GDC 2019 Hands-On: RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures

Wednesday, April 10th, 2019

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RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures | Logo

Publisher(s): Atari
Platform(s): Nintendo Switch, PC (Epic Game Store)
Release Date(s): December 13, 2018 (Switch), March 19, 2019 (PC)

I loved RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 on my PC back when I was in high school. I would build each structure wall by wall, landscape, and -of course- building rollercoasters. So when I dived into Atari’s finally-released RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures for the Nintendo Switch at GDC 2019, I was surprised, and somewhat pleased, at the simplistic fun offered in the sandbox mode.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures | Scenery

You get to design your own parks with plants, rides, and more in RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures. (Image courtesy of Atari).

In RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures‘s sandbox mode, you are given a rather extremely large -no, even bigger than you’re thinking- grid system to build your own dream park upon. RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures allows you to pick up and ‘drop’ things like concession stands, landscaping elements, and pre-made roller coasters on the map. You then connect them with a variety of ground tiles in order to have the public be able to access the rides. You can also set prices for admission to the park, from anywhere from nothing to exorbitantly high. All that said, RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures will tell you the attending public’s mood as you continue to build your sandbox landscape, and you will have to adjust things around in order to keep people both happy and supplying you with income.

Where RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures truly excels is the controls, as this is a well-handled game on the Nintendo Switch. The controls to select and place shops and whatnot are extremely intuitive and I had no problems doing so whatever. In what turned out to be a pleasant surprise, however, is the controls to adjust a rollercoaster. To adjust one, you first select a ‘node’ on the ‘coaster, and then you adjust it. You then move to another ‘node’ and adjust it to your liking as well. While this does seem initially limiting, I was surprised by the amount of flexibility that I still had to re-design pre-made coasters in my sandbox park. This is a game that is clearly designed to be played with Joy-Con. That said, while I did not get to explore all the ins-and-outs of the game, I definitely noticed that there did not seem to be a way to terraform the terrain like I could in RollerCoaster Tycoon World. While the grid system I was working within was great as a flat plain, I found myself kind of wanting to put a rollercoaster on top of a man-made hill or to throw in a random waterfall wherever I wanted, and this feature was sorely missed by me in sandbox. The lack of control that I had over designing the environment -while still being able to throw down rides and concessions with abandon- really surprised me, and I am hoping that it will eventually be added into the game.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures | Terrain

The day/night cycle goes rather fast in this game, so you can get fairly quick feedback on your manmade parks. (Images courtesy of Atari).

RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures | Terrain

In short, I found myself enjoying RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures. This game does not even pretend to be a sequel to the 2006 release RollerCoaster Tycoon World, and to be honest- it shouldn’t. This is clearly meant to be a game that plays to the pick-up-and-put down nature of the Switch, with the player being able to dive into his or her park, add a detail or two, let time pass, and then shut the game off for awhile until he or she is able to pick it up again. That said, I am definitely still waiting for a true franchise sequel to come about

…So please make one, Atari?

What kind of rides would you like to make in RollerCoaster Tycoon Adventures? Do you wish that Atari would put out a full-fledged game in the franchise?

Let me know in the comments below!

About Quentin H.

I have been a journalist for oprainfall since 2015, and I have loved every moment of it. Do you want to do an interview? You can reach me at