Can a roller­coaster be too scary?

One theme park nerd’s frus­tra­tions with PLANET COASTER’S vir­tual guests

PC GAMER (US) - - CONTENTS -

Theme parks are my happy place. I’ve never found a roller­coaster I didn’t im­me­di­ately want to rejoin the queue for af­ter­wards. To be hon­est, my not-so-se­cret life’s dream is to buy up the UK’s Alton Tow­ers, live in its house, and run it solely for my own plea­sure, no pub­lic al­lowed. Sadly, that wealthy long-lost aunt who’ll re­mem­ber me fondly in her will re­mains long-lost.

This is why I love Planet Coaster’s eye for de­tail. Go on a ride, and the re­straints will click down over your vir­tual head. You’ll see the rivets on the lift hill. And you can tin­ker with ev­ery­thing. The flipside is that its tiny vir­tual guests are an ut­ter night­mare to please—al­ways com­plain­ing about some­thing, from the lack of bath­rooms to, if you can credit it, rides be­ing too scary. Oh, please.

I fall foul of this ab­surd pick­i­ness when I break away from the tem­plated roller­coast­ers and de­cide to recre­ate Thorpe Park’s Colos­sus. It’s aged now, but I have a soft spot for its lay­out. Lift hill, first drop, ver­ti­cal loop, air­time hill, co­bra roll, dou­ble corkscrew, four heart­line rolls, then a fi­nal, cheeky lit­tle heart­line roll as you re­turn to the sta­tion. It was the world’s first ten-loop­ing coaster back in 2002, fact fans.

Fear fac­tor

Once com­pleted, I name it Colos­sus 2 and ride it my­self, sev­eral times in a row. In my hum­ble opin­ion, it’s bril­liant. I can’t get enough of those heart­line rolls. Then I look at the re­sults of my pre­open­ing test. Colos­sus 2 is, ap­par­ently, scor­ing a whop­ping 20.00 on the fear scale,

“The truth?” I mutt er at my screen. “You can’t han­dle the truth”

and a dizzy­ing 14.54 on the nau­sea axis. I look at the heatmap to check which bits in­stil fear, and the whole damn track lights up scar­let. Even the brake run. A pop-up ap­pears, telling me that guests will find it too scary to ride. “The truth?” I mut­ter at my screen. “You can’t han­dle the truth.” The truth might be that this trav­els at a faster clip than its IRL coun­ter­part, but I never claimed to have a de­gree in me­chan­i­cal engineering.

I open Colos­sus 2 re­gard­less. No­body rides it, not one lone thrillseeker. I’m dis­mayed, given that theme parks are al­ways try­ing to one-up each other. The cur­rent world record for most in­ver­sions is 14; 456ft is the high­est; 149mph is the speed record. Those rides at­tract queues last­ing hours. So how is my hum­ble coaster too much for at­ten­dees? The only way to en­tice rid­ers, I find, is to de­crease the height of the lift hill so that the speed drops to slug­gish lev­els. At that point, they love it. Is this what leg­endary coaster de­signer John Ward­ley had to put up with?

I’m sick of hav­ing to ap­pease these tiny tyrants, mess­ing up my painstak­ingly de­signed park with their vomit, sap­ping my morale with their de­mands for more, and re­jec­tions of that ‘more’ when it’s of­fered to them. There’s only one thing for it: I close the gates to my park and treat my­self to three rides on ev­ery­thing. Great aun­tie Gla­dys, I’ve got my eye on your for­tune.

Rolls even sweeter than the cin­na­mon kind.

They’ll hap­pily en­trust them­selves to this, but not to my coaster. Huh.

Turns out the scari­est part is… all of it, ap­par­ently?

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