Coaster Creator 3D
3DS Download | Big John Games / Gamers Digital | 1 Player | Out Now (North America) | $9.99
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28th February 2013; By KnucklesSonic8
even with the defined goals the game (if you choose to label it as such) appears to have, the question arises as to whether or not it can withstand the test of time using only what boils down to a creation component.
Contrasting other likenesses, Coaster Creator 3D adopts a skew that emphasizes maintenance and design over management and business. From the get-go, Coaster Creator 3D is portrayed as, not a full-fledged endeavour, but a studio for creating coasters without any additional ties in the way of drawing monetary benefits. Supporting the central Sandbox area is a Career mode that basically involves making adjustments on pre-made tracks. Directives include adding track gimmicks to avoid airborne targets, creating regimented bumps in the track to alter speed, straightening twisted rails, and other things of this nature. When you're asked to prevent a group of passengers from hurting themselves on the ride, it's not that deadly consequences will arise if you fail to comply, so in that sense too, Coaster Creator 3D is more, shall we say, safe than its main inspiration.
Serving as a loose tutorial of sorts, often what will happen over the course of the Career mode is you'll only be given a limited set of tools, with resources being locked out that would otherwise be freely accessible in the main track editor. Unfortunately, this understandable restriction of progressively opening up new elements ends up backfiring, proving to be a downfall to the overall package.
When you first begin toying with the system, the controls involved in maneuvering around the space feel clunky, even with the different camera options available. At first I thought I could get done what I needed to by matching portions of the track in relation to the on-screen targets that the coaster needs to pass through, but controlling it this way doesn't always produce the intended results. So then I figured the touch-and-drag system was inverted, but even this didn't match up with what was displayed on the screen as I moved things about. The biggest mistake the game makes, and the very same trouble that players will stumble over, is that the game doesn't explicitly state that you can adjust elevation by changing the vantage point of the editor with the +Control Pad. In the default position, it's set to an overhead view, but it can be changed to a side view to affect vertical height changes. Perhaps the team felt it was an obvious element, but it involved much frustration on my part to, an hour later, find out that there was a small detail I had somehow overlooked.
In relation to the above, I was left irritated by how needlessly restrictive the career progression is, not in the sense of unlocking new challenges (another two are unlocked for each one you complete), but from the standpoint of how the game withholds valuable resources as a training exercise that truthfully isn't very user-friendly in the way this has all come out. Of course, it wasn't until I came to a realization on the system that I realized where the game really went wrong, but even with that being the case, it's still a problem.
As a case in point, there are challenges where one of the only tools available is the Track Wizard, a menu that allows you to implement loops, corkscrews and twists on your track. And sadly, these situations present a problem, as players will find themselves creating excess loops to compensate for slight gaps that prevent the track from passing through or avoiding targets as directed. Ultimately, the system forces you to tackle each section that needs correcting in a systematic manner, because if you realize by way of a test run that not all parts add up, trying to correct the matter after the fact is a nuisance. Why this is so is for two reasons: One, you can't manually detach loops later on if you realize that your approach is only amplifying the problem, and two, the undo feature only has a set amount of entries to pull from, leaving you stuck when you can only go back so far but still want to preserve some portions that have been executed properly.
To add to the list, there are some inconsistencies with the physics that will, when they surface, prompt you to scrap what you've worked towards. Getting stuck on a roller coaster is an absolute nightmare, and there are definitely times where this will happen during your time with the game, not because of an oversight on your part, but because of the system being unreliable in places. There are times when you'll initiate a test run after tweaking a course with a number of bends and dramatic curves, and once you're sent back to the editor, portions of the track will shift on its own, rather than remaining stationary. Additionally, making potentially drastic changes in track layout and position can formulate or enlarge twists by accident, and at the most inconvenient of places, it ends up being that the car doesn't have enough momentum to move forward, even though it was previously able to run through the entire thing just fine. Trying to undo the webs that are created can be a pain, as you'll often find yourself moving further away from the state you're aiming for. With all this in mind, while it's not a pervasive situation that's something to wrestle with at every turn, Coaster Creator 3D can be twitchy in places and, evidently, in need of some refinement.
Chances are, learning of the above won't bode well for your enthusiasm, but it's important to separate some of these divisive traits as being limited to the Career mode. Getting away from some of the nonsense there, the tool set, while not diverse, is perfectly suitable and capable of executing ambitious creations. The core system at work here has some good qualities to it in the way that it doesn't present a great deal of hoops to jump through to create something of merit. Now, I wouldn't go so far as to call it robust by any means, but the way players are eased into the customization and design is much better than what the above annoyances suggest.
After selecting the coaster type and a starter template for the lift, players use their stylus to create an outline of their track, marking some points as hills to create starter elevation. Once all that is set, you can include gimmicks using the aforementioned Track Wizard, remove or add points to even things out, or support your creations through themed props and traditional set pieces. As I mentioned before, there are multiple camera views present (including one that uses the gyroscope), which is appreciated, but to avoid bouncing from menu to menu for zoom purposes, you can use the buttons instead. My only complaints with the system are that you don't have direct control on the seating arrangement of your Miis, and that you can only set seven-letter track names. As far as the overall presentation, I have to say that while the small variety of locations is welcome, really the onus is on the player to spice up the backgrounds. The music, on the other hands, isn't varied in the slightest, and some will find it a tad repetitive. What is more, it's hard to even get a good read on it since it's not the greatest fit either. There are also occasional drops in framerate, but this is only when an overbearing amount of loops are added into the mix, never reaching a severe level.
Just about anyone can find reason to put at least an hour into Coaster Creator 3D (I myself spent seven, with some challenges still to complete), but in truth, you don't get much in return. The 3DS Camera application is used to scan QR Codes that translate into custom creations from other users, but the replay value stemming from content sharing is highly dependent on how drawn in you are by the idea of creating coasters with no end-game or goal in sight. There is a mini-game that generates stars and arrows along the track for you to collect, but this is an activity I wouldn't even label as a "diversion" because there's just no point to it.
Frankly, Coaster Creator 3D is more of a novelty than anything else, and I can see many finding the game pricey for the restrained take that it is. For what they are, the missions they have you undertaking in the Career component do a good job, but the overall system does come with problems that, while not completely undermining, can be frustrating to deal with. Sure, Coaster Creator 3D isn't the most dedicated tool, but the little staying power shouldn't completely deter you, as there is some fun to be had if you're willing to swallow the off-putting price tag.
18/30 - Okay/Average
Gameplay 6/10 - Controls clunky at first, some good missions but with issues, physics issues and other inconsistencies, unreliable at times
Presentation 6/10 - Welcome perspective changes, some uninteresting aspects, music not the greatest, personality and refinement needed in places
Enjoyment 3/5 - Process frustrates when fumbles are present, only a limited degree of satisfaction that can be derived from the overall package
Extra Content 3/5 - Career offers 20 challenges, heart of the game is creating and sharing custom creations, pricey compared to other options
Equivalent to a score of 60% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating) - Our Rating System