Roller Coaster from Elite, is a fun fair simulation. Playing a punter, the idea is to collect all the cash left around the place during the day by the milling masses. The money is placed in the most awkward and precarious of perches and to get at it, various bits of active fairground machinery has to be negotiated. The background is that of typical American theme park with sideshows, palm trees, buildings and candy stores. These are located along the bottom of the playing screen while the amusements, usually, are a bit more skyrise.
Apart from a giant log flume, mini bumper cars and ferris wheel type rides, you'll also come across numerous waltzers scattered around the park. Made up of a number of separate cars that aren't connected in any way, they spin around the screen in weird sinusoidal patterns and yet retain their shape as a waltzer. Another attraction is the funhouse, a building full of platforms which cycle round, contorting and twisting while bouncing your little man along different paths.
Your character can travel and ride on any of the attractions he may find, by just jumping on. There's no need to pay! Since he's an athletic little chap, he's able to walk, run and jump, and can hitch a ride by hopping on at the right moment. Though looking big and butch with his ten gallon hat, our little hero is not invulnerable. Doing silly things like leaping off unreasonably high buildings or jumping into water takes away one of the ten lives supplied. If he is in imminent mortal peril, a little bit of zip can be added to his step by holding down M as well as a direction key. This near doubles the little sprite's pace and can be handy when attempting leaps over large gaps.
The money around the fair is represented by small blue objects that look nothing at all like money, really. Jumping through a square piece of money lets loose a satisfying squeak, and boosts the figure in the little box at the bottom of the screen which displays the money collected so far.
There are three major rides around the sixty screen fair, all of them sort of rollercoasters. The first is on the screen to the right the start location, and is an olde worlde log flume. One of the others is a gold mine and is a cave trip completes the trio. Any attempt to run up and down the track of one of the big rides is deadly, so it's best to wait for the roller coaster carriage to come along, and leap into it. As you zoom along in the car, you pass under money hanging tantalisingly in the sky. Careful timing is needed if you're to jump up, collect the loot and land safely back in the car.
As you travel throughout the fair the different screens flick into view as the central spritette moves off the edge of the current screen - as in so many other arcade adventures. Collect all the money and you've completed the game, but there's no need to be so avaricious - you could just scamper around and explore, having fun on the rides.
Control keys: O left, P right, M run faster, CAPS SHIFT to jump
Keyboard play: responsive
Use of colour: neatly done, but a few attribute problems
Graphics: some very cunning animation on the rides, neat
Sound: jolly tune to start with, and good effects
Skill levels: one
'I thought I'd seen all there was and could ever be in the form of platform games after Dynamite Dan but I've been proved wrong again. Graphically, Roller Coaster is very good: your man and the various rides are very well drawn and animated, and the backgrounds are very colourful - which leads to a bit of attribute clash, but nothing too glaring. Controlling your bloke is very easy; I liked the idea of the 'run' key, as this helps you get out of trouble. Generally I enjoyed playing this game as it is different from the usual type of platform game.'
'Roller Coaster was not written by the usual Elite team, and it shows. Not taking Elite's usual 'Every Game a Mega Game' attitude, the author has turned out an enjoyable and very impressive product. Though fundamentally just an arcade adventure platform game there are so many clever extras added it makes the whole thing seem almost original. Looking at static shots in this review, Roller Coaster may not look all that impressive, but when you see the different objects move it takes on a whole new dimension. I really like Roller Coaster and it's one o the most deserving titles yet to appear from Elite. It's what a game should be, just totally unpretentious and fun to play.'
'This game is brill! No longer do we poor country bumpkins have to wait till May for the fair: Roller Coaster brings all the fun of the it into your living room! Wonderful graphics, terrific use of colour, and amazing addictive qualities - it's just a great game. Big wheels, cafes, bumper cars and log flumes are all found in abundance on the many screens of this, the best from Elite for a long time. It owes a little in places to the legendary Manic Miner, in that here and there the old lateral thinking skills come in handy. All it needs now is an automatic, free candyfloss vendor!
'A CRASH Smash!' Encore inform us. And indeed it was, at 94% no less. But remember that it was Christmas 1986 when said that.
So have times achanged? Not that much because Colonel G Bogey is still hunting around his 60-screen fun fair for bags of dosh pinched by a pilfering employee.
You zoom around the well-animated and highly colourful screens riding the ghost train, log flume, and finally after many more rides embark on the roller coaster.
The emphasis in Roller Coaster is to have vast amounts of fun, and, boy, do you! Each screen is deviously devised, but not difficult to master once you get to grips with the gameplay. And the gameplay - it's so addictive! Don't hesitate to buy Roller Coaster, it's one of the best budget buys this month!
Amidst all the sophistication of games, the half screen tall sprites, the icon driven adventures, it's worth remembering where it all began... in the Arcades. It's worth breathing a nostalgic sigh for the times when all games were simple - some were simply dreadful but others were simply wonderful.
And let us not forget Miner Willy, Matthew Smith's classic coal cutter. His platform jumping exploits created so many clones that many people still run screaming when they see a game with only left, right and jump controls. (Right. nurse, I think we've lulled this reader into a sense of security. Now just slip the strait jacket on. Nice and secure? Good.)
Roller Coaster has only one key in addition to right, left and jump - but that's only a go faster button. (Good thing we used the manacles... cant escape when I drop the big one.) And Roller Coaster is great. Its plot is minimal - collect the money bags left inconveniently around a fairground, jump over obstacles and go for rides. That's all. Your little man doesn't even have a name.
