A trip to Alton Towers always puts me in the mood to revisit Rollercoaster Tycoon 3. The English Heritage site (all right, it's not, but it bloody should be) was sickeningly busy and wonderfully hot last Saturday, but it didn't smell one bit. It was a shame then, that we didn’t have enough time to complete a full circuit of the rollercoasters - I attribute this to the fact that half of the country turned up to experience the joys of the thrillingest place in England. It was magical. Really magical. Right up until to the point at which we noticed a family group, pushchair and all, lugging on a joint on their way to the entrance.
I always forget how much I enjoy RT3. I can’t remember ever completing a scenario or finishing a theme park and being satisfied by its well-rounded layout, but I enjoy it all the same. Coming back to it this time, older and wiser perhaps than last year, I’m going to put my all into it. Definitely. 100%.
Look at this path. Get a man there, clean it up. Make sure that mechanic is working the rides. Check the accounts - nice profit margin - it’s building. Jesus. What just happened? Ah, no worries - forgot I built that ride in May. That son of a bitch best make me rich.
The fine pace continues.
The cleanest park awards roll in. Yes. I get a message informing me that my park is the most scenic in the land. All right! Hell, they’ve even pushed me up to the tycoon objectives. This is going swimmingly. I spend time opening new toilets, placing bins and benches strategically, minimising the vomit-sweeping, backbreaking work for my poor underpaid employees.
Hey, Jimmy Dogger, you look sad. You want a pay rise? Go on then. His emotions are now signified by a tiny grinning smiley that melts my heart. Those who serve me well are rewarded, Jimmy, remember that.
Now, to my food and drink stands. Up the prices, pop a few extras into the mix. Do you like that, peeps? Of course you do. I’m the curator of the finest park in the land and this is my talent - to keep you happy and full.
All wonderful, really wonderful. I observe the grounds from a distance and rejoice at the carefully grouped range of rides that fulfill many of my visitors’ needs: the merry-go-round, the spinny-wheel-thing, the dodgems, the coaster in the corner...
And then I realise.
Holy fun-park! I haven’t built my own coaster! I haven't even considered it and now the yearning to build the world’s grandest, fastest people-thriller boils inside of me. Good sense be damned, I will not hold back.
So I redraw my loan, previously paid off, upping my budget to £15,000.
The first mistake comes in the testing. No biggie, but I accidentally let a very real coaster car shoot from the track like a wingless microlight. It explodes in some trees towards the east end of the park.
The second mistake comes from trying to construct a combination of loops and twists that would make the designers of the deadliest coaster in the world go weak at the knees.
My third mistake comes from my inability to reign in my imagination. My money runs out on the fifth corkscrew.
This is where reality drips through the polygonal cracks in this virtual world. In about half an hour my dreamland has transformed into a nightmare. My uber-coaster is a piece of unfinished codswallop. I have no money, but also refuse to demolish my hard work in what would be an admission of my failure.
And so she stands now as a testament to my own stupidity until I can find the cash to finish her. But somehow I don’t care about the little people anymore.
I guess I’ll give it another year.