Help us find the most kid friendly roller coaster game
February 21, 2021 10:21 AM   Subscribe

Pretty much as the title says! Young DTMFA is 9 and we think he would love one of the games where you can build roller coasters & amusement parks. It looks like we could get either planet coaster (Ps4) or roller coaster tycoon (Switch). Which should we get?

Both look suitable for what we're looking for, which is mainly the ability to build cool coasters and then see the ride from a first person perspective. All the park management aspects are a bonus.

If anyone has played both of these games, which would you recommend we get and why?

If anyone has played one of these games, do you think it would be a good game for a 9 year old, or are the mechanics too complicated/fiddly?
posted by DTMFA to Media & Arts (6 answers total)
I've fiddled with Planet Coaster on XBox, and found it to be mildly irritating getting things to line up -- it didn't seem to "snap" things very well, preferring to give me infinite positioning control even when I didn't give a damn about that and just wanted my damn pieces to connect so the rides would work. May be the PS4 version is different, but I'm not gonna bother to play it again on a console. If it were free on PC, well then maybe. I guess -1 vote for Planet Coaster.
posted by aramaic at 10:37 AM on February 21

Our 9 year old didn't get on with Planet Coaster on Steam, we eneded up gettgin a refund, just a bit too complex I think.
posted by tomp at 11:25 AM on February 21

Best answer: I've played both of them (well, PC versions).

Planet coaster is much newer than RCT -- RCT is basically a 17 year old game -- and the graphics are a ton more realistic. Planet Coaster is also a lot more configurable, which can lead to a lot of fiddling. On the other hand, since RCT is based on a grid, it's a little more restrictive sometimes, which can also be frustrating. It also offers a lot fewer options for loops and the like. The one killer feature that PC has that RCT doesn't is a heatmap on coasters, so when it's too intense, you can see what part of the track is intense. It's also a little smarter in that, for instance, sending a roller coaster through a building makes it more exciting.

Both games have good features for (my mental model of) a 9 year old boy, including sandbox modes with no limits on money, prebuilt coaster designs available, the requirement for a janitor to clean up vomit, and the ability to "test" a partially completed coaster by sending it off the end of the track into a crowd of people, with the people flying around and then getting up and going about their day, Bugs Bunny style.

I'd probably recommend RCT overall. If I understand correctly, it's got the added Soaked and Wild content, which permit the addition of pools/waterslides and (in a very limited way) zoos, which add more options. (Planet Zoo is a heads-and-tails better zoo game, but has all of the finesse/finickyness of Planet Coaster). RCT has a lot simpler, blockier graphics but Minecraft seems pretty popular with that limit.

One thing I will note is that RCT has a handful of scenery items that are a little... dated and problematic; for instance, both games have western scenery with animatronic cowboys, but RCT also has "Indian" animatronics; stereotypical shirtless, feather-headress types. Also a belly dancer and some other cliche "Arabian" content; etc. Not a ton of this stuff, but 1 or 2 percent of the scenery items wouldn't make the cut if it were developed today instead of 2002.
posted by Superilla at 3:13 PM on February 21 [3 favorites]

I was about 12 and my sister 10 when we got into the original RCT on PC, as a data point. We loved it!

I've since played the newer one and while riding coasters is cool, the old one is the one I reach for, probably for nostalgia reasons!
posted by freethefeet at 4:20 PM on February 21

Minor correction, the game on the Switch would be Roller Coaster Tycoon Adventures which was developed and released in 2018, and is a different game than the earlier RCT games in the franchise from the late 90's to early 2000's. I haven't played any RCT game so I can't say what sort of difference that makes, but I imagine it makes some difference.
posted by Aleyn at 8:04 PM on February 21

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is available for Switch, remains better than Adventures from what I can gather.
posted by arha at 1:38 PM on February 22

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