People love amusement parks. There’s always a little something for everyone, and a great park manager knows how to build the perfect mix to draw in the crowds. Frontier Developments, the studio behind RollerCoaster Tycoon and Thrillville games, brings console gamers another top notch park simulation experience with Planet Coaster: Console Edition. Available on PS4 (free PS5 upgrade) and PS5, I’ve spent the last week brushing up on my theme park building skills to help you determine if this is one to add to your game library.
Planet Coaster Console Edition Review – Creating Thrillville
For me, RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 was the epitome of theme park sim games. I’ve spent hours building my way through scenarios and attempting to build custom coasters. Planet Coaster: Console Edition fired up my nostalgia receptors. Immediately I felt at home here. While the UI is sleeker, everything was familiar and welcoming. Just like slipping into your favorite PJs.
I dove headfirst into Career Mode. This is where you’ll learn the basics of the game and rank up as you tackle increasingly difficult challenges at struggling parks. The tutorial has two challenges; basic park challenges make up the first three stars, followed by a visit to the testing area for another three. As your career rank grows, so do the amount of challenges per scenario. Our mentor and his aides offer tips as well as advice and feedback for growing those attendance numbers. Things to keep in mind when tackling Career Mode include the layouts and restrictions certain parks may have. Unique landscaping with locked terrain can make certain areas hard to build on, whereas another park could require a certain minimums for scenery.
Challenge Mode amps things up a notch or two. Oswald and company provide a variety of landscapes for you to turn into epic theme parks. All you have to do is select one and choose a difficulty. Cash, guess happiness, and ride wear and tear are the big factors at play. I chose to run my first Challenge park at normal. It gave me a nice enough chunk of change to start building without resorting to a loan right away. As I brought in more visitors and researched new buildings, Oswald presented new challenges. Completing them added money to my bank and pushed me further along. They were nicely paced. I never felt overwhelmed, at most had three goals at a given time. Sometimes there were decent breaks between them which allowed me time to hop on a ride or zoom in to see what my patrons are thinking.
Planet Coaster Console Edition Review – How to Be a Roller Coaster Tycoon
Researching new and exciting additions has always been my go-to business expense. Sure, you’ll want to advertise at some point, but without a solid variety of attractions guests will get bored quickly. My favorite thing to research ASAP is the information kiosk. Why? Because this opens up the Priority Pass! For a one time cost, guests can purchase the pass which lets them jump the line on their favorite rides. For a ride to take advantage of this pass, you just have to enable it on the rides you’d like to use it on and edit the queue to include a shortcut. While shops and rides are great, Planet Coaster has hotels. This is a game changer. I can pretty much build a knock off Disney park and live vicariously through my guests.
Happy guests require happy staff. Planet Coaster has a few ways to ensure your hired help are the best they can be. From the staff management menu, you can check in on your employees to see how they are performing. You can give them raises, send them for training, and hire and fire. Work rosters are a great way to keep people from feeling over or underworked. By fine tuning sectors or even selecting specific stalls (for your vendors), you can keep morale high. I’ve found that training and raises are great but maintaining a strong ratio of staff buildings to employees has been a godsend. Staff buildings can be customized to allow up to ten employees a place to rest. You are also able to slot one perk to a building. Perks like healthcare, entertainment, and specialty training are great ways to incentivize your staff.
Paying careful attention to the accessories placed around your rides and walkways is one of the best ways to increase your park’s appeal. Select your ride and check the scenery score. Higher scores will draw more riders. Theming is so essential. Where would Universal or Disney be without theming? Same holds true in Planet Coaster. I like creating “lands” in my parks. The first section I created in Challenge Mode is holiday themed, with all the buildings covered in a gingerbread shell. Mostly family friendly rides with one or two thrill rides. Next door is my science fiction sector. I leaned more heavily on thrill and extreme rides in this land. As I continue to grow this particular park I’ll squeeze in Western and fairytale influences and other themes as I research them. Gotta keep those guests happy and spending money.
Planet Coaster Console Edition Review – Coasting to Success for Dummies
Budding architects will find themselves spending a lot of time creating custom coasters. While I love messing around with the tools, I am just not the best at making coasters. More often than not I forget to change the track type to chain lift on inclines and then can’t figure out how to delete just those two or three pieces. I’m a scrap it and start all over kind of person. Perhaps one day I’ll master the craft. Until then I will continue practicing and stick to using pre-made models or downloading some of the wonderful creations the Planet Coaster community is sharing in the Frontier Workshop.
The Frontier Workshop is essential for PS4 to PS5 players. You won’t be able to use your previous saves if you upgrade to PlayStation 5, but you can upload your blueprints here and then download them to your new console.
I don’t have many gripes with this game. The only thing that truly irks me is the camera control, especially when maneuvering through tunnel pathways. More often than not the items I am trying to place in these tight spaces such as benches, trash cans, and security cameras end up colliding with the environment. Other times the camera zooms in way too close making it impossible to see what I am doing.
Planet Coaster is a solid theme park sim, and one I can see myself spending an unhealthy amount of time playing. I just need to remember not to be too hasty in loading games the second I get to the PS5 dashboard. Twice now I’ve immediately tried to boot it up within a minute of the PlayStation 5 getting to the home screen and crashed it so hard the console databases need rebuilding. Goes to show just how much I like theme parks, right?
Planet Coaster Console Edition review code provided by publisher. Version 1.004 reviewed on PlayStation 5. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.