Coaster Rivals

We look at whether Planet Coaster or Rollercoaster Tycoon World hold up to the famous Chris Sawyer franchise.

JUNE 16th, 2018



RCT WORLD - Available platforms: PC | Developers: ATARI | Cert: U

PLANET COASTER - Available platforms: PC | Developers: FRONTIER | Cert: U

© Frontier


fter the successful Rollercoaster Tycoon 3 was released in 2004 the theme park simulation franchise went all but silent. After contract changes and failed attempts to revitalise the Rollercoaster Tycoon series, it looked as though the popular game would never return. That was until Rollercoaster Tycoon World in 2017. Fans were excited, the gaming community also but then something happened no-one was expecting. Frontier Developments announced the release of their own, somewhat of a sequel, Planet Coaster. Released in the same year, both platforms would go head to head, though which one is the best?

Both games released a demo, which gave an insight into what was expected. Planet Coaster showed real promise and allowed a glimpse for potential expansion. Rollercoaster Tycoon World however gained an overwhelmingly negative reaction due to its lack of freedom and guest animation. Atari responded to the backlash stating that the game was still a work in progress.

© Atari

After having played both games it was hard to not conclude that Rollercoaster Tycoon World was still that, a work in progress.

The basic animation and lack of creative control was disappointing, and the look of the guests was horrendous! There was no distinct appearance or personality. They’re movement was stilted and some even ‘floated’ resulted by, what appeared to be sloppy coding. The placement of rides was confusing, as areas on the map that looked available to use prompted an error message. In all honesty, the entire appearance of the game was amateur and lacked the addictive magic that previous instalments of the game had. However, it wasn’t all bad news. The placement of pathways was quick and easy as was the Rollercoaster designer allowing your park to expand with veritable ease..

By distinct contrast, Planet Coaster showed major potential for development. The freedom to create was amazing and the large quantity of scenery objects allow your imagination to run riot. The guest design was exemplary, with each one developed with their own distinct character appearance. They’re interaction with the attractions, rollercoasters, food and general park area was enjoyable to watch. The pathway system was like RCT World as was the rollercoaster designer. A critique for both games however was smoothing the partitioning between each piece of track. This sometimes effected the on-ride cam’s smoothness. But there was no arguing the beautiful graphics of Planet Coaster that outmatches RCT World definitively.

Both games allow players to link with others within a community that enables the sharing of rides, scenery and so much more. It brings the Rollercoaster simulator world together in a brilliant way.

© Frontier

With expansion packs Planet Coaster, again beats RCT World. So far, no expansion packs have been created of the latter, yet Frontier has developed over half a dozen updates and downloadable packs to further extend the create power of the gamer. These have included movie studio sets, numerous themes with spooky and adventure amongst them. If one thing has emerged from both games, it seems that Planet Coaster’s developers are successfully bringing the Theme Park simulator up to date.

It is a fact not lost on me, as I’m sure with many other gamers who have grown up with the Rollercoaster Tycoon franchise, that no game can live up to the original. The Chris Sawyer game was before it’s time and allowed a creative freedom most games had never given before. It is no surprise that after all the years since it was created, gamers still download it and become addicted.

© Chris Sawyer

Out of the two games only one looks to make the same impact, Planet Coaster. It is of no surprise that Frontier (the original designers of Rollercoaster Tycoon 3) have made a brilliantly addictive and creative game. The take the simple premise of the original RCT games and expand upon them. RCT World doesn’t do this, instead it stunts the game relying the on the name to bring the success. It is probably no surprise that RCT World has outsold Planet Coaster due to the games affiliation with the popular franchise, but if most gamers are like me, then they too will have felt short-changed.

If you love rollercoaster games and like to be imaginative in your design and gaming, then Planet Coaster will not disappoint. It has everything you need, from scenery design to endless possibilities of idea development, and what’s even greater is the developers are adding new scenery and designs to further the endless possibilities of creativity.

It is truly sad to see the Rollercoaster Tycoon franchise lose its way with RCT World, but thankfully Planet Coaster takes up the mantle and delivers not just the game fans wanted, but ultimately what they deserved.

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