You would think that a roller coaster game in virtual reality would be really fun wouldn’t you? Yes there’s the chance that you could get sick from it just like the real thing but there is also the possibility of having that thrilling sensation as if you were riding the real thing. Enter RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride from Atari and Nvizzio Creations which is out now on both PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR. This is a game I had high hopes for but I would come to find out that this ride ended in disaster in pretty much every area.
The game is playable either in or out of the VR headset but it’s a mess no matter which way you look at it and let me tell you why that is. First off, the cool thing about the game in theory is that you can build your own tracks and then ride them. The weird thing is that you can only ride the coaster in VR and every thing else while wearing the headset is done in cinema mode. If they thought that designing the track in VR would be too frustrating they didn’t think too much about their alternative. That is because the camera is hugely annoying while building the tracks. The game is played using the Dualshock 4 and it gives you the option of either building in third person or in first person but no matter which I tried I always ran into awkward camera angles that made it difficult to build and led to a ton of frustration on my part. Too often I was placing things, finding out the game didn’t place it right due to the bad camera, deleting said object, and then trying again. There is an autocomplete feature as well but I found out you have to pretty much be done with the entire track to use it. Why is this even a feature if you’re going to limit it to that instance?
When you are actually achieving the task of building your tracks you can build them how you like including loops and all. Unfortunately, other areas of customization are quite limited. There are only two environments you can pick from for the location of your track. One is a city and the other is a rocky canyon. There is also only one type of coaster for you to use with the option for a few different skins. When you finally get your track built you get to ride it but this isn’t really satisfying either. The speed of the coasters just seemed too slow to me. I’m not sure if this was on purpose due to framerate or comfort reasons but if you aren’t going to provide a great sense of speed then why make this at all? There is also a very odd design decision included when you are actually riding as well. You see RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride is part first-person shooter. No you didn’t misread that statement. The game places one of three toy blasters in your hand and has you shooting at floating orbs as you barrel down the track. You’ll earn points from these orbs as well as multiplier upgrades and other power ups. Getting high scores is encouraged so that you appear higher up on the online leaderboards. The whole shooting mechanic works well enough I guess but I just don’t see why it had to be here.
You can also play tracks from the community but the whole process of finding them is poorly explained and thought out. To get to them you have to finish a race and bring up the leaderboards. Here you can download and save them to the Blueprints menu. I can’t imagine why any game would have user created content and not feature a menu option somewhere to browse them. It’s just another example of the poor work that went into this. A lot of the user courses are also too basic leading to there not being much there worth playing. In terms of other content there are some tracks that the developers made included as well but I ran through them pretty quickly. A party mode is also included letting you jump in and play with friends locally but you all just take turns riding the track and trying to beat the others score. It’s quite frankly pretty boring and not worth engaging in.
The graphics in and out of VR look decent. The whole presentation looks good enough but nothing really wowed me and some things like distant objects or a few textures were a bit blurry in VR. The sound effects of the coaster moving were OK as well. I did have the game crash on me several times a few of which happened when I was starting to play my track. Entering the Blueprints menu also led to the game crashing on me a few times. There are 23 trophies in total to earn in this game including a Platinum. The list is varied and includes things like downloading a user track, riding a certain lifetime distance, collecting all of the collectibles and so on. The real question will be if you can stand playing this long enough to earn them all.
I had hopes for RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride but they sadly crashed and burned when I got to see what it had to offer. Designing the tracks can be irritating due to a wonky camera, riding the tracks isn’t that thrilling do to lack of speed, and I still wonder why there is a first-person shooter in this. Perhaps that was their only hope of making this fun to play but it doesn’t succeed at that. The lack of information provided in terms of how to do certain things like download user created tracks and the glitches and crashes just further hammer home how badly designed this whole game is. I honestly just recommend steering clear of this game at all costs.
*RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride is now available on PlayStation 4 and PlayStation VR. Reviewed on a PS4 Pro. Review copy provided by the publisher for this review. See this review and all of our VR reviews on vrgamecritic.com