Review: Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic

When it comes to the perfect roller coaster simulation game, personally, I look no further than Roller Coaster Tycoon 1 & 2. Growing up, my computer didn’t have the graphics to run Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 properly, and more technical simulators like No Limits are a little advanced for my particular skill set.The original RCT and its sequel were some of the first coaster games I  played, and I found myself constantly coming back to RCT1 & 2 as I grew older. I never got to the point where I could create works of art like several online communities (seriously, check out /r/rct – there’s some incredible stuff there.), but I could kill plenty of time in RCT2’s Coaster Designer mode, and create semi-functioning (enough to pass the objectives anyway) parks when I was bored.

As technology progressed, it got harder to play the original RCT games, as they were designed for earlier versions of Windows, so it became difficult to get my coaster game fix. Recently, Atari revived the original Roller Coaster Tycoon game system for a mobile platform, and released Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic on iOS and Android operating systems. I knew I had to check it out.

The Basics

For those familiar with the early Roller Coaster Tycoon games, Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic provides a very similar experience. With each scenario in the game, you are given an objective at the respective park to complete in a set amount of time in the game.

If the parks look familiar, they should be. Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic consists of 95  from the original Roller Coaster Tycoon, its expansions Corkscrew Follies and Loopy Landscapes, and Roller Coaster Tycoon 2. (Roller Coaster Tycoon 2’s expansion packs — Wacky Worlds [17 Scenarios] and Time Twister [14 Scenarios] are available as well as expansion packs for an additional cost.)

Like the original Roller Coaster Tycoon games, as you complete scenarios, you unlock further scenarios. When you first begin the game, there are 9 scenarios available; the first three scenarios in each of the Graphite, Emerald and Ruby groups. As you complete groups, you unlock further groups.

Like in the PC games, many parks have a set amount of money that can be increased with a loan.


I was pleasantly surprised how well Roller Coaster Tycoon translated to a mobile platform. Like its PC predecessors, the “place, click, build” construction method is the same in Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic.

Unlike the PC versions, you can’t drag your cursor in order to make your attraction fit in a specific location. You place your attraction with a tap, and then tap on the build button to build the attraction. It takes a little getting used to, but once I figured it out, it works very well. If there are trees or other obstacles in your way while building, they will be automatically removed, at a cost.

Playing through a scenario feels nearly identical to the PC versions of the game. Rides break down, requiring mechanics to fix them. Park guests throw trash all over the park, requiring handymen to sweep it up. New rides are funded, with the end goals to get a certain number of guests at the end of October, Year 3, or increase the park value to X amount.

The buttons are in a slightly different location, and require a delicate touch at times. I’m currently playing on an iPhone 6S with larger fingers, and sometimes find it difficult to build paths in the correct direction using the “bridge” feature. (Though I have found that the bridge feature is the easiest way to build paths.) To zoom in, you simply expand or contract your fingers like you would in other apps.

Note: If you need to close a ride and get the ride vehicles off the track, the quickest way to do it is close the ride and immediately click on the construction button. Unlike in the PC version, you can’t “double close” to get everything off the track.

Many of the pre-designed roller coaster options are available in the game. While building roller coasters, I’ve found, especially in parks with space and height constraints, that it’s almost easier to build custom coasters, especially since you have to sometimes play guessing games where a pre-built coaster will fit.

With any custom coaster, be sure to check your intensity ratings to make sure that your park guests will ride!

As you progress through the scenarios and finally complete it, the guests will give you a brief ovation before resuming their activities. One of my favorite parts of the original RCT games returns in the mobile version. If you have a balloon stall in your park, all guests a with balloon in their hands will release them simultaneously.

The Buttons

The buttons on the screen all have the same function as they did in Roller Coaster Tycoon for PC, but some have been moved or consolidated.

  1. The Park – Brings up your objective, park rating graph, guest attendance graph, park admission, report, and awards the park has received.
  2. Park Rating – This bar fills up green and fluctuates based on guest attitudes. Be sure to pay attention to your announcement bar.
  3. Guests – Organizes guests’ actions and thoughts, can be individual or as a group.
  4. Park Staff – Hire Handymen, Mechanics, Security Guards and Entertainers in this button.
  5. Rides – List of rides and attractions in your park.
  6. Money – Check your finances, increase/decrease your park loan.
  7. Rotate – You can rotate to one of four views. A new addition for the mobile version is the ability to change views in both directions, rather than just clockwise.
  8. Land/Water/Bulldozer – Formerly 3 Separate Tabs, this button raises/lowers land, builds water area, and bulldozes scenery.
  9. Scenery – Places scenery, plants, and fences.
  10. Paths – Builds pathways.
  11. Build Rides/Attractions – Self Explanatory
  12. Date – Changes with the time.
  13. Pause – pause the progress, or increase the speed. Can also save, quit, and screenshot from this button.

