Stop the ride, I want to get off!

Digital marketplaces like the App Store and Google Play are governed by a set of unwritten rules. RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile from Atari breaks a biggie by charging players admission for a game packed with the waiting and premium currency purchases typical of a free-to-play title.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile has another problem: It’s just not very good. It’s not unplayable by any means, but there’s little about the game that differentiates it from other mobile games based around developing and running an amusement park. That’s kind of a sad thing to have to say about a title that bears the legendary RollerCoaster Tycoon moniker.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile

Nevertheless, build you must. RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile puts you in charge of a patch of land that you need to nurture into a thriving destination of fun and games. If you don’t, the mayor will turn the lot into a strip mall. Boo to shopping! Hooray for riding the teacups after eating corn dogs, and other bad decisions made in the name of good times!

To run a successful park, you need to generate income and excitement. The two resources feed off each other: When you build a lot of rides, they generate buzz and bring more peeps into the park. Once they’re in, peeps – in this case, the game’s slang for “people” and not sugary Easter treats given legs and life – spend money on food, lodging, and cheap toys that the kids will probably throw out the car window on the ride home. In turn, money goes back into improving the park.

Building roller coasters is obviously a big part of RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile, though there isn’t much to the process beyond laying down track. Don’t expect to employ physics. Even creativity doesn’t pay off as much as it should: I made a wooden roller coaster that literally goes in a flat circle, and patrons still seemed happy with it. I guess every park needs a wuss-out coaster for folks that can’t handle g-force beyond what’s generated by a gentle walk.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile

RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile‘s uncomplicated gameplay is disappointing on its own (forget micromanaging your park on any significant level), but the real kicker is having to endure long wait times for building construction and upgrades. At the time of its release, the game costs $2.99 to download, but you still wind up waiting hours for a roller coaster to install. Unfair.

Of course, tasks can be sped up using tickets, the game’s premium currency. You start out with a handful, but it depletes quickly. Tickets can be restored (slowly) by completing tasks, but there’s no reason why you should have to speed up your actions in the first place. This is a paid game. If you want to put down a coffee shop, it should happen instantaneously.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile does little to earn its name, or its price tag. Sad as it is to say, it’s almost indistinguishable from any other free-to-play building game. Atari is obviously hoping to sell the game on its name alone. For that, somebody in charge needs to be forced to ride on the last car of a wooden roller coaster for a year straight. No bathroom breaks.