RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition (Switch) review: Plenty of ups and downs

by MaddOx
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It’s always fantastic revisiting games from your childhood. Ok, well not always. Sometimes the newer versions can distort your nostalgic memories of all the good times you had previously. But would that be the case for RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition? With the game receiving a Switch port not too long ago, we decided to jump on this ride and find out for ourselves.

Hearing that the RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 was coming to Switch, I was very intrigued. It was an absolute beast of a game back in the day, and I spent many an hour creating theme parks of my own wild imagination. And to see the game came with both the Soaked! and Wild! expansions was a pleasant surprise. However, I know that porting PC Games to console doesn’t always go so smoothly, especially with simulation and strategy games.

Now, it’s an old game so graphics weren’t going to be the best, and I’m sure the file sizes will have been compressed to save space. But in today’s world, for both the core game and the expansions, 3GB didn’t seem like a lot. Especially as I was expecting maybe some new graphical enhancements or features for the Switch. But it was a game built with simple pixels and sprites over 16 years ago, so maybe I was just expecting too much.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition theme park in the sunshine

Sadly though, my worries of a PC port of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 came to fruition as instantly I came into contact with a few bugs. But that wasn’t before I had to get my head around fiddly controls. I mean, everything is so simple and easy when you’re on a keyboard and mouse, but porting the mechanics to work on a controller can be a pain in the rear for even the best developers. And there was so much that needed to be accessed and only a limited number of buttons to pin everything to.

There is a tutorial to get you used to RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 as you start your career as a RollerCoaster Tycoon, but it doesn’t cover everything from the off, although as you start to do new things in the game, more help does pop up which is nice. But, sadly, it didn’t make the controls any less fiddly. You do get used to it in time, but it did take some time, though maybe it was just me being old and used to the old PC controls. Though one thing that couldn’t be solved so easily was the terrible camera controls.

Once I’d gotten used to the controls on RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 and was whizzing through each park, smashing every goal that was set before me, I started to enjoy it more and more. Even when I couldn’t get the exact camera angles that I wanted. That was until the bugs I mentioned earlier kept crawling on in. Firstly, freezing. It was constantly happening every time I’d pick a large pre-built coaster and moving it around the park trying to find suitable locations.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition constructing a thempark ride

The next bug, if it is one, as it may just be another poor condition of the port like the camera controls, was laying paths. Previously, the PC version paths would fit to the land as you’d want them too, and you could adjust the ground as needed, with it normally snapping into place. However, even when your template showed how the path would look, as soon as you lay it down on a slant, the ground would change and normally drop a level. Meaning paths wouldn’t match up. And due to the fiddly controls, it was a nightmare to fix manually, as things wouldn’t snap into place like on PC.

It didn’t deter me though, and I was adamant to push through. And I’m glad to say the more you persevere with RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 on the Switch, the more enjoyable it becomes. It’s nowhere near the amazing experience I had previously on PC, but it was an enjoyable one nonetheless. Being able to take a blank canvas and creating a magical world where everyone can come and enjoy themselves. It brought back fond memories. And it was great to see the game still had the ride onboard camera feature. Letting you sit on the rides and experience them in first person.

It’s just a shame that despite all it does well, the RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 port is flawed in many ways. It feels a bit better on the big screen, but in handheld, with such a small screen and those fiddly controls, it just didn’t work as well as I’d hoped. But as stated, it can be difficult to port PC games to console, and the Switch was going to be no exception. I mean there are still so many AAA developers who don’t make their games available on Switch, or have to offer run down versions like FIFA with its Legacy Edition.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition theme park at night all lit up

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition overall thoughts

As much as I wanted to love RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, I can only just about bring myself to like it. It’s a poor port from PC to Switch, that has fiddly controls and numerous bugs, some I’m still yet to find I expect. And whilst I did enjoy allowing my overactive imagination to create some absolute masterpieces that could only exist in my mind, the lack of improvements to the game as it came over to Switch, was a bit of a let down. Even if that let down did include all the expansions. If you played the original, it might trigger some nostalgic enjoyment for you. But you will need to give it time.


RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch was developed by Frontier Developments and released on September 24th, 2020. You can find more details on the official website HERE. And if you want to check out more of our reviews, then just click HERE.

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