So what is it that makes Roller Coaster almost as much fun as the real thing? I'm not sure. It's a high scorer - but that's not enough. And it looks good and has some classy opening music and spot effects - but that's not enough either. Then I think it must be the sheer addictiveness. Nothing's so difficult that you won't achieve something first time - but to get every bag you'll need to practise on every ride. And curiosity about what comes next will spur you on.
Elite has made something of a speciality converting arcade games of late. Here they have an original that's worthy of a full sized machine of its own.
Sometimes I wonder if this page isn't turning into a crap old arcade adventure column. First Techy Ted (which to be fair ain't crap at all), then Kokotoni Wilf (which to be fair is megacrap) and now Roller Coaster, yet another vintage Elite game that's seeing the light of day again after years in the catacombs. The question is, should it be allowed to? Although much harder and faster than Wilf - and a good deal better to look at - it's still a surprisingly uninteresting game. You move from screen to screen and platform to platform, picking up coins that have been left around the fairground, and hopping onto the rides which are all whirring away at top speed This of course makes it easy to get killed, which is what frequently happens. Unfortunately each screen is so difficult, with the control so precise, that you soon get bored trying to jump from one pixel to another and end up loading something else. This is what I did (twice I'm afraid). Although it's unquestionably an original treatment, I think we prefer our games a mite easier these days - or at least easier to get into. Still, it's better than Wilf (all right, I know that's not saying very much). For platformies who like a challenge (and then some) only.
THE RIDE on this roller coaster is all work and no play, but the rewards are worth the effort. The glimmer of gold is in your eyes as you survey the fairground which is scattered with nuggets.
You enter the fairground perched on top of a group of kiosks from which you can jump in two directions. The first jump takes you to three pieces of gold which you pick up by moving over them. To reach them you will have to jump onto a circular lift, made of platforms which continually move upwards, and then through a waterfall. The water will knock you off your platform and reduce your ten lives by one.
A short hop onto another platform then onto the huts will give you two pieces of gold, a further long hop, up to the log flume sign will get you the last piece. Be careful not to fall into the trap of believing what the signpost says. Following the arrow to the edge of the screen will bring you crashing to your death.
To get to the next screen you must descend to the kiosks, jump into the boughs of the palm tree, and leap off the edge of the screen.
The log flume is on this screen - it's a long ride taking you across five screens. First, though, you must jump to a pile of logs which hold more gold pieces. Accomplishing that, jump down to the start of the ride - which is protected by a deadly turnstile - and wait for the log car.
Before you reach the end of the ride, on the final screen in fact, you should jump from the car and onto another log pile which again contains gold nuggets.
Jump up to the palm trees at the edge of the screen and walk onto the next. That contains a cafe with an umbrella which moves up and down, and a lift which revolves around a spinning wheel.
Falling onto the lift during its downward are you can pick up a few points before jumping to the ground floor of the cafe to get to the next ride.
The house of fun is one of the most intricate rides in Roller Coaster - barring the waterfall lift on the first screen. It covers two screens, the first of which is an obstacle course, and involves moving across a jerky conveyor belt while jumping over red rocks and collecting gold.
By now your score should be pleasantly high, but you should not forget the rides on the other side of the start point. If you want to gain access to them you must go through the waterfall and enter the flying saucer ride which is a challenge to co-ordination.
Anticipation is the most important factor on the ride which consists of a circle of chairs whirling round the screen. You must jump onto one of those chairs, fly up to the palm trees, strip them of gold and then get back into the flying saucer.
Your exit point is at the bottom left of the screen. Leap into the hole in the ground and you will find yourself in another cafe with yet more chairs. Those are speeding round the screen at an incredible pace. Once you have given those a whirl you can jump to the ground and move on to the big wheels - a combination of whirling chairs and merry-go-rounds.
The mini-dodgems are next, and then you can float off down the river caves. You will be pleased to hear that you are near that famous roller coaster.
However, it is a real disappointment, just another ordinary ride on which you collect gold points. It does, however, take a long time and a lot of skill to get to the roller coaster. Perhaps the programmers thought of the ride as a reward rather than punishment.
Although Roller Coaster has a simple, one objective plot the number and diversity of rides makes it entertaining and irritating - most of the action involves jumping or falling of some kind. The game bears a slight resemblance to Jet Set Willy as you must work out which way you should move around the screen. However, it goes further because your actions on one screen may dictate your death on another. Not all signs and exits are passports to other rides. Roller Coaster may seem an after-thought release by Elite, but it is way ahead of most of the Willy rip-offs.
Programmer: S. Brocklehurst
MACHINE: Spectrum/Amstrad/CBM 64
PRICE: £6.95 (Sepc), £7.95 (CBM 64), £8.95 (Amstrad)
Roll up, roll up! Take your places please for a fun packed journey around a theme park. Ride the weird ghost train, speed down the water-chute in a hollowed out log, brave the dangers of the big wheel - and finally try out the stomach churning Roller Coaster itself!
Now, here's a new twist on the platform format. All the rides work as they would in real life.
The object of the game is to explore the fairground and discover bags of gold which are dotted around on the many rides. You may have to risk life and limb to get them.
You begin the game with five lives - you lose a life if you fall off something, get hit by something or simply run out of "lifeforce".
The graphics are extremely colourful - similar to Monty and JSW but with extra added pizazz! Sixty screens worth of Pizazz to be exert.
Ride the Roller Coaster just once and you won't want to get off for a long, long time.
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