Console ports of sims are difficult. Planet Coaster: Console Edition does its absolute darndest, and nearly succeeds. The amusement park simulator game from Frontier Developments was born on PC back in 2016 and is now available on consoles for the first time. Make your way through scenarios, build your dream park, or challenge yourself to build a park from the ground up with limited funds and consequences for your decisions.
The PC version of Planet Coaster is hailed as a truly worthy successor to the classic Roller Coaster Tycoon games. The Planet Coaster: Console Edition impressively packs all of the intricate design options of the original into a console controller-friendly package. The staggering amount of menus and controls may seem overwhelming at first, and I was not at all convinced the console edition would succeed in streamlining these menus. But honestly, while still a bit cumbersome, it’s probably as smooth and natural as it could possibly be.
Visually, on a now last-gen console, Planet Coaster: Console Edition is nothing particularly impressive. It looks basically the same as Frontier‘s 2013’s Zoo Tycoon. Maybe a tad sharper. It’s not a bad thing completely. The aesthetic is somewhere between chibi and cartoon realism and the textures and backgrounds are all pleasant. It just feels very much like a last-gen visual, for sure. The sound design is definitely perfect for the feel of an amusement park though.
For all the things that went right porting Planet Coaster: Console Edition to consoles, there is a lot that I struggled with. The camera, for example, is easy to control except for when trying to manipulate large objects. On several occasions, I just found myself spinning in circles with the camera trying to get a sense of direction and scale because the camera is fixed on the center of the object you are holding and can’t pan, only zoom and rotate. I also encountered numerous occasions where the camera got stuck underground or behind terrain because I was holding a large coaster and no amount of zooming or rotating would unstick me.
I had great fun playing scenarios, getting the hand of the great wealth of mechanics Planet Coaster: Console Edition has to offer. But I wish the tutorials went further than just the very basics. There felt like so many aspects of the game I was underprepared for even after the initial tutorials, such as terrain and structure construction. The voice acting during the scenarios also constantly oscillated between funny and annoying and I cannot decide which side it lands on for me.
For as much as I enjoyed my first several hours, then there was the wall I hit. I spent well over an hour simply trying to place one large rollercoaster in my park during a scenario. No matter what I did, painstakingly turning it in every direction, moving all other nearby attractions away, demolishing every last bit of terrain and scenery, and so on, nothing worked. The game just consistently told me that there was an obstruction or a terrain issue. But, for the life of me, I could not figure out where the issue was. The entire thing just looked like one shade of red, so I couldn’t clearly see a spot with an issue. The camera couldn’t detach from the center of the object so I couldn’t soon in places to check. And there was no option to zoom on the problem spot, as I understand there to be on the PC edition. It led to a heap of frustration and disappointment.
Eventually, I just tried to build my own coaster instead. I am going to assume that the issue I had with this option was a combination of impatience, poor precision on my joysticks’ parts, and a lack of practice navigating the litany of intricate aspects of what goes into making a rollercoaster viable in this game. In theory, this feels like something that could be really fun to keep playing with. But in the heat of a scenario with so much frustration over the previous issue, I gave up on that too and just found the quickest way to finish the scenario possible.
I think Planet Coaster: Console Edition is absolutely a worthwhile port. Especially given its presence on Xbox Game Pass. It manages to take an immensely complicated game and package it into something it was never designed to fit into. Just come in with a healthy serving of patience and willingness to forgive some glitches and issues, some banal and some a bit rough, especially if you are free playing and not in pre-built scenario parks.
Planet Coaster: Console Edition is available now on Xbox One, Xbox X|S, PlayStation 4, and PlayStation 5.
Planet Coaster: Console Edition
I think Planet Coaster: Console Edition is absolutely a worthwhile port. It manages to take an immensely complicated game and package it into something it was never designed to fit into. Just come in with a healthy serving of patience and willingness to forgive some glitches and issues, some banal and some a bit rough, especially if you are free playing and not in pre-built scenario parks.