Timeline of RollerCoaster Tycoon

Including games that are related to the franchise

Update 04/15/2017: Added notes for RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic and composers for Planet Coaster.

Chris Sawyer, the original creator of the series

Before there was RollerCoaster Tycoon, there was Coaster, which it was developed by the now-defunct Code To Go and Disney Interactive Studios, then known as Walt Disney Computer Software, Inc. and Theme Park, which it was developed by the now-defunct Bullfrog Productions.


RollerCoaster Tycoon (1999–2001; Original Xbox: 2003)

Publisher(s): MicroProse (possibly defunct), Hasbro Interactive (now defunct), Infogrames Interactive (Original Xbox, defunct) • Developer(s): Chris Sawyer Productions, Frontier Developments (Xbox) • Composer(s): Allister Brimble

The first game in the series

This is the first game in the series, as you must complete one of these in order to go to a new scenario. This is also the first game I played when I was nine or ten years old.

Two expansion packs were released: Corkscrew Follies (or Added Attractions in Europe) and Loopy Landscapes. The second expansion pack included three parks from Europe: Alton Towers, Heide-Park (English: Heath Park), and Blackpool Pleasure Beach. On the reverse side of the box, that is Chris Sawyer riding a real roller coaster (quench!)

The Original Xbox version was released in 2003 with two expansion packs and some of the features removed (e.g.: Options that you can turn on or off “real” names of guests, change your units, etc.). The music for this game is composed by Allister Brimble.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 (2002–2003)

Publisher(s): Infogrames Interactive → Atari (Time Twister expansion pack) • Developer(s): Chris Sawyer Productions, Frontier Developments (expansion packs) • Composer(s): Allister Brimble

The second game in the series

This is the second game in the series, giving you the ability to design your own scenarios, holding the SHIFT key to elevate scenery, and build your coasters with the “Roller Coaster Designer”.

Many of the rides from the first game have been modified and/or renamed, one example being “Scrambled Eggs” to “Twist”. This game also has five Six Flags parks (two of which are now known today as Walibi World and Walibi Belgium) and rides from various Six Flags parks.

Today, Six Flags Great Adventure has changed, such the Great American Scream Machine was closed and demolished in mid 2010 (the one with the same ride name at Over Georgia is still open), the Rolling Thunder racing wooden roller coaster was also closed and demolished in mid-to-late 2013, and Medusa was repainted and re-themed at the end of 2008 and is now known as Bizarro since 2009. In Six Flags Magic Mountain, three roller coasters in the park have been demolished or relocated are Psyclone, Flashback, and Déjà Vu. Colossus was redesigned and changed its name to Twisted Colossus in 2015. This game also has ATMs (known as “Cash Machines” in the North American version), so your guests won’t think “I can’t afford (ride name)”, when they are about to run out of cash.

Today, there is a fan-made project called OpenRCT2, which still requires the original game files as it is in early beta stage. There’s also RollerCoaster Tycoon Classic, which combines the features of the first game and this game.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 (2004–2006; iOS: 2015)

Publisher(s): Atari (PC), Aspyr Media (Macintosh), (same developer who developed the game for the iOS) • Developer(s): Frontier Developments • Composer(s): Alistair Lindsay

The third game in the series

The third game in the series, and the first game to be played on a Mac, as well as the first game not to be designed nor programmed by Chris Sawyer, as he acted as a consultant during the development of RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. It is also the first game that uses full 3D graphics instead of the isometric viewpoint in the previous games.

This game has a sandbox mode, a career mode that is similar to the previous two games, a peep designer that lets you create your own “peeps”, and other new features, including the CoasterCam which lets you “ride” roller coasters and other rides.

The peeps cannot be killed in the third game, unlike the first two games when your coaster crashes in your park or you drown your guests. This game also includes “VIPeeps”, which they appear in certain scenarios as the peeps are redesigned as they vary in gender and age, including children, teenagers and adults. There’s also the MixMaster Display, where you can create fireworks (and, in the case of the Soaked! expansion pack, laser light shows and water jets).

Two expansion packs were included: Soaked!, which lets you build water parks, swimming pools, and water slides, and underwater aquariums, while adding more rides and scenery to the original game such as the ability to create waterfalls; and Wild!, which you can build zoos and safari rides, similar to that of Zoo Tycoon in an amusement park setting.

The iOS version of this game is a pay-to-play game with no in-app purchases.

