Roller Coaster Tycoon 2 (RCT2) represents a huge part of my childhood. It was the only game I've ever played in the morning before I went to school. The micromanagement of the theme parks I had created was incredibly compelling and always kept me coming back for more. RCT2 was a PC game and can be best described as football manager for theme parks. The game presented players with various theme parks and objectives that players had to achieve such as accumulating a certain amount of visitors or ensuring all guests had a certain satisfaction rating. Of course, achieving these goals allowed you to progress in the game and unlock new parks but this wasn't the main reason why I loved the game.
Lets get one thing clear, I'm scared of roller coasters. I like theme parks but not roller coasters. I've been to Alton Towers and Disney World but I downright refuse to ride a roller coaster, yet I am still fascinated by them. I suppose it's quite similar to the pleasure you might get from watching Saw; you enjoy it but you wouldn't want to be in that situation yourself.
For me then, part of the appeal in RCT2 was the thrill I got from designing the scariest roller coasters possible with the incredibly deep roller coaster designer, the only limit was your imagination. It was even possible to build a roller coaster so scary that visitors would refuse to ride it, even if it was free! This discovery led to me calling it 'Chicken'.
Water rides could be created aswell
This is just one example of how you could just mess about with the game mechanics if you wanted to, leading to some hilarious outcomes. One of my favourites involves how I once built a large square patch of path for guests to walk onto after they had just come off a barf inducing roller coaster with only one entrance. The square was surrounded by a few drink stalls which sold drinks for free and toilets which I had priced at $500 to use. To make matters worse for the guests the only exit (also the entrance) was 'NO ENTRY'. The result was hundreds of guests constantly entering this hellish zone of sick and people wetting themselves. Evil but hilarious. Needless to say my guest satisfaction was very poor.
I wasn't always evil though, I worked hard to complete the different scenarios which was still lots of fun. However the only downside to the game was that every scenario was unlocked from the very beginning so the sense of progression wasn't there and it was quite easy to give up on a scenario as soon as it got too hard.
It didn't improve much on the first game but just offered a lot more content and a more robust rollercoaster designer. The only way I thought it could be improved was by having the ability to explore the parks in first person as one of the guests and go on the rides. This feature was implemented in RCT3 and was a perfect example of why developers should not always listen to fans demands. The graphics were cartoony and the experience of riding the rides lacked any thrill which unfortunately transpired onto the rest of the game.
RCT2 is part of my childhood. A great game in its own right and probably all the more memorable to me as it can be classed as my first gaming addiction.