RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 (abbreviated as RCT3) is the third installment of the RollerCoaster Tycoon series. The gameplay is based on managing amusement parks and building roller coasters. The player must build rides, paths, food stalls, and scenery to attract guests to their park and fulfill a set of objectives.
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, first released on October 26, 2004, is the first game in the series to use 3-dimensional graphics, as opposed to the 2-dimensional isometric view of the first two games. Players can now view their park at any angle, which helps players build in crowded areas. Players can also "Ride the Rides" (main sales argument), which allows the player to simulate riding most of the attractions in the park from a first-person perspective. Some players disliked the quality of the new graphics.
On August 12, 2015, an iOS version of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 was released, compatible with all 64-bit iOS devices, including iPhone 5s, iPad Air, iPad mini 2, and iPod touch 6th generation. However, it only included the game base and the expansion packs were not included.
RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Platinum! was added to the Steam and GoG but was delisted on May 7, 2018 due to a lawsuit between Atari and Frontier with Frontier not receiving royalty payment from Atari for the digital sales of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 Platinum! After Frontier owned the rights to RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, they re-released the game as RollerCoaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition on September 24, 2020 for Window, macOS, and Nintendo Switch.
The player manages construction and maintenance of their theme park. The main game play aspect is building rides, scenery, shops, and paths to entertain guests. The player must also hire staff to maintain rides and the park grounds to make the park more appealing to guests.
Players can choose between three game modes to build parks: Career mode, a pre-designed objective-based set of scenarios; Sandbox mode, a non-restrictive building mode; and editors, which allow for the customization of specific game play elements.
In career mode, the player builds their theme park in a pre-designed park, and must meet a set of objectives. These objectives include number of visitors, park rating (popularity and satisfaction), roller coaster specifications, and successful VIP visits. Each scenario has 3 sets of objectives: Apprentice, Entrepreneur, and Tycoon. The higher the level of completion, the more scenarios are available.
Sandbox mode is a free-form building mode, which allows players to build nearly anything. There is unlimited money, no objectives, and a large 128 x 128 plot to build on.
In sandbox mode, all rides, scenery, and other attractions are unlocked from the beginning, which allows players to create parks of any design and any theme.
Many think Sandbox mode is also more fun than Career mode because it's not about the money. Instead, it's about ride popularity and also gives you more freedom to mess around and set your own goals. Also, in Career mode you start off with a few rides whereas in Sandbox you start with nothing so the park can be completely your own.
The editors allow players to design rides, guests (peeps), and scenarios that can be used in other modes.
Coaster Editor - The player can design rollercoasters in an unrestricted environment, without any obstacles. The player can save ride designs if they choose.
Building Editor - The player can create buildings, MixMaster displays, and scenery layouts without obstacles or monetary limitations. The player can save layouts if they choose.
Peep Editor - The player can create custom families of guests (peeps), specify the exact clothing, name, preferred ride intensity and age of the guests. These guests will appear in all parks after they are saved.
Scenario Editor - The player can create their own scenarios similar to the ones in career mode as well as set their own objectives. This feature can also be used to remake scenarios from previous games.
There are two distinct types of rides that can be constructed: tracked rides, and non-tracked rides. Players can build both, but tracked rides can be custom designed, while non-tracked rides are prefabricated and are simply placed on the desired location.
When building a tracked ride, players can design the path of the ride with the built-in ride editor. The most common components are:
Curved sections (of various turning radii)
Sloped sections (of various angles)
Roller coasters have more flexibility and include more advanced components, including:
Curved and sloped sections
The sections can be built by double-clicking on the orientation of the desired track section.
The game has been criticized by some for not allowing for even more precise control over the track, while others criticized it for being too complex.
The camera can be fixed to almost all rides, so the player can simulate riding roller coasters, gentle rides, thrill rides, water rides, and many other rides. This feature was one of the major selling points of the game.
An example of a terraformed space in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3.
The land editing in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 is substantially improved from the two previous games. Instead of tiles that are edited by the corners and are limited to a single angle, the tiles can be positioned at any angle, which allows for more realistic landforms, such as mountains, craters, mesas, valleys, and canyons.
In addition to the flexibility of the land tiles, there are numerous tools that make landform creation and ride creation easier. Tools can raise and lower land in a large radius, with different styles. There are also smoothening tools to remove irregularities, and "snap-to" tools that position tiles at the level of ride height increments.
Land can also be textured, with different types of grasses, rocks, sand, and ice. The sub-surface textures can also be changed to differing types of rock.
Water is no longer raised or lowered tile by tile, each body of water is uniformly raised and lowered. In the Soaked! expansion pack, waterfalls that connect two bodies of water at different altitudes are possible.
Games can now be played with day and night settings. The level of brightness changes over time, from complete darkness, to partial light, and then bright light. Rides and stalls have lights illuminating the structures, but paths must be lit by placing lampposts.
While building rides or placing scenery at night, the ambient light is increased to make construction easier.
Fireworks being launched from a mountain in RollerCoaster Tycoon 3.
Custom-designed fireworks can be built in-game using the Fireworks Editor. The game comes with about fifty types of fireworks, each with distinct formations. The user places the various fireworks in a timeline. The fireworks go off in the sequence the user creates when started.
The fireworks can be scheduled to play at a certain time every day. Guests will stop walking on the path and watch while the performance is playing.