Thrillville and Thrillville: Off the Rails (2006 for the PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and the Original Xbox; 2007 for the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo DS, PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and Xbox 360)

Publisher(s): LucasArts (closed by Disney in early 2013) • Developer(s): Frontier Developments, DC Studios Inc. (Nintendo DS only, defunct) • Composer(s): Alistair Lindsay, Michael Z. Land, et al.

The Nintendo Wii version of the second game, as shown in the article.

This game puts in the player’s shoes of a park manager: you can design your own character as a teenager (high schooler) or a child (elementary schooler), and you manage the park.

These games’ plot is to keep your customers happy so they don’t end up in Globo-Joy and stop Vernon Garrison, a multi-million dollar businessman and Uncle Mortimer’s eternal rival. The first game uses songs performed by KT Tunstall and Ryan Shupe and the RubberBand, as well as other bands/musicians. The second game does the same thing as the first game, which includes Miley Cyrus (Hannah Montana, anyone?).

The first and second games reuses the music from The Curse of Monkey Island. The game’s composer is the same as the previous computer game RollerCoaster Tycoon 3. The game uses a few of its elements from the Star Wars media franchise when interacting with your park guests in the game (for example, “May the force be with you”).

Fast forward five years later after the release of the sequel, LucasArts was shut down by Disney as Disney now owns almost everything that LucasArts made.

RollerCoaster Tycoon 3D (2012)

Publisher(s): Atari • Developer(s): n-Space (defunct) • Distributor (Australia): Bandai Namco Entertainment

This game is a flop.

The game went into a flop: it received mostly negative reviews, citing the game that does not hold up to its predecessors due to unappealing graphics, lack of mechanics from previous games, a poorly designed interface, and a dull gameplay experience. It flopped because it does not have the features from the previous game such as adjustable terrain, fireworks, and water rides. It also has a “track limit” feature.

This is the first portable game in the franchise and a spin-off to the RollerCoaster Tycoon series. n-Space closed its doors last year (Erick S. Dyke, the founder of n-Space, died in late 2008).

RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile (2014 — iOS, Android, and Kindle)

Publisher(s): Atari • Developer(s): On5, UAB

Chris Sawyer, the original creator of the series, had no involvement in the development of this game.

This game looks more like crap than the previous series: full of micro-transactions (despite the fact the game is now free-to-play), excessive wait timers and features removed from the previous games. Eurogamer’s Chris Schilling also criticized the game’s music, citing it “irredeemably bad”, giving the game a score 1 out of 10.

The game is rather unplayable as you can “shell out” real money into this game to build your roller coasters faster and expand your park’s land. There’s also no ability to adjust the land or create lakes, rivers, or islands in this game. Whatever you do, don’t pour your money into the game.

RollerCoaster Tycoon World (2016)

Publisher(s): Atari/RCTO Productions • Developer(s): Nvizzio Creations

This is the latest in the series, and the first computer game not to have any expansion packs like the previous installments. Since physical copies of computer software have been phased out, you will have to buy games digitally on GOG.com, Steam, and/or EA Origin.

The game was released as “Early Access”, it soon became fully released. Similar to the third game, it uses fully polished 3D graphics rather than the polygonal, Virtua Fighter 2-esque graphics in the third game as well as 2D isometric style in the first two installments in the series. This is also the first game to allow you to build freeform coasters and curved footpaths as it does not include any micro-transactions as this game uses the spline system instead of the traditional style of laying individual pieces.

Planet Coaster (2016/2017)

Developer(s)/Publisher(s): Frontier Developments • Composer(s): Jim Guthrie and JJ Ipsen

This game is the spiritual successor to RollerCoaster Tycoon 3, a game which Frontier had previously worked.

In this game, Guests in the park speak “Planco”, a fictional language that is similar to Simlish in The Sims series and its spin-offs. This game lets you create your own character avatar, similar to Thrillville and its sequel, Off the Rails — two games which Frontier also had previously worked.

The updates to the game lets you crash coasters and “peep bowling” on the guests like RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 and other features.

RollerCoaster Tycoon Touch (2017, iOS and Android)

Publisher(s): Atari/RCTO Productions • Developer(s): Nvizzio Creations

Android version, as shown in the article.

There’s not much information about the iOS/Android game. Like RollerCoaster Tycoon 4 Mobile, it contains in-app purchases, wait times, and has no ability to adjust landscape or water level, but expands upon the social integration.

The video game and entertainment journalists such as Game Informer, IGN, GameSpot and Eurogamer are yet to get reviews from the newly-released spin-off to the series.


And that finishes the timeline of RollerCoaster Tycoon. I’m Samurai Cory, follow me on Twitter and I have an art blog. Don’t forget to support me on Patreon and I’ll see you next time.

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