Review: Coaster Creator 3D for 3DS

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Title: Coaster Creator 3D
Price: $9.99
System(s): 3DS
Release Date: February 28, 2013
Publisher (Developer): Big John Games (Big John Games)
ESRB Rating: “Everyone”

I know why Gill McGee, Coaster Creator 3D‘s virtual mentor, is covering his face as the game begins. The man may be virtual, but even he’s ashamed to be seen in this mess of a game. He’s probably hoping if he gets through this, he could be cast as Doctor Light in the next Mega Man game. Sorry Gill, but nobody’s coming out of this simulation unscathed. I think he knows that, as when his face is finally revealed, his eyes are hollow and his smile forced.

I am not cut out to create roller coasters

coaster creator 3d 1The best way to kick off this Coaster Creator 3D review is to discuss my attempt at making roller coasters a career. I was only able to start as an apprentice to Mr. McGee and it didn’t go well. My first challenge was to make a classic, wooden coaster fun. This would be done by making sure the coaster’s track went through highlighted targets and that a cart could follow the entire track. That sounded pretty simple.

Until I was tossed into an edit screen with no explanation what to do or how. If I touched the screen, I could rearrange the existing track, but I couldn’t lay any track of my own to start a design. The bubble targets were arranged at varying heights and places around the screen, but I couldn’t increase or decrease the height of the tracks in the edit panel. When I did start to feel like I was hitting some of the bubbles, I’d find the cart didn’t have enough momentum to go through the track. Not to mention sometimes it looked like the track was a bit too close to the decorative amusements.

coaster creator 3d 2The Coaster Creator 3D tutorial was no help. It only explained what the buttons did, which is counter-productive when said buttons are grayed out and unable to be pushed. It left me floundering.

So I dragged my track around for 30 minutes. And no, that isn’t some dirty metaphor. I spent half an hour trying to arrange a track so it would pass through five bubbles, with the camera fighting me every step of the way. It wasn’t fun and at the end of it, I still failed. Worst of all, whenever I wanted to try and start over, to see if maybe I was just twisting it the wrong way, I’d remember there was no reset button. I’d have to exit, go back and start all over again.

Seeing as how I’m a 30 year old adult who’s managed to make some pretty fantastic Roller Coaster Tycoon rides, I’m confident in claiming this isn’t my fault. I’m going to go ahead and blame the camera. Coaster Creator 3D has four different camera options and none of them are conducive to coaster creation. The In-Cart Camera view is good for a first person test of the track. Look-At allows you to look at the carts’ current position from the ground, which is never helpful. The On-Track camera lets you stare at the carts head-on, which is fantastic for when you want to look at a virtual roller coaster cart with no people in it. The 3D Edit camera is the only one that’s occasionally passable, but even that fails as it only provides a look at one segment of the track tapped on the touch screen.

So, I gave up. After 45 minutes, the first mission stumped me. Since completing missions is the only means of unlocking new cart designs, tracks, locations and decorations, it means I’m relegated to a bare-minimum Sandbox experience and the hope it’s better.

Playing around in the Sandbox.

coaster creator 3dYou know what Coaster Creator 3D? You win. I can’t meet your unrealistic expectations of me in the Career mode, so I’m shuffling off to the Sandbox. Since I didn’t have a QR code to scan and ride an existing coaster, I decided to start fresh. When I begin a track there, it feels more like an actual roller coaster creator. The game allowed me to draw a potential track on the screen, inserting hills as I pleased. Then, I was able to go into an edit mode where I could tap a segment of the track, press the wand button and insert special features like loops, corkscrews or other fancy twists. I could also pull on the track, shifting its positions.

From there, I had two options. One was that I could add some decorations to make it look more like an actual amusement park or I could ride my coaster. That’s pretty much it. There are no goals. There are no amusement park simulation elements. It all leads up to just riding my roller coaster. Which came out pretty adequate, if I do say so myself.

Wait, is this supposed to be a coaster “riding” simulator?

coaster creator 3d 3Something clicked as I was putting together my custom roller coaster in Coaster Creator 3D‘s edit mode. I’m playing this game wrong. This isn’t about having fun making awesome rides. This is about riding them. Suddenly, all the horrible edit mode camera angles and frustrating lack of customization options made sense!

When I started riding my roller coaster in the edit mode, it came together. All four camera views, for the first time, actually showed things I’d want to see! The 3D effects in the first person view looked good! I could even choose which of the ten seats in the cart from which I wanted to watch. Naturally, one of the two front seats is best, since you’re only seeing the back of a seat and a virtual character’s head otherwise, but still.

Star Roller confirms my suspicions. It is a game inside the Sandbox mode that allows players to ride a custom roller coaster while pressing up, left or right to collect stars as a person rides. There’s a quota to collect each run, which is easy to achieve seeing as how there will be about five stars in one direction in a row before it switches to another side.

The downside to Coaster Creator 3D‘s Star Roller is the arrows. This mini-game involves going through a coaster three times and occasionally an arrow pops up. The first time I saw it, I pressed right on the directional pad because that’s the way the arrow was pointing. Though I pushed it when it appeared, it didn’t register and it counted as a mark against me. The next time, a left arrow appeared, I made sure I pushed in the right direction and the game still said I didn’t and counted it against me. “Fine.” I thought. “Third time’s a charm.”

But it wasn’t. I held down right when the final arrow appeared, holding it until it disappeared, but it still didn’t register. Since I missed it, the ride ended and I failed.

coaster creator 3d

Stop the cart! I want to get off!

Simply put, Coaster Creator 3D doesn’t really want me, or anyone, to have a job making roller coasters. The career mode tosses people into a building experience without any explanation or assistance and expects them to meet targets with unhelpful tutorials. “Accomplish this task… but don’t ask us how!” Even the sandbox mode, which lets players do whatever they want, is a let down. I’ve played installments in the RollerCoaster Tycoon series and know how a roller coaster creator should work. This isn’t it. Coaster Creator 3D sounds as though it would be a simulation where you create tracks, but it’s really more of a roller coaster riding simulation.

However, if you look at Coaster Creator 3D as just a game where you ride virtual roller coasters, it isn’t that bad. The 3D works very well and the first person perspective is well done. But, we can’t do that because this isn’t Coaster Rider 3D, it’s Coaster Creator 3D, and as a ride building simulator, it fails. I’d probably be more forgiving if this was a cheap iOS or Android app, but a $10 3DS download should be better than this.

Site [Coaster Creator 3D]

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  • Thomas Le

    I have a question. How can I pass challenge 1?