There's something about a game featuring rollercoasters that seems to stir up a frenzy in gamers. That's certainly what I felt when I heard about Frontier Development's Coaster Crazy [Free]. Offering a bit of a fantastical twist to thrill ride creation, there's a lot to enjoy in Coaster Crazy despite some nagging freemium objections.

Before folks get excited with visions of an iOS take on RollerCoaster Tycoon, let's get one thing straight: Coaster Crazy is not a theme park simulation. Rather, Coaster Crazy focuses exclusively on the creation of rollercoasters, with a bit of freemium-based resource management thrown into the mix. The game is broken up into levels, and each level tasks you with building a roller coaster with a variety of objectives. Objectives include the mundane (such as creating a ride that is complete) to interesting (make a rollercoaster with a certain amount of upside-down time) to the complicated (make your ride offer a certain amount of vertical or horizontal g-forces).

Resource management, meanwhile, is limited to collecting piles of cash that build up over time. Once you build a ride that hits all the objectives of the level, you can open it to the public, which allows it to start earning cash. You use that cash to buy new plots of land (i.e. new levels) which allows you to build and open more coasters for cash, and so on. For the most part, cash comes relatively easy in Coaster Crazy, which is a sigh of relief. Opening rides also increases your level, which unlocks new parts to use in your creations.

Where Coaster Crazy shines is in the basic act of creating your rollercoasters. Players are afforded a decent amount of control over the created rides, including setting elevation, orientation, and length. There's also a host of different items that can aid in raising your score. Mechanics range from the standard (loops and scenery) to the strategic (boosters and decelerators) to the crazy (cart elevators). While most coasters need to have certain elements in order to hit the level goals, the game allows a lot of leeway as to how to accomplish those missions.

I'm also a big fan of the physics system, as it adds a lot of strategy to the coaster creation. Create a ride that accelerates too fast into a turn and your riders may fall out of the cart, causing you to lose points. Conversely, a slow coaster may not have enough oomph to get over hills or loops. In addition to those obvious factors, Coaster Crazy monitors more nuanced stats such as nausea, horizontal and vertical g-forces, and more, each having an impact on the final score of your coaster. In this regard, Coaster Crazy is surprisingly deep and offers a lot of gameplay, especially in later levels that feel more sandbox-ish as players are afforded more freedom in hitting the objectives.

Other areas that worked well for Coaster Crazy are its visuals – which are colorful, cartoony and have a lot of personality – and the overall presentation. The presentation is due in large part to the Crazies, which act as both your riders and objective bearers. I also thought the actual controls worked well, although iPhone players (even owners of the iPhone 5) may feel a bit cramped.

While Coaster Crazy works well in most of its facets, there are a few elements that simply feel out of place and detract from the experience. For example, a lot of the freemium elements are annoying and do little to add to the game. Purchasing new plots of land to build new coasters take time to "acquire the permits." While the first few plots take minutes to unlock, subsequent purchases start taking hours to unlock. I see no rationale for making players wait this long to build new rides other than to encourage the use of the premium currency (which can really only be bought via IAP) to unlock land purchases instantly.

Other issues, such as unskippable cutscenes with the Crazies, lengthy load times (most likely due to a reliance on the online infrastructure) and a lack of a centralized manual are more annoyances than anything else. Thankfully, the pros of Coaster Crazy outweigh the cons, making it a game worth checking out. True, it's no RollerCoaster Tycoon, but it's still a highly competent coaster builder with a nice dose of puzzle objectives. Suffice to say, if you're a fan of making thrill rides, you should give it consideration.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Bool Zero

    A spot on review of the game! I concur on every level!

  • MidianGTX

    I think the IAP in this game is incredibly fair, to the point it may harm the developers. The continent/plot unlocks are one-time affairs, so if you have to wait 48 hours, so what? You have to do it -once- in your life, it's not like the repetition of waiting for consumables to recharge every time you run out.

    I've been playing a fair amount, but what I -haven't- done is try to maximise my earnings... at all. And I have millions. I can build anything I want, and the most expensive cash IAP available takes me less than ten minutes to earn without resorting to said IAP. Gems aside (which as far as I can gather, aren't required during the missions at all), there's no incentive to spend any money as the game is gushing cash out constantly.

    • nini

      Agreed, I'm still unsure if its actually freemium or paid with some freemium elements, feels too fair like you point out to actually be free (wasn't it on some "free app for a day" promotion at first before going free full time?)

    • mikeh3775

      Actually Gems are required if you wish to play in the challenges on the moon, since they require special pieces, which require Gems to unlock. Also the Artic takes 30 gems to unlock, and Africa takes 100 Gems. Guess what, you don't earn gems easy in this game, except on moon challenges. And sorry, when I play a game, and earn enough money to purchase new area's and themes, I want to play them when I unlock them, not have to wait hours to play again. I play games when I want to play, not when the game says I can play

  • JPhilipp

    I was about to pay/ download until I heard the words "annoying freemiums".

    • MidianGTX

      So read my comment ;)

  • nickmorgs

    This game looks terrible on an iPhone 4

  • sfaber

    gems can also be earned trough daily challenges. at least play the game before review it. and i can't see anything wrong in having to wait a bit if you play a game like that (full of content, quality and polish) without spending a penny. oh, and the game is awesome.

    • Bool Zero

      To rebuttal, I think its because some people like to play games at their own discretion and pace, not at one dictated by artificial means constructed to give a game girth or promote impulse purchases. It's a sticking problem with the freemium model design, intrinsic to their success while a detriment to their design in which each game that ape the models tries to overcome. Some would prefer a game with unobstructed gameplay mechanic and artificial restrictions removed at a premium. Others just want a free game as an entry point and have a vastly different value of the worth of their dollar; willing to sond nothing or tens, even hundreds of dollars on an app top design to give them "quick fixes" to their addiction that is gaming. Therein is the problem. When one has leisure time and picks a game to play at that leisure, that person normally doesn't always want to consider playing some other game in its stead if that one game is on their mind. Besides, I think most of us here are past the age of "you only have ten minutes then turn it off"; heck, my kids don't like it when I do it to them so why should I be so accepting of it as you propose?

      I am not saying that this game is bad by any means, quite frankly it is pretty good, but truth be told, just like has been mentioned by other posts, I would never spend a dime on this game. I have a feeling most are in the same mind. I would if it were a premium title, removing the dual currency model (gems, which don't even fit the theme of the game, I mean really, they could have at least called it tickets, it just shows how shoehorned the freemium model was added here), while still earning in game cash to buy the doodads and bibbybobs. I'd buy this straight up at $5, maybe even more easy if the artificial freemium stuff was removed. Unfortunately I am a minority, and I find a new breed of gamers that would rather defend a developers interested rather than the consumers (gamers) interests. I want to support a developer by buying their game not placing my quarter on the cabinet to play next. I'd rather pay up front and be done then be panhandled the entire time I play a game.

      I chock this up to the new generation of gamers different mindset... I mean honestly, would anyone be okay with this same model if it invaded their home consoles?

      • sfaber

        I'd like too a Coaster Crazy non-freemium version. I would buy it immediately. Same with *random_console_exclusive* on pc. I guess developers must pass by tough decisions, like a lesser evil. If a product is good, and business choiches didn't reach gameplay/mechanichs, I just hold my nose and go ahead. For this game I spent € 1.89 and I played everything when I wanted, without grinding currency/time, without iApp spam or altered gameplay . If someone doesnt, he can still play it entirely. Sometimes freemium s like a plague, sometimes doesnt. I dont approve the model, but for games that deserved it and arent ruined by it, I gladly support the developer

  • bigred447uk

    I hope all this hasn't caused Frontier to take its eye off the ball and neglect the development of Elite IV !?

    Come on Braben ! Pull your finger out and give me a game I can literally live in !

  • bigred447uk

    Edit : I've just clicked the link to their website and read about the Elite Dangerous Kickstarter. Roll on Elite IV (maybe) coming at last !

    • Bool Zero

      I did not know that! Thanks for the info! Added to my upcoming personal wishlist!

  • pman555

    Is anyone else having trouble using the online features? It's telling me that my Game Center ID is being used on another device, but my iPhone is the only device I've played it on so far.

    • MidianGTX

      Pre or post the update that dropped recently? It was supposed to fix GC issues.

  • mikeh3775

    DO NOT get this game. I had to file a police report for FRAUD and also notify my bank because they REFUSED to credit my account with the gems I purchased. I gave them 2 weeks of daily app support requests wanting my gems, and they ignored me. So I had to resort to police action to get my bank to refund the money I paid for gems I never received. Its way easier earning money in this piece of shit game, then it is the Gems, and you need Gems to purchase the special track pieces in order to defeat the daily sandbox missions, but then it turns out that you need to actually use them in campaign mode first before they become eligible in the moon, which costs gems. Then they did an update, and it REQUIRES GEMS to unlock them(30 and 100), so doing the sandbox challenges, it would take MONTHS to earn enough gems to unlock the two new area's. In other words, Frontier Development needs to put a purchase price on this game and stop the nickle and diming on gems. This game is fucking bullshit and run by schysters. Incidentally Frontier, how come it took police action in order for you to finally respond to app support issues?

  • Caroline

    Can somebody tell me how to unlock the Campaign Mode? :)

Coaster Crazy Reviewed by Eric Ford on . Rating: 3.5