Chris Sawyer's RollerCoaster Tycoon phenomenon is stuck at the top of the Ferris wheel. RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 was a disappointing repeat of the first game, last spring's Wacky Worlds expansion was lambasted by critics and fans for offering just a few new themes and scenarios, and the latest add-on is equally uninspired. Time Twister is modeled on the same formula as its predecessor and is just as disappointing.
Crashed flying saucers and animatronic aliens are hallmarks of the new Future theme.
Although the Time Twister title refers to the expansion pack's historical themes, it could just as easily be referring to last May. Gamers who played Wacky Worlds back then might feel like they've entered a time warp here, because the gameplay and few meager additions mirror those highlighted six months ago. In many ways, they're even more of a letdown now, because one had to hope that publisher Atari had learned its lesson from the criticisms that the prior release took in the spring.
What Frontier Developments has created here is best suited for scenario modders seeking new scenery for their home-brewed works. The heart of Time Twister is six new themes that represent different historical eras, so if nothing else, there is a lot of new stuff to look at. Prehistoric lets you play with giant cavemen and woolly-mammoth-tusk fences. Dark Age boasts new stone walls, which look a lot like the old stone walls, and decorations such as animatronic knights in full armor. Mythological has Roman temples and cheesy animatronic skeleton armies straight out of a Harryhausen movie. Roaring Twenties comes with a big menu of urban wall tiles, like red brick, along with animatronic gangsters and statues of period automobiles. Future features crashed flying saucer displays and alien buildings. And Rock 'n' Roll is sort of a catchall representing the '50s and '60s, including such things as B-movie giant spiders and animatronic go-go dancers.
Most of the new scenery looks pretty good. There are some nice touches here that make the themes fairly distinct. Future does an especially good job of giving RollerCoaster Tycoon 2 a face-lift, due to its lit-up walkways, take-me-to-your-leader alien statues, giant robots that sit atop the park entrance and exit, and Blade Runner-style video signage. Still, most of the themes rely heavily on old ideas (how many wall tilesets does one game need?) and are far too dependent on animatronic statues to produce their new looks. It's nice that you can put a distinct touch on a Roaring Twenties park with gangster and cop statues, but it often seems like statue type is all that separates the scenarios from one another. Gangsters, Medusas, aliens, rock guitarists--they all seem to blend together after you've played through a few scenarios.