I’ve never been a big mobile gamer. And I’ve never been into RollerCoaster Tycoon.
I bought it for PC years ago thinking I’d play the hell out of it. A system that felt antiquated and an unwillingness on my part to sit in the same spot for hours meant I never clicked with it.
Now finally, in 2018, I’m playing the hell out of it.
It’s an old game. First released in 1999, the isometric graphics and clunky controls show this. I wouldn’t say I had any nostalgia for it, so why play it now?
Yet here I am, tapping my iPhone screen, playing RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic all day long.
My journey towards this game started with the “Ugly Park” Youtube videos created by Pet Simmer Julie. In these she acted the role of sadistic park developer, trying to please her investor overlords, while making the park a horrifying experience for her customers.
‘Damn’, I thought, ‘I really want to play this game’. Though I didn’t want to navigate the inaccessible PC version I’d played years ago.
Then at the end of her video, Pet Simmer Julie mentioned the difficulties in recording this game on mobile. Wait… On mobile? I can play this old game on mobile?
So here I am, wrapped up in bed, tapping away at my iPhone screen, building a looping roller coaster on my lakeside theme-park.
For a game made for PC, it is surprising how well it works on smartphone. The touch controls make learning the game feel intuitive. While I’m still struggling to make a rollercoaster with more than one loop, it would have took me twice as long on the computer.
I just tap where I want my ferris wheel. Swipe over to the other side of the park and deal with the litter problem. Oh, I need to feed my guests? The proliferation of twenty burger stands just takes a few taps.
Honestly this makes me want to find what other Tycoon games are on iPhone. Or any other game like this. It makes me think that if Dwarf Fortress was on smartphone, I’d have a much easier time getting into it.
Yet I’ve played a few older games on my iPhone which do not work so well. The original Rayman, for instance, is gross with touch controls. Games like this have to be adapted to endless runners to work on mobile.
RollerCoaster Tycoon is part of a subset of older games which work great on touchscreen.
The organisation and proliferation of my little park comes much easier when it’s on my phone. I don’t have to sit in front of it for hours. I can close the app whenever I want, knowing my denizens will be waiting to go on my rides as soon as I feel like playing again.
In a lot of ways this is the definitive version of the game. It suits my fifteen-minute break much more than my precious free time in the evenings.
So, if you see me engrossed in my phone in public – just know I’m not browsing through social media. I’ll be tapping away, playing RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic.