With the best month on the board—that being October—being just around the corner, I’m starting to look ahead at what life experiences will end up in Triumphs & Tribulations XXII, which is set to begin next Friday. While I was doing that, I did take a peek back at past years’ entries in late September, and there was the entry from Triumphs & Tribulations I on this very day 20 years ago that tickled me. It was a Monday evening, just 2 weeks after a national tragedy, and I was at home…still in my uniform as I had wrapped up my shift at Domino’s Pizza about an hour earlier. I had just finished Chapter 1 of Upton Sinclair’s The Jungle as part of Mr. Moore’s Honors United States History 11 curriculum (I was a little over 2 months away from Rani Chapman stealing my book), and making sense of that chapter was a bit nerve-racking. So, to decompress, I broke out the old Compaq Presario 1200 and started playing RollerCoaster Tycoon. I opened up one of the saves from the Dynamite Dunes level and I was working on adding the Launched Freefall thrill ride. Unfortunately, I gave it too much launch speed, and that joint flew right through, and customers died. My Park Rating took a massive hit, and I was so annoyed that I just shut off the computer. That brings me to this week’s moment in the Flashback Friday series: the RollerCoaster Tycoon video game.
How I first came across this moment? I first came across RollerCoaster Tycoon a few months earlier…in March 2001. I was on spring break, and I certainly wasn’t staying in the house, so I took the MAX out to the Wildwood Shopping Center to hang out. Besides seeing Recess: School’s Out at Regal Cinemas Wildwood 14 and looking at the new arrivals in Books-A-Million, I stopped in at the Walmart Supercenter. I saw the game in the electronics section, and it looked interesting. It was only $10.99, and I had the loot, so I bought it.
What it meant to me then? RollerCoaster Tycoon was my first building simulation game. I would play throughout the late spring and the summer of 2001, especially after my late shifts at Domino’s. I found joy in the Forest Frontiers level. I loved that park. It was excellent for a beginner. I had the Haunted House, the Spiral Slide, and the Bumper Cars. The rollercoasters, obviously, were the draw though. The Wooden Roller Coaster and the Stand-Up Roller Coaster were godsends. I also had the Log Flume in that joint. I was pretty good at attractions, but I neglected the shops and stalls for the most part, and my first park suffered because of it. My lessons from that actually moved me to write out my plans for parks before I even started them. I had sketches and everything. As I progressed to other levels like Dynamite Dunes, Leafy Lake, and Diamond Heights, my planning beforehand was actually quite beneficial.
What it means to me now? As I got deeper into my junior year of high school and earned more responsibility at work, I didn’t have much time to play RollerCoaster Tycoon. I didn’t install it on the Gateway Solo 1200. I certainly didn’t make it a priority when I acquired The Deuce. It kinda just faded away in oblivion. Back in 2013, I was big into SimCity, and my old HP Pavilion 15 Beats Special Edition was where I played Cities: Skylines. Those games focused on building whole cities from scratch and they were a lot different than my early experiences with building simulation games. Reading that journal entry from 2001 has actually reignited my passion for RollerCoaster Tycoon. I think I will download whatever version is compatible with Windows 10 (or the forthcoming Windows 11) and see where it takes me.