Three Improvements from Roller Coaster Tycoon 1 & 2

There are several features in Roller Coaster Classic that are not (at least to my knowledge) available in the PC versions of the game, and enhance the overall experience.

  • The Fast Forward Button
    • When clicking on pause, four arrows pop up above the date and pause button for various speed increases of gameplay. You can’t construct anything while the game is in fast forward, but it’s a great way to speed through scenarios or get out of debt during the game.
  • Track Boosters on the Junior Roller Coaster
    • It’s extremely helpful to have a flat booster track on a junior roller coaster. They max out around 32 mph, which is perfect levels of speed for the Junior Coaster.
  • Pop Up Money Amounts
    • When money is made, the amount pops up on the screen in light green. It’s helpful in knowing where your money is coming from.


There are a few things from the PC version of RCT that haven’t made their way to Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic yet.

  • Inclined track on Car Ride and Go-Kart Tracks.
    • While the pre-built versions of the Car Ride attractions have inclined tracks, if you custom build Car Rides or Go-Kart tracks, they have to be on level ground, as there is no option for inclined track. This has been fixed. Thanks RCT Classic Development Team!
  • Vandalism
    • In parks that have pre-existing benches, lamps, and trash cans, vandalism always seems to be a problem, definitely more than the PC versions of the game. You can hire a ton of security guards and replace these scenery items, but the park guests will continue to vandalize them.
  • Money when demolishing a tracked attraction
    • When demolishing a tracked attraction, be sure to deconstruct it one piece at a time to retain money. If you trash an attraction at one time, you seem to lose a large portion of the money.

Final Thoughts

Like I mentioned earlier, I’m playing on an iPhone 6S, and have almost gotten the button pressing precision down, even with fat fingers. I imagine that it’s a little easier on an iPad with some more screen surface to work with.

If you’re like me, and have been craving the nostalgia that comes with playing Roller Coaster Tycoon for a long time on your mobile device, Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic is an amazing jump for the classic game to be playable on the go with today’s technology.

The main version of the game, featuring the aforementioned 95 scenarios, is a very affordable $5.99, with each scenario expansion pack costing $1.99. So for under $10, you get over 120 scenarios which promise hours of gameplay. If custom scenarios and “sandbox” mode are your thing, there is also a Tool Kit available for $5.99 that also features the custom coaster designer from Roller Coaster Tycoon 2.

You can buy Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic by clicking on the links below.

iOS: App Store

Android: Google Play Store

Have you played Roller Coaster Tycoon Classic yet? What do you think? Let us know in the comments below!

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30 Responses

  1. Nick says:

    Just rediscovered how easy it is to get sucked into this game. My favorite tip is to charge $20 for umbrellas. The peeps will still buy them and you make a ton of money every time it rains.

  2. Meg says:

    Can’t find the control that toggles the scenery on or off. Help?

    Also, I just remembered how much fun I’d have playing this. Just wish the controls were a bit better for iOS. I killed a mechanic by accident too. Put him over the water and he drowned.

  3. Nick says:

    Pause button > Options > Hide Scenery

  4. Emily P says:

    How can you buy the expansions? I can’t find it in the App Store

  5. Emily P says:

    Never mind, I found it!

  6. Andrew says:

    @Emily P: (I’m on an iPhone, but am assuming it’s the same across platforms)

    Open the app and get to the main menu (The Start New Park/Load Saved Park Screen) — in the bottom right corner, there’s a gold triangle with a “+” in it. That’s where you can buy the expansions and tool kit.

  7. Dusko says:

    I got this game with all expansions and all I can say it’s amazing! Probably best for Android that you can get these days! Before it was just a dream to have this game on your phone, and now look at it! I have been a noob at it in PC version, but I play this on my phone every time when I can! It’s just so great, no waiting and gems, no needed IAPs (you can buy expansions but they are not required to enjoy the game like in others)! I have a phone that’s not for gaminf at all, but this game still runs so smooth and it’s a great port! I definitely recommend this game!

  8. Jon says:

    How do I expand my territory

  9. Marta says:

    I’ve completed all the scenarios in the first 4 groups, minus a couple of the coaster-building ones. How do I unlock Amethyst on?

  10. Joseph Gerber says:

    Roller coaster Tycoon 2 is honestly one of the greatest PC games ever. The graphics may not be that advanced, but I can still get extremely in-depth and creative with all of the controls and design choices.

  11. Matt says:

    It won’t let me charge admission to the park. Is everyone else having this same issue?

  12. Andrew says:

    @Jon — I think if you go to the park screen (park rating, number of guests, objective, etc.) — there are icons on the side of that window (underneath where to open the park) that shows where you can buy land. I think it varies by scenario.

    @Marta – you have to complete all the scenarios in a group to unlike future groups. Graphite unlocked Saphire, Emerald unlocked Amethyst, and so on.

    @Matt — Some of the scenarios are pay per ride, some are free rides but you can charge for admission. There’s not a scenario I’ve seen yet that lets you do both.

  13. Mike says:

    Vandalism at my park can’t be controlled no matter how many guards I hire, why is this?

  14. J L says:

    Vandalism is controlled by not letting your guests get angry while in the park. Guards only prevent vandalism that they are nearby.

    In the original game, you always lost money by demolishing a whole ride instead of deconstructing it piece by piece. This is not a bug, it is the original intent.

  15. BALSNXS says:

    How do you activate advanced PATH BUILDING MODE…? I have been stuck and cannot build paths that elevate….am I missing something?

  16. Mike L says:

    I’ve been trying to figure out how to build a ride (Go Karts, in this particular case) underground. How do you make a tunnel?

  17. Bill says:

    Where are see-through view options?

  18. Kev wilson says:

    For the pc version there is now Openrct2 which is similar to this mobile version where you can fast forward as well as various patches and fixes and work in place to remove the maximum ride restriction on making new scenarios. Great to see there is still interest and work on this nearly 20 year old game!

  19. Kev wilson says:

    Above comments:

    BALSNXS you have to click on the path option and there’s 2 options to place a footpath or queue area. Either touch to place or build a bridge. It’s easier to click the bridge type option and then click on an existing piece of footpath or ride entrance/exit then you should have the options to make a path like the original name which include raised and lowered paths.

    Mike L: you first have to raise the land where you want the bridge/tunnel to go and then should be able to build the track type through it.

    Bill: see through options are in the options menu which can be accessed in the pause game button on the bottom.

  20. Jessica says:

    How do you exit the scenario to start a new park/scenario??

  21. Steven says:

    I have found a glitch where to many guest come to my park and they won’t leave. Also I can’t close the park. The option to close the park just doesn’t exist. This is a custom map I made with the in app purchase. I don’t know if that’s why but this problem really stinks

  22. Nick says:

    Save your park then hit quit.

  23. Nick says:

    Pause button and go to options, as Kev wilson said.

  24. Jon says:

    I can’t change park admission price!

  25. Emily says:

    Hey, does anybody know how to change the name of your park/rides?

  26. Robin says:

    Is there any way to unlock the parks without playing them?

  27. Paul says:

    Food and Drink are small-margin profit centers — best to keep these prices very low to a small loss or break-even, as guest willingness to buy food/drink at lower price keeps them happy and satiated, increasing park rating. Maps should be free, but the umbrellas you can charge a decent amount and guests will still purchase — definitely a nice profit center.

    Also, check guest satisfaction and popularity with individual rides. Satisfaction should be around 75% to be considered optimal: if lower, lower the admission price; if higher, raise the admission price. I like to run a marketing campaign for a big roller coaster ride, jack up the price, make available more cars on the track to increase capacity, and hire an entertainer to entertain the queue so guests don’t get agitated. Huge bump in cash flow with small costs = profit.

  28. Emerald says:

    How can I zoom in and out using in the Android TV box and a mouse

  29. Lorraine says:

    Love the game! I have found that vandalism occurs if the vomit/garbage is not being cleaned. Hire lots of handymen. How do you get a handyman path underground in Canary Mines?

  30. Megan says:

    I can’t figure out how to buy the expansion packs/toolkit. I followed the instructions above but I didn’t see the yellow triangle with the plus sign. I am playing on a iPad. Any help is appreciated!(: