There are two big games being released in the theme park management simulation genre this year, RollerCoaster Tycoon World which is out now in early access (and has received mixed opinions at best, but it’s getting there) and Planet Coaster, designed by the guys who made RollerCoaster Tycoon 3 but without the influence of Atari this time around.
Planet Coaster is currently in its open alpha phase for those who have purchased the ‘early bird’ (and expensive) version of the game and while reports of limited design capabilities are hampering the experience for testers certain players have found ways to bypass these limitations. The following video is what they’ve achieved so far, and I can only imagine how good some of the theme parks in the game will look once these talented people have access to increased capabilities as development progresses.
Planet Coaster is available now in its alpha state for £50/$70 from the Frontier Store and has an expected release date of Q4 2016.
A few weeks ago I posted about Stardew Valley and how excited I was for it, and now the game has been out for a little over 36 hours as of writing. In that time I’ve put 13 hours into the game, which is an early indication for how much I’m enjoying it. Here’s my review of the early parts of the game.
Stardew Valley sees a welcome return to the farming simulator/RPG hybrid gameplay dominated by Harvest Moon over the past twenty years or more, and shares a lot of similarities with that franchise as well as forging its own path in the genre. The core story will be a familiar one to fans – your Grandfather leaves you a farm in his will, and years later you decide to take it over and transform it from a dilapidated pile of overgrowth and rubble into a thriving money making venture. Along the way you’ll meet the local Pelican Town community and attend various events and play through various randomly generated scenarios, and follow various sub-plots crucial to the over-arching story. There is absolutely loads to do in this game taking all that into account, as forming and maintaining relationships, progressing through the story and maintaining the day-to-day running of your farm allows for a varied and enjoyable experience each time you play.
*UPDATE* You can read our Stardew Valley Review here.
I’ve been a fan of Harvest Moon since it first came to the Super Nintendo console in 1998. Since then I’ve owned and played several of the sequels spanning across almost every console Nintendo has made, and put hundreds of hours into the series overall.
One of my favourites and one I probably put the most time into was Animal Parade on the Wii. Unfortunately that was the last of the Harvest Moon titles to see a release on home consoles in 2008, with everything else since being made exclusively for handhelds – and handheld gaming is something I’ve never quite been invested in, not for want of trying.
So, eight years later and with a Wii U release of a new Harvest Moon game (or Story of Seasons as it’s now known) looking increasingly unlikely, ‘ConcernedApe,’ a one man developer, has created Stardew Valley and it looks impressive.
Scheduled for release on February 26th 2016, it boasts a handful of familiar features essential to the farming simulation / RPG genre. There are a ton of customisation options for both your house and character, and an interesting leveling mechanic that pulls the game more towards an RPG style than a straight up farming simulator by way of improving five different key skills – farming, mining, combat, fishing, and foraging. Add to that a thriving local community, places to explore and creating the ultimate farm, this game is looking like the game PC and Harvest Moon fans have been waiting for.
I like to think I have a broad and varied interest in various computer game genres. There are very few I won’t play, perhaps the most obvious being fighting games as I haven’t played anything since Tekken Tag Tournament back in the Playstation 2 days. One genre I do enjoy on a casual basis is vehicle simulation (something which Alan berates me over whenever the subject is mentioned), ever since I first played a game called Aviator on the BBC Micro computer in the late 1980’s – you can see it was primitive, but I loved it. From there followed space simulators and eventually came Microsoft Train Simulator in the late 1990’s, and Flight Simulator at around the same time.
I adored them all, and in today’s market where simulators’ popularity is still enjoyed but somewhat over-saturated with crap like Street Cleaning Simulator available there are still a few gems out there, most of all perhaps is Euro Truck Simulator 2. This is a game I can’t describe to anyone who doesn’t already have at least a passing interest in the genre, but for me it’s a relaxing way to unwind and just get lost behind the wheel of a truck, selling goods and making money for my fledgling haulage company. I can picture a few people reading this with one eyebrow raised but that’s how it is for a lot of people who play these games, and as someone who doesn’t drive in the real world it’s as close as I’m going to get to doing that too.
Speaking of driving, that’s another genre I’ve always enjoyed to an extent, particularly arcade racers like GRID, the Burnout series and the Need For Speed franchise. I’ve never truly appreciated the simulation racers like Gran Turismo, Forza and Project Cars, and until this week I couldn’t quite work out why. Aside from being utterly useless at them.
I can’t quite remember why, but a few weeks back I developed a burning desire to own a steering wheel for the PC. I think it was while reading a review for Project Cars, as it looked like a game I’d enjoy – great graphics, a progressive career mode… Oh but wait, it’s a simulation racer, I’m terrible at those, never mind. I couldn’t shake the thought that I’d probably otherwise enjoy the game as you can tinker with the cars themselves and race in true-to-life events at real circuits, but I’d spend more time bouncing off safety barriers and rear-ending my opponents than screaming down back straights at 200mph in something vaguely considered to be a straight line. I decided to read up on some player opinions rather than those of professional reviewers, and one verdict was pretty much unanimous – to get the most out of Project Cars it’s damn near essential to own a steering wheel.