A (probably incomplete) History of Roller Coasters & Theme Parks in Videogames, Part 1: 1983-2001

2001: Theme Park Inc.

Just like the other two Theme Park games before it, Theme Park Inc. was developed by Bullfrog and published by Electronic Arts. While it isn’t the last game created by the Bullfrog team, it is the last game that was released with the Bullfrog Logo. Later ports and re-releases of the original Theme Park aside, it is also the last game in the Theme Park franchise. It was released as SimCoaster in the US and Theme Park Manager in Germany and it is the only game in the Series that was only released on PC.

While the general artstyle is similar to Theme Park Manager, the gameplay itself focuses more on the Management side of things and is more in depth. Staff can go on strike when their need for rest is ignored and the impact of guests being unhappy is more serious than before. In order to progress objectives like training staff to a certain level or beating Golden Ticket challenges. These challenges include things like keeping guest happiness high or making at least a specified profit, failing too many of these challenges results in the player being fired and a Game Over. Additionally Awards for things like the highest Roller Coaster or longest Log Flume are obtainable. Theme Park Inc. has a dedicated Ride Designer that can be used to create custom Layouts for Roller Coasters and Log Flumes that can then be used during Gameplay.

Similar to the other Theme Park games, Theme Park Inc. also received mostly positive reviews and sold reasonably well. Despite this no further games in the Theme Park Franchise where produced.

2001: Ultimate Ride

After Coaster in 1993, Ultimate Ride is the 2nd Game published by Disney that is mainly a Coaster Builder. It was developed by Gigawatt Studios and only released for the PC. It launched with a Website that allowed players to upload their own Coasters and rate other peoples creations. Each weeks to rated Coasters where given a special title. The Website shut down in 2003.

Ultimate Ride has two modes to play, a Coaster Builder and Imagineer Mode. The later acts both as a Tutorial and gives the player scenarios with goals to reach. During the Tutorial portion basic Roller Coaster physics are taught. The Build Coaster Mode let’s the player freely choose the type of Coaster and Landscape they want to use. Landscapes range from more realistic settings like an Island to unrealistic things like an Asteroid. Steel Sitdown, Inverted- and Wooden Coasters are supported by the game. Building a Coaster is similar to RollerCoaster Tycoon as in that it works in a piece-by-piece fashion, but it allows for more freedom when it comes to steepness and banking of the track.

A expanded version called Ultimate Ride Coaster Deluxe was released in 2002, it added more Levels for the Imagineer Mode, new Landscapes and more Coaster Models like Flying Coaster. Also in 2002 a version of the game called Disney Coaster was released, this version featured content themed around the real life Disney Parks like Frontierland as a usable Landscape and the Mine Train Coaster as a Model to use for own creations.

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