Recently I bought a modern four drawer dresser from Target. After pushing it up the stairs of the house I live in, something that was already a hellish task, I had to assemble it. I was told it would take three hours. It took me about two days, and I’m still pretty sure parts of it are crooked and poorly constructed. It was a terrible, soul-sucking experience that I’d only wish on a few select people. However, every part of buying, moving, and assembling this dresser was a more pleasant experience than RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride will ever be.
It’s difficult to even know where to begin in a game that seems so laser-focused on being as bad as this one. If you’ve ever played a RollerCoaster Tycoon game, you might expect another park manager. You’re looking at the wrong game. Instead, Joyride focuses on two things: building roller coasters and being an on-rails shooter. Yes, you read that second part right. Someone looked at RollerCoaster Tycoon and said: “there’s the groundwork for a shooter in here”. Lord knows why.
I assume most players will start with the mission mode. Here, your goal is to build a coaster and ride it while shooting targets. Each level has a set of three building goals, but you can complete any one of them to proceed. You aren’t limited by coaster design, money, or any sort of challenge. Because of this, there’s no actual work needed to be put into the game. You can often hit all three goals by smashing a button and pointing your track in random directions. Occasionally you may be asked to thread the coaster through hoops, but it’s still a painfully easy experience not worth doing.
No matter what I did my end result looked and felt nothing like an actual roller coaster. It felt like a bunch of tracks that floated in the air with a magic cart that moved forward on it. Physics were defied constantly, loops required no special planning to make sure my carts could go over them, and I could build tracks that went 400 meters straight into the air before plummeting them into the ground. There’s no consequences for any of this. You simply build your track however you want and it always works.
This sounds a lot better than it really is. There are only two maps to build on, and neither of them are interesting enough to be worth it. Furthermore, your tools don’t really make for compelling coasters. You can’t really do much other than plot tracks in simple lines, ramps and turns. You have a few specialty tracks you can choose to use that let you make loops or corkscrews, but it’s not very much. While you do this, the game’s camera will actively battle you. I’ve seen games invert up and down before, but never in my life have I seen a game invert right and left by default. Once you lose the track, it’s nearly impossible to figure out where it’s going again.
Weirder still, you do this all accompanied by no soundtrack at all. The only sound effect plays when placing a piece of track. Otherwise, Joyride is dead silent. Somehow, in a year where I played a video game muted on purpose, Joyride is quieter. I almost want to say this is a glitch, but as far as I can tell this appears to be a design decision. When you ride the rollercoasters later on, there continues to be barely any noise outside of some quiet stock screaming. You know, the same screams from the original RollerCoaster Tycoon in 1999, only nearly impossible to hear.
After boring yourself to tears building coasters, you can hit the “autocomplete” button to have the work done for you and ride your coaster. At this point, the game displays a system error asking you to plug in the VR headset. You can play without the VR headset, but every single time you go to ride a coaster the game will still insist that you have to plug it in. There is no way to remove this menu or to get it to stop showing up. If you choose to play in VR, just know that a good chunk of the coasters are made with no consideration for VR comfort in mind and there’s a chance you’ll end up sick.
While you ride your roller coaster, you get a gun you can aim using motion controls. There are a few different targets for you to shoot, each exploding in one to three hits. There are also a few different power-ups that do very little, such as one that increases the range of your gun. There’s no threat to you as a player, nor is there any challenge. So long as you finish all the goals in the building section, you can set the controller down and score nothing on the shooting section and still get all three stars. I did this several times. In the game’s final levels, I scored zero points and became the third highest score on the leaderboards.
Even if you choose to shoot targets, it’s really not much fun. There are only three types of targets, and all of them are just orbs that float in patterns around the tracks. I tried my hardest to maintain interest in this mode, but all I could manage to do to not fall asleep was turn the virtual gun on myself. Worse, it’s really easy to find yourself on a track where your coaster moves forward at a snail’s pace. This is baffling, as looking behind you reveals that some sort of jet engine powers your cart. My only suggestion (besides avoiding this game entirely) is to make tracks composed of nothing but boosters. It’s the only way to complete these segments at a decent pace.
It took me about an hour to finish all ten of Joyride‘s missions, all with three stars on my first try. After this, I had to poke around Joyride to see what else was on offer. There’s a sandbox mode where you can build a coaster with no restrictions at all. Considering you can already do this in the missions, I fail to see the point. There are also 13 pre-built coasters you can ride, filed away as either “Easyriders” or “Headspinners”. You can also file all these coasters away as “boring”. Finally, there’s a button labeled “Blueprints” that crashed the game whenever I pressed it. So, I have no clue what that’s supposed to do.
On the multiplayer side, there’s Party Mode. In theory, you each ride the coaster once, passing the controller around to try to beat each other’s high scores. In practice, it barely works. Each time a single player goes, Joyride considers this a full round. If you have two players and set it to one round, then only the first player gets to go while the second player never gets a chance. Arguably, this means that player two actually gets the better deal. Similar to this situation, if you have three players and set it to four rounds, then player 1 gets a second chance to beat everyone else’s score that the other players don’t get. It’s baffling how something so basic doesn’t work right.
Back in 2016, we gave RollerCoaster Tycoon World a 1/10. I genuinely thought it would be impossible for this franchise to ever be that bad again. Today I learned that, no, it’s quite possible. RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride is one of the most joyless, soul-sucking, spirit-crushing video games I’ve ever played in my life. The only joy I got from this supposed joyride is deleting it from my PlayStation forever.
TechRaptor reviewed RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride on PlayStation VR with a copy provided by the publisher.
At several times while playing RollerCoaster Tycoon Joyride, I became convinced I died and this was my personal hell. In a world where we thought the worst RollerCoaster Tycoon game had already shipped, Joyride shows up to claim that spot.
- Joyride by The Killers is a Fantastic Song (Not Featured in This Game)
- Everything is Boring
- Missions Provide No Challenge
- Track Building is Awkward
- On-Rails Shooting is Painfully Slow
- No Soundtrack, No Sound Effects
- Party Mode Doesn't Work