Planet Coaster: Console Edition review: Tycoon living

Frontier Developments has brought its acclaimed theme-park builder to console for the first time. Our review.

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Planet Coaster first released back in 2016 to positive responses. From Frontier Developments, this sim brought us back to the glory days of theme-park builders. With the arrival of gaming’s next generation, Frontier is bringing Planet Coaster to Xbox and PlayStation. Along with giving more players access to the acclaimed experience from PC, Planet Coaster: Console Edition offers new features and improvements. 

Theme park apprentice

Planet Coaster features an assortment of rides and tools that players can use to build their own unique theme park. Because of this, the tutorial is pretty important as it shows players the ropes of maneuvering the pretty extensive UI. Planet Coaster: Console Edition adds an in-depth voice tutorial that walks players through the basic steps. As it can be a bit of a task to get acquainted with the systems in a deep sim like Planet Coaster, I appreciated the revamped tutorial.

One of the struggles that’s nearly impossible to overcome with these management simulators is the shift in controls. On PC, it’s easy to make snap adjustments and to flip through categories with a mouse and keyboard, this is simply not a luxury enjoyed by those playing on console. This issue is present in Planet Coaster: Console Edition, as navigating through menus and building tracks with a gamepad is just inferior to a keyboard and mouse. It doesn’t ruin the experience, but can make getting around feel like a chore.

Where dreams come true

Planet Coaster has three core modes: Career, Sandbox, and Challenge. Career mode is a longform session where players are given a base theme/groundwork, and are tasked with creating the best theme park they can. Working as the game’s standard mode, I thought career was a really solid balance of satisfying simulation play, with a good deal of challenges thrown into the mix. 

Challenge mode is for the true management tycoons of the world. Putting players in a unique setting (City, Arctic, etc.) and giving them a limited amount of cash, Challenge mode puts true management skills to the test. While the limited number of resources creates for a daunting experience, Challenge mode is a great litmus test of game skill for any experienced park manager. 

Sandbox is where players will undoubtedly spend a large chunk of their time in Planet Coaster. Completely letting players off the leash, Sandbox mode allows the imagination to run wild. No longer having to worry about finances or attendee feedback, Sandbox mode is a great place to test out ideas before implementing them in Career or Challenge mode. Or, if you’re like me, you just place a bunch of random rides that border on the line of death traps. 

Becoming a mogul

The management/simulator franchise has exploded over the last several years, but there is something so charming about a good theme park simulator. Planet Coaster does a great job at capturing the essence of the beloved games from the genre that released in the late 90s and early 2000s. Planet Coaster: Console Edition adds hundreds of new ride blueprints, offering even more customization and personalization options for players to mess with. Rather it be a teacup ride for the family or a daunting rollercoaster, there's plenty of ways to make a mark your own.

Planet Coaster is a simulator to its core. Beyond simply building and placing rides and roller coasters, there’s so much to see and plenty to balance. If you’re like me, you love when games give you tons of analytical feedback, especially in sim games. In Planet Coaster, you can view statistics such as monthly/lifetime income for any ride, their speeds, and get live feedback from attendees. If you wanted, you could easily spend over an hour making one ride the perfect combination of excitement, scenery, and aesthetic flair. 

For the most part, Planet Coaster: Console Edition is a worthy companion to the original PC game. However, there are still moments where you can feel the game struggling to run smoothly on console. I experienced some framerate drops when things got too busy or I moved around too quickly. The load screens were a bit lengthy, but I have to assume those will be cut significantly on the Xbox Series X and PS5, as I was playing on an Xbox One S. That being said, Planet Coaster: Console Edition is still a solid port of a game that was originally designed for PC hardware. 

Park’s closed

Frontier Developments’ Planet Coaster: Console Edition brings a celebrated PC title to both modern and next-gen consoles. New content makes the game feel a refreshed experience, rather than just an old game ported to run on new hardware. I ran into some tech hiccups while playing on console, but it didn’t rain on my parade hard enough to make me wanna close down the park.


This review is based on a digital Xbox One code providede by the publisher. Planet Coaster: Console Edition is available now for PC, Xbox One