools and slapping their Imps to death in Dungeon Keeper. And so, while my wife is designing the perfect flower garden complete with lamp posts and benches to promote peace and tranquility in her amusement park in Rollercoaster Tycoon, I'm building rollercoasters with discontinuous tracks to kill as many passengers as possible. I would then see how far I would have to drop the price to get people to ride my deathtraps again. Maybe I'd have to take out an ad campaign: "Ride the Decapitator!" There's one rollercoaster type which consists of a vertical pole that a car is launched up and then slides back down. I would turn up the launch speed until the car flies right off the top of the pole, raining passenger death down upon the park. Neat! Well, I think it's neat. Hey, whatever floats your boat. Go drown a Sim, if you prefer.

Simply put, I loved Rollercoaster Tycoon. While I found Sim City and Sim Tower playable, after a couple of hours I always want to do something else. In contrast, I've played RCT for 5 or 6 hours at a stretch, continuing to tweak my park and watching the money roll in long after the objective has been reached. It has an addictive quality that attracts many different types of gamers. As I sit here banging away at my keyboard, I can't figure out what makes it so addictive, but it all works: from the simple research model, to the dozens of rides you can build, to the tiny people puking on your walkways. In substance, it was really very similar to a game that came out just a few months later called Sim Theme Park from Bullfrog, which was almost unplayable and really no fun at all. I'm sure people at both Hasbro and Bullfrog are scratching their heads over that one.

When RCT came out, I went ripping through the 21 "missions" (levels? parks?) in no time, and judging from the forums on RCT, I wasn't alone. People loved the game, and yet complained that it was too short and too easy. Hasbro responded quickly with the addon pack. It added a little bit of everything (rides, landscape themes, concessions), 30 new parks, and was a little more difficult, to me at least. It quickly became a bestseller like the game that spawned it. Now they've slapped another addon pack on top of that one, and I'm having some trouble reviewing it.

I think the bulk of my problem comes from the fact that, though I played RCT and the first addon a great deal, I'm really kind of an amateur compared to some of the hard core players. To start with, I've never themed any of my parks at all. No flowerbeds, or statuary, or any of that for me; just rides and concessions at my parks, and the game seems pretty happy with that - I've had parks with sustained ratings of 899 (900 being the highest). Heck, I don't even have my handymen mow the lawn - that's how sloppy my parks are. Just mop up the vomit, and your guests are in a state of bliss. So the theming (if that is even a word) is entirely for your benefit, and is entirely up to your discretion. Additionally, while my parks all turn a handsome profit, I don't spend a lot of time playing with the cost of the hamburgers at the concession stands to wring out every last dime. Get it? Strictly amateur. So I'm hesitant to attach a rating to this game more than most.

This XP adds, like the last one, rides, landscape themes, and concessions, along with another 30 new parks to try your hand at. There seems to have been some minor improvements to the in-game menu system here than there. I could well be wrong about that - there could simply be some functions I haven't noticed up to now. The opening game menu has definitely been organized for the better in that is it now easier to pick a game from the original or one of the expansion packs using a tab and folder system that is much more convenient. The twist in Loopy Landscapes is that they have also brought in some new environments - snow, desert, etc - in which to build your parks, but the implementation of those environments is pretty strange. In snowy environments, for example, the ground is white instead of the green of grass, even when the temperature is over 70F. Magic non-melting snow. Yup. Either that, or someone went berserk with the flocking gun all over the entire park. And when the temperature is in the 30's, people will still get on the water rides. Wheee. Pneumonia. Dig down, say to level out a hill, and you don't strike dirt, you strike more snow. Where are we, the polar icecaps? Maybe with parks entitled "Iceberg Islands" and "Icicle Worlds" we're supposed to be. You can still plant flowers - they don't seem to freeze and die. And it rains, but it never snows. The list goes on, but I think I've gotten the point across. The snow is more a look than an impact, if you get my drift. As a whole, such a strange half-assed implementation that it kind of surprises me, because the RCT series has so far been well thought out. Oh, well, they can't get everything right. I think even more than new environments, I would have liked to have some kind of day/night cycle implemented - all the rides would light up along with the lamp posts on the footpaths. Then again, with a month of game time taking about 10 minutes, it would have gone from day to night a little too quickly. Still, wouldn't that be something to see?

With the new stuff in this XP, it truly seems that you can build onto your park just about forever, as long as you have land to build on (or under, or over) and cash in the bank. That continues to be part of the beauty and one of the most compelling reasons for the addictive nature of the RCT series. Perhaps despite all the little changes and additions, to the average player it will start to feel like more of the same old thing after awhile. Here's where the RCT aficionados tell me that the snowman theming is just the thing they've been looking for around their bobsled rollercoaster. Maybe so. I know that it did get a little same-y to me, but as a reviewer I'm trying to get through a game very quickly to get my review out - I'm really marathoning more than playing the game. Look, the RCT maniacs are going to love Loopy Landscapes, but considering everything, I think the average RCT players like myself are also going to find enough things to enjoy too. That said, I think Hasbro needs to be very cautious about returning to this well too often (Hello, Tomb Raider). While I liked this one, I don't think I'd receive RCT XP3 as kindly.


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