Atari’s RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride recently released on Playstation 4 with optional Playstation VR support. We took the game for a few spins and used our VR helmet as much as we could – here’s the review.
Whenever Atari releases a new game, I still get nostalgic. I know it’s not the same company it once was and all that, but that doesn’t stop me from perking up and taking notice. RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride was especially interesting when it was announced, because it both builds on the classic theme park builder franchise and features Playstation VR support. It released late last year, and I got to playtest it over the holidays.
Of course, the combination of VR and roller coasters isn’t exactly new. They’re among the most-downloaded Google Cardboard apps, because they require little in the way of controls and give people a VR experience using nothing but their smartphones. We’re even had a few on Playstation VR, where the RollerCoaster Legends series by Warducks immediately comes to mind.
The big new angle for RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride is that it allows you to build your own RollerCoasters and then ride them in VR – but what sounds great on paper can get a little frustrating in reality. This is mostly on account of a somewhat awkward track builder, which you interact with on a regular TV screen as it doesn’t support VR. This is an understandable decision because I assume it would be harder to get a decent overview wearing a VR helmet, but the TV option doesn’t feel that much better.
Most of that is because the camera doesn’t cooperate. You can build from a first person perspective on the track (but then why not support VR, as it would make it easier to get your bearings?), or third person views that are slightly better but still provide an awkward view of what you’re doing. We’ve seen better in other games, and having a good editor is crucial to the creation of tons of fun user generated content.
And that’s really where the heart of the fun is in RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride – riding roller coasters in virtual reality. They sometimes provide nice thrills, but most of the available coasters are nowhere near as good as the two Warducks titles. As with Thor’s Hammer, you can also shoot at targets while riding your coaster – but for an on-rails shooter you’re much better off with Until Dawn – Rush of Blood. The open design with an editor kind of works against Joyride here, as a virtually unlimited number of rides translates to tons of so-so rides in reality.
The development team made sure there are plenty of modes next to the standard sandbox “create what you want” mode, and there’s even a multiplayer option that allows you to create coasters together. After you struggle through the coaster creation process a few times, however, this is a game you’ll mostly boot up to quickly try out a coaster or two – as such I can only really recommend the game to those who haven’t had a similar experience yet. Unless creating your own coaster has great appeal to you or you plan on trying out dozens of coasters, you’re probably better off with the (recently bundled) Warducks titles.