Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition (Nintendo Switch) Review

By Sandy Kirchner-Wilson 04.10.2020

Review for Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 released back in 2004 for PC. This title was part of a growing series of successful 'Tycoon' games by Frontier. The love for their games was almost tangible and given that the studio have now moved on to foster their own Planet series it is great to see that their older games are being converted to other platforms, especially the Nintendo Switch. Frontier Foundry are responsible for this release and without spoiling too much they have done a bang-up job!

Sometimes a game comes along and everything just feels right. There is plenty of content and options all laid out in just the right way, complemented by a nice user interface and visuals. This is the feeling that Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 exudes and has exuded since its original release on PC. The Nintendo Switch port came totally by surprise; here is the full reasonably uncompromised PC game on Nintendo Switch, the complete edition no less, including all of the expansions. Naturally some will be unaware of what Roller Coaster Tycoon is all about. The series is focussed on creating a simulation of owning and designing a theme park. This covers all facets with staff management, guest happiness and more. The series has always had a playful energy and atmosphere that just does not exist anywhere else.

This conversion is superb - fully featured with career and sandbox modes in their entirety along with supplementary tools for creating personalised peeps. Career mode asks the question "What would you do to make this park a success?".

Screenshot for Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

Each level presents a unique scenario, all of which are geared towards building expansive and successful parks. Every level has three tiers of completion which essentially act as difficulty levels. Bronze will ask for the minimum, for example a few more guests and a park worth of a certain value. Silver and Gold ask for the same but with a significant multiplier on the criteria. It is a decent challenge that can provide a lot of entertainment and can teach the ins and outs of the systems to players who need a guiding hand. It has a separate campaign for both the main expansions, Wild! and Soaked, which add their own dimensions and themes to the same structure.

In all honesty though, the real meat is in the sandbox mode. This mode takes away the barriers and says, "Go on, do your thing". It is offering a massive sprawl of land ripe for a theme park, zoo or water park. Planning and building a personal theme park is 90% of what makes this game so great to play. From the meticulous placing of paths for easy transit to decorating the surroundings with themed items and nature, it caters to everybody's imagination.

Screenshot for Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

It is just insane that something this chock-full of objects and details is available portably. There is a plethora of rides and facilities to be experimented with, not to mention the ability to design most rides from scratch, making almost entirely unique parks possible. As this version includes the expansions, players are also treated to the ability to build safari parks with almost all of the details and style of a full Zoo Tycoon game.

Control mapping was something that was causing a fair bit of background trepidation but amazingly Frontier Foundry has come up with an incredibly intuitive system using wheel style menus. The left circle is controlled by holding 'L' and using the left analogue stick. While 'L' is held, all inputs are focussed on the menu. 'A' is used to confirm and 'B' to cancel. The left menu houses all the building tools and things like park finances or staff management. Adjusting objects placed in the park is also simple. Select an object with 'Y', then hold 'R'. This is then the same as using the left menu. The only learning curve is remembering which shoulder button does which function. It is simply fantastic to control and has some parameters that can be adjusted via the game's options. This ease of control also extends to the ride building features. In fact, even though it is probably heresy, these might even be better than the mouse controls. Placing tracks, including adjusting their heights and types, is simply wonderful even with restrictive inputs versus the PC original.

Screenshot for Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

Visually there is surprisingly little compromise. Naturally some of the higher end visuals are missing, like the extreme bloom lighting of the original release. Roller coasters look fantastic and in general attractions look as they did in the original, albeit with some small reduction to polygon counts for performance reasons. Lighting and colours are great, though shadows can flicker a bit when placing objects as they are very visibly recalculated to factor in the new object. The levels of detail are also adjusted. In portable play, peeps turn into a bizarre low polygon model even when fairly far zoomed in, though at full zoom they look pretty good. It is clear again that this sacrifice is for performance and this is certainly a top performer. For this review, a huge park was built with loads of environmental objects including numerous trees and decorative objects, rides and a monorail that circles the whole area. However, the game never skipped a beat. It is probably the definitive portable Tycoon game.

While it is a shame personal music cannot be added to the game like the PC version, it is nice to see that building, coaster and peep designer tools survived the transition. In these modes it is possible to build incredible buildings or rides and then save them like a prefab ride that can be deployed in the other modes. This offers up some great creativity and allows building more themed items than the game originally supported, essentially making it possible to build almost anything without limits and to continually keep the content fresh.

Screenshot for Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition on Nintendo Switch

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 9 out of 10

Exceptional - Gold Award

Rated 9 out of 10

With a very small amount of reductions made for performance, Roller Coaster Tycoon 3: Complete Edition on the Nintendo Switch is a triumph of port work. The developers should be proud to have pulled off what seems like an almost impossible feat. To have this fully featured and much-loved title on a portable console will have revolutionised many people's spare time. A fantastic game and one that nobody should hesitate to pick up!


Frontier Foundry


Frontier Developments





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date None   Japan release date None   Australian release date None   


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