Have you ever wished you could build your very own theme park full of crazy rollercoasters with enough twists, turns and drops that made everyone on them sick to their stomach, only to come back for more? Unless you’ve been a long-time PC gamer with fond memories of Roller Coaster Tycoon, the concept of being able to do such things is more than likely pretty foreign to you. With the recent release of Coaster Crazy for the iPad and iPhone, you now have free reign to create your perfect vomit comet and let your mind run free.
Frontier Developments Ltd. also happen to be the minds behind other similar games like the Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 expansions, Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 and the highly forgettable Thrillville series, so you can say they have plenty of experience in the world of thrill rides. So just how fun is their latest endeavor with Coaster Crazy? Read on to find out.
Meet The Crazies
Coaster Crazy starts you off with a global view of your potential theme park sites. Your first destination is Australia where you’re greeted with a charming tutorial by the operator of all your future coasters. He introduces you to The Crazies who are cute, indestructable, cartoony characters with specific demands in what experiences they expect from your rides. Unless you fulfill them all, you won’t be able to open your coaster to the public and you must go back and tweak your design until you find the right balance.
In order to open your parks and add special scenery and special parts, tracks and cars to your roller coasters, you need to earn cash by completing goals and achievements. So long as you’re on point with making the best rides possible, you’re very unlikely to be short on funds to open your next themepark or move on to the next continent because money starts piling up quite fast upon officially opening your ride. There are also special coaster parts that require the use of gems as currency. Gems are scarce, so use them wisely! Though they’re the only way you can use certain special items, they’re not required to complete most of your objectives. Did I also mention there’s a Sandbox level? It’s accessible early in the game, provided you have enough scratch to purchase it, and it’s loads of fun.
As you progress through the game, the time it takes to unlock new plots of land takes longer than the last. It only takes a couple minutes or so until you can actually use a new plot at the very start. Purchasing new continents, however, can take hours which might irk impatient players. Luckily, you’re given the option to instantly unlock levels at the cost of gems. I’ve found that purchasing new land just before going to bed works wonders if you prefer to save gems for special track features. Otherwise, you can always go back and improve old coasters as you wait for your new parks to open.
As a freemium title, Coaster Crazy never lets you feel like you’re being nickle-and-dimed as you progress through the levels. In fact, most of the temptation to actually spend money on in-app purchases in this game comes from the desire to see just how far you can take your designs and not from actually needing to in order to progress. This is great for us, but considering the quality of work put into this title, it’s nice to throw the developers a dollar or two just to support them.
Graphics & Audio
Playing Coaster Crazy on an iPad 3 is a joy. The art design of the characters and scenery is unique and very well done. From the gap-toothed Speed Freak to the money hungry Mayor, this game oozes with cuteness and very humorous animation.
Performance on later generation iDevices is also a nice treat. Everything is butter smooth on both an iPad 3 and iPhone 5. On earlier devices, your results may vary. As pretty as it is, the game isn’t without its bugs. Visiting forums discussing Coaster Crazy, few people have mentioned graphics glitches on iPhone 4S’s and older model iDevices. Luckily, the developers are very active with responses to these reports and will hopefully be fixing bugs as fast as they can.
Coaster Crazy’s music fits perfectly with the visual design of the game. Though it is repetitive at times, it never gets to a point of being annoying and provides enough grooviness to keep you engaged. I absolutely love the geniune sound effects you hear as your coaster speeds through its tracks. You hear every clank and swoosh as well as your coaster car’s unique sound effects depending on which one you choose. The audio definitely does not disappoint.
As with any high-quality 3D title for iOS, Coaster Crazy can be a bit of a drain on your battery, especially if you prefer to play on an iPhone. Keep in mind that there is a lot of power going into the physics engine of this game as well. There is only so much a developer can do to maintain great performance and visuals in a game like this. You need to sacrifice certain things to find a good balance, and I think Frontier has done that here.
Defying Gravity 101
Don’t let Coaster Crazy’s cartoony visuals fool you. Under all the cuteness is a well thought out and very polished gameplay experience. In later stages of the game, meeting everyone’s demands is no walk in the park. You can’t get too ambitious with your twists and turns because eventually, you may build up too many G-forces to make everyone on the ride throw up, and yes, you will see their puke in all its green glory.
To rack up the highest score possible, you must pay very close attention to three gauges measuring Excitement, Fear and Nausea levels. Add more speedy drops and twists to keep Excitement up, throw in scenery and special tracks to put a good amount of fear into the riders, but keep your vertical and horizontal G-forces low enough so Nausea levels are low and points build up at a much quicker pace. Everything counts when calculating your final score. The slightest adjustment in a loop’s angle can cause you to significantly raise or lower your score, so attention to detail is everything.
Now comes the fun part — testing out your track! The Crazies eagerly hop into your coaster hoping for the best. From there, you can sit back and enjoy the fruits of your labor from a variety of different perspectives, the best being the first-person camera providing the most thrilling viewing experience. If you prefer to look at your Crazies spewing vomit as they fly through your loops-o-death, you can do that, too.
There is a lot of trial-and-error involved in creating the perfect coaster, but I feel that that’s only half of the fun in Coaster Crazy. Once you feel like you’ve found a good balance, you also have the option of sharing your creation with friends and other players via Youtube or in-game leaderboards where you can also view some of the best coasters others have created. It’s quite an experience seeing just how wild and creative other players get with their creations.
Worth the Hang-Time?
Coaster Crazy isn’t perfect — yet. As of this writing, there is a Game Center bug which prevents me from syncing my progress across both my iPad and iPhone. However, I am confident that the game’s issues will be resolved in no time, considering the amount of participation the developers put into listening to our concerns.
With that said, I can confidently say that Coaster Crazy remains one of my all-time favorite games on iOS. There is enough depth, variety and pure fun in this charming freemium title to provide hours of satisfying gameplay. Frontier Developments Ltd. has nearly perfected the Themepark Creation genre for a touch interface and I’m very excited to see what they can come up with next.
If you’re looking for a new game to fiddle around with, Coaster Crazy is an absolute no-brainer and a must-have for anyone rocking an iOS device.