Tycoon games have rarely translated well to console. This is why when looking at any given
tycoon franchise, the lowest scored titles always seem to be on console. Frontier Developments is attempting to buck this trend with Planet Coaster Console Edition on PlayStation 5, Xbox Series X|S, PS4 and Xbox One.
In the console world that has generally disregarded tycoon experiences, Frontier Developments has easily created an experience that will turn even the harshest critics into believers. Between the customization options and the dozens upon dozens of hours of fun to be had, Planet Coaster Console Edition does most things right.
Planet Coaster Console Edition Details
Platform(s): PlayStation 5, PlayStation 4, Xbox One and Xbox Series X|S
Reviewed on: PlayStation 5
Developer(s): Frontier Developments
Publisher: Frontier Developments
Genre: Construction and management simulation
ESRB Rating: E10+ (Everyone 10+)
The Ultimate Coaster Park Experience
Most tycoon games have some type of story you play through, and in general, theme park titles always follow the same path. Planet Coaster Console Edition is no different. As a young budding businessman, you need to grab a struggling theme park empire and pull them back from the brink of bankruptcy. You will be traveling across the country and resurrecting old parks, dusting off the broken bits and restoring them into bustling entertainment destinations.
Through a well crafted tutorial, players will spend a few hours learning the basics of Planet Coaster, including building shops and facilities, constructing rides and coasters, and making sure staff and guests are happy, healthy, and ready to spend some money!
Once that tutorial is complete, players are let loose on other struggling parks, with the ultimate goal of creating bigger and better parks, while navigating various location and business problems.
Newly optimized controls
Planet Coaster is a complex and insanely deep game, even when played with a mouse and
keyboard on PC. Transitioning that experience to a controller is not only difficult, some might say it is even nearly impossible. Yet, for someone who has played the PC version, I would say that Frontier Developments did an excellent job of using each and every button on the controller to give you easy access to almost everything. Even with the limitations, it is done really well.
Tycoon titles have always been menu heavy, and theme park games are no different. There are rides to choose and construct, paths to build and modify, stalls to create, and trees and scenery to put down. And that just covers the building aspect. Then you must contend with ride information panels, guest and staff satisfaction menus, financial charts and graphs, and the list goes on. It is a lot. With a mouse, it is really simple. Just click. On a controller, it’s a tad more work, and you will never work as fast playing Planet Coaster with a controller as you will playing on PC with keyboard and mouse.
There is a silver lining here, which the development team likely acknowledged early on and
implemented. Frontier Developments understood two important things. First, not everyone has access to a PC capable of playing Planet Coaster; and second, not everyone will enjoy playing the game with a controller. To deal with this second issue, Frontier Developments has actually implemented mouse and keyboard support on the PS5, giving folks with access to a bluetooth or USB keyboard and mouse the option to play this way. I only used the mouse and keyboard for an hour or so, as I wanted to play in a more relaxed position on the couch. That being said, I do appreciate the added feature! If you have the space to sit properly and have access to a hard surface for those extra peripherals, it does make playing Planet Coaster that much easier.
Make quick changes on the fly
Still, even if you choose to play with the controller, the development team has made it a very viable option. Whether putting down paths, placing scenery, or building coasters, easy command prompts and well used radial menus will have you building parks faster than you might imagine. And that brings us full circle back to the gameplay. In Planet Coaster, you cannot just build rides and sit and watch.
Management is way too important, and impacts how well your park performs. You will be creating and managing your virtual world 24/7. Your job isn’t done when a ride is built. Even extra scenery around your queue lines for rides will help make them more appealing, a feature not found in other theme park tycoon games. A more appealing ride means more guests, more guests means more money, and the loop continues. It is addicting, and it’s immensely satisfying to see your park grow!
Fun and cartoony art style that helps immerse you in the experience
Planet Coaster Console Edition uses a fun and cartoony art style that really suites the type of game it is. While there is depth in the planning and building of your parks, at its core, the game is still generally goofy fun. And the characters walking around the park reflect that reality. The staff are equally as entertaining to look at, especially the entertainers you can hire.
Once you get past the incredibly annoying voice acting that is prominent during the tutorial, the sounds of a typical theme park quickly take over. This really does help immerse you into the game. Empty sections of the park will be deadly quiet, but as you move towards the hubs of activity, you will hear crowds, rides, and much more. While other games blanket generic music over the entire experience, Planet Coaster really does strive to create a typical theme park atmosphere. For the most part, they deliver.
Three different game modes
There are three different ways to play Planet Coaster Console Edition: Career, Challenges, and Sandbox. Playing through the career mode is the obvious starting point. It will not only teach you how to play, it will allow you to see some unique building ideas that could inspire you later in Sandbox mode. This mode also gives you a sense of progression, like you are building towards something. I really enjoyed collecting bronze, silver, and gold stars on each park, and unlocking new parks with higher and higher completion difficulties. This mode really pushed both my creative abilities and my financial management skills. I found to be an excellent introduction to all things Planet Coaster.
Challenge mode also put my skills to the test. Here, players will build their own theme park
empire, constructing parks across various environments. Depending on the difficult setting you choose, you will have varied amounts of startup money, rides available, and guest demands. Sandbox mode is the least rewarding of the three as there are no penalties for failure. Money does not exist here, and everything is unlocked from the get-go. If you want to just create without limits, this is the place to do it!
Download other’s creations or upload your own
There is no traditional multiplayer in Planet Coaster. That being said, the Frontier Workshop is a great place to view and download the parks and scenery creations of other players, and even to upload your own creations. One way that Planet Coaster sets itself apart from other theme park tycoon titles is the ability to create scenery from almost scratch.
You can grab a tree, grab a rock, and perhaps grab a chest of coins. Position them however you want, creating a unique scenery item. That item can then be saved, and uploaded to the Frontier Workshop for others to enjoy! I have spent hours creating unique scenery items, whether to upload or to place in my parks. The level of creative options here is astounding.
Planet Coaster Console Edition is a comprehensive coaster park management game with a whole host of ways to play
Ultimately, you will get as much out of Planet Coaster Console Edition as you put into it. The initial offering is huge, with over a dozen fun parks to work with. As a result, you have the ability to create whatever you want. Should you wish to supplement your experience, additional rides, booths, and scenery is available as DLC, to extend your tycoon experience that much further.
That being said, even without all the paid extras, you won’t be wanting for new content for a long, long time. Xbox gamers can pickup Planet Coaster Console Edition on Xbox Game Pass.
+ Lots of customization options
+ Great controls, and keyboard and mouse support
+ Dozens upon dozen of hours of fun
– Steep learning curve; not pick up an play
OVERALL ASSESSMENT OF PLANET COASTER CONSOLE EDITION
Lasting Appeal/Replayability: 5/5