Anna Gregoline | April 1, 2004
I'm so disappointed I could cry. I just found out that one of my favorite games of all time, Rollercoaster Tycoon 2, will be coming out in a 3 version. Sounds great, right? Well, they are making it in 3D.

This is right on the heels of another one of my favorite games, Zoo Tycoon, annoucing that their 2nd version will be 3D.

I am saddened. Both of these games were plenty immersive on their own, as evidenced by their wild popularity. 3D doesn't add anything for me - it makes everyone need to have a top of the line computer to run the complicated graphics, and it entirely changes the feel and look of a game. Gameplay is also drastically changed. How can they possibly compare to the original version, where everything was at once visible and complex?

Am I just crazy? Do people really clamor that much for 3D versions of things? I just don't see why game companies spend the time and money on developing this stuff when the original versions are much simplier and easier to produce, and audiences love them. 3D additions to these games is a lame gimick, in my opinion.

RUINED! RUINED! I hate it. And now there is no hope for either of the gameplay of these games to be advanced for me, except by third-party extensions, and that's only partially possible with the design of Rollercoaster Tycoon 2. Also, the last add-on packs for Rollercoaster Tycoon 2 had very uncharacteristic-looking graphics in them, and I didn't buy.

Once more. RUINED.

Melissa Erin | April 1, 2004
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Lori Lancaster | April 1, 2004
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Anna Gregoline | April 1, 2004
But the kind of cute god games I mentioned have a certain star quality to them that allows you to modify basically everything while hovering above. The graphics are top notch, really sharp, not some blocky 3D action close up, dizzying camera angles. Gameplay is also severely curtailed because they put so much effort into letting you ride a ride you built, instead of actually making things look good and letting them be more customizable.

And these are games in a KIDS category. I mean, really, as they are, kids could play them easily, but in 3D? I think it's not as fun.

Anna Gregoline | April 1, 2004
P.S. It also makes all games look exactly the same. No charm, no class.

Jackie Mason | April 1, 2004
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Scott Hardie | April 1, 2004
It depends on the game. Almost every console game series faced doubters when the company announced it was going 3D, then players realized how much better that looks and plays. Unless you can move the camera around freely, the game really isn't 3D -- "Simcity 4" may be rendered three-dimensionally, but since there are only four fixed-position camera angles, that's not the way we see it. (That game has so many glitches it is almost unplayable, so maybe that's a bad example.)

Anna Gregoline | April 1, 2004
I haven't experienced too many glitches with SimCity 4, Scott. It does run too slow on the big cities, but I'm not sure what to do about that except speed up my computer.

For a real role playing/fighting kind of game, 3D makes sense to me. But not for these cute little sandbox type creation god games. Compare screenshots if you don't believe me - now both new promised versions of the games seem like dinky kid's fare. The complexity and look-goodness of the graphics is missing.

Kris Weberg | April 5, 2004
3-D sure didn't work for a lot of the classic platformers, either -- Castlevania 64 springs to mind.

Scott Hardie | April 6, 2004
It's funny which video game innovations will work, and which ones won't. I remember the discontent over Nintendo's announcement that the Gamecube Zelda game would be cel-shaded, because I was one of the nervous fans. But it turned out looking great. On the other hand, light guns have been around since before that damn hound snickered at us in "Duck Hunt," and with the arguable exception of "House of the Dead," they still don't feel quite right.

Anna Gregoline | April 6, 2004
Duck Hunt! I always hated that you couldn't shoot that dog. Everyone always tried anyway.

Kris Weberg | April 7, 2004
Yeah, the inability to shoot the dog was a glaring omission, up there with the player's inability to kill the game-halting, badly-translated wise men in the original Legend of Zelda game.

Anna Gregoline | April 7, 2004
Does anyone remember Super Mario 2? I loved that game, but it seems like few other people did.

Scott Hardie | April 7, 2004
Didn't care for it, personally. It could be fun, but the Mario games were about manual dexterity, which I lacked. Just like you, I grew up preferring strategy games, and of course RPGs.

Why is there this worship among people our age (22-26) for the video game systems of their youth (Intellivision, Atari 2600, NES)? Nostalgia is a powerful influence, and I can understand wanting to relive the innocent good times of childhood. But I am stunned whenever a peer says that those games are actually better than the games made today. That's ludicrous. Do you listen to music on a gramophone? Do you drive a Model T? Please. I'll argue as much as anyone else that video games are a (burgeoning) form of art and the old games have merit, but technological limitations back then made games weaker, not stronger.

Anna Gregoline | April 7, 2004
But they were more fun because they weren't so complicated. That's the one thing missing from my home right now, is my Atari 2600. It's at my parent's house. I love those games because they are fun without being taxing on the brain. Most current games are dizzying to me, or are too complicated to truly enjoy.

I love the strategy game Black and White for example, but I haven't finished it because it takes too much time to play and work out.

Scott Hardie | April 7, 2004
I guess it depends on how you will use them. If you look to video games for something to pick up once in a while for a quick 15-minute session, simple gameplay is a benefit. If you look to them for something to absorb you for weeks at a time, more complicated gameplay allows for a richer experience. Games on both ends of the spectrum, and plenty in-between, need to be made.

Kris Weberg | April 8, 2004
I really dig SMB 2, actually, mostly because it seemed really imaginative and had a veriety of play -- all the characters actually played differently, and there were lots of sub-items and so on. It was more elaborate without being complicated.

Plus it had Bob-omb, the bomb with legs!

Denise Sawicki | April 8, 2004
Well my mom and I used to play the old Sierra games when I was in high school, and there was a time around '94 when the graphics and sound got a lot better at the expense of challenging, interesting gameplay. I'd rather play an interesting text-only adventure game from the 80's than most of those tedious Myst-like things. By now, though, there are plenty of games that are both interesting *and* pretty...

Anna Gregoline | June 7, 2007
I'm reviving this discussion on a slightly different note: The announcement of SimCity 5.

With this announcement, they've officially ruined all my favorite simulation games of all time.

They said it will not be a realistic urban simulation. It's going to be something else, a utopian vision instead.

I'm so sad. First they ruin Zoo Tycoon, and then the ever-more-precious Rollercoaster Tycoon (Thank god I still have RCT2), and now they ruined my hopes for a better SimCity.

I'm honestly quite bummed out. I'm not a hardcore gamer, there are few games I even want to try, and there's even fewer that hold my attention.

Sigh, oh well. There's still Sims 2 and the upcoming Spore.

Scott Hardie | June 7, 2007
Anna, for whatever consolation it's worth, I promise you: Celebrity Goo Game will always be 2D.

I confess to giving The Sims 2 another play after swearing I was done with it, and even picked up some expansion packs, but sure enough, the glitches have picked right back up again. I have a teenaged daughter who can't earn better than a D- no matter how much homework she does, neighbors who walk freely through my front door and help themselves to my food and television, and a jealous ex-lover whose garbage-can-overturning rage refuses to subside after weeks of game time. It drives me crazy. When does The Sims 3 come out?

Anna Gregoline | June 7, 2007
Sims 3 probably won't be out for years, because I've noticed the proliferation of expansion packs lately - true money-makers. I haven't even purchased Nightlife yet because I need a faster computer for Sims 2. It takes SO LONG to load that I rarely fire it up. Like it a lot though.

Ugh, I'm still so upset about SimCity 5. I thought at first they weren't going to make one, and now they are, but to not even make it a realistic city building simulation and STILL CALL IT SIMCITY?! Well, I'm really upset. Jerks. =P

Steve Dunn | June 7, 2007
Anna, would you mind expanding a bit on why you love Roller Coaster Tycoon? I was intrigued by the game when I first saw it, but I never understood how it was played. I assume it has something to do with designing and building roller coasters of ever-increasing size and complexity, and that success is determined by various economic measures. What sets it apart from other similar games?

Anna Gregoline | June 7, 2007
You are correct about the base parts of the game. What I really love about RCT2 is that it's so freaking CUTE and immersive. The little people are very expressive, you can see them take pictures of rides, eat the food they just purchased, etc. You can click on the ducks in the pond and they quack (they fly around too). Water rides make watery noises. The people scream on the rides that are scary. The Halloween house moans like zombies. If you drop a person in the water, they will drown. If a rollercoaster has an accident, it's a HUGE explosion with fire and scrapnel. The people throw up if they feel too sick from the rides. Etc. It's SO detailed. Much more detailed than that piece of crap Rollercoaster 3 - I don't understand making something 3-d if it's going to look crappier than 2-d!

They also have opinions on everything in your park which you can read and see how they like things. The economic factors are usually not too demanding and you spend most of your time designing rollercoasters and decorating your park with numerous scenery objects. There are lots of pre-loaded scenarios that range from very easy to long and challenging (I'm still working on some of them!).

They also included a type of sandbox mode, where you can build your own parks, and even make your own scenarios to challenge yourself with, which to me extends the gameplay to infinity and beyond. Also, there are TONS of third-party add-ons of rides and scenery objects you can download to enhance your parks. I have so many at this point that I cannot have all of them in one game - there are limits to how much you can use in one scenario. But it's fun to pick and choose too! The landscape editor is very easy once you get the hang of it, and there's even options for coloring the land and walls, etc.

There's a calming quiet about the game I like too. The sounds are all very muted and gentle - the music you can pick for rides is varied - lots of different styles but most of them are fun and not too repetitive. The sound work for this thing is great in my opinion - soft clicks and's kind of zen to me, ha!

GREAT game. I think it's the best game ever, actually. The expansion packs are ok - I waited until last year actually, to purchase the last ones, but at that point I was eager for more scenery objects, of which they're mostly composed of. Totally worth a pick up, it can't cost that much nowadays.

Oh, and I forgot one other thing - you can put up a balloon stand and people will buy balloons. When you win a scenario, EVERY SINGLE PERSON IN THE PARK turns towards YOU, and applaud and cheer - releasing their balloons. Then you can pop all the balloons. =) Great feeling of accomplishment.

Denise Sawicki | June 8, 2007
That sounds pretty neat, Anna. I like cute and relaxing games. I wonder if very many boys enjoy such games though :-). I'm sure some do, but the guys I know seem to prefer constant challenge and excitement in their games.

Anna Gregoline | June 8, 2007
True enough. I play games to relax, that's just my style.

Scott Hardie | June 10, 2007
Excitement yes, challenge no. When I was a teenager, I loved the Resident Evil games where you have to fight off dozens of zombies with only a few bullets, and you have to continue over and over again from death until you manage to get through each section. But now I just want fun, not aggravation or accomplishment. I recently got halfway through Resident Evil 4 and couldn't last 30 seconds before dying, and right away I'd drop the controller and say to myself, "Fuck this, I'm gonna go play The Sims." I've been playing Elder Scrolls IV: Oblivion for a year now and it's almost impossible to die on the easiest difficulty setting, thank goodness.

Amy Austin | June 12, 2007
Heheh... I agree with that mentality, too -- reminds me of that Super Mario in Hell clip you posted in your blog (that I actually watched all 20 minutes of, lmao most of the way through).

The RCT game does sound pretty cool, and I'm pretty impressed with your very thorough review of it, Anna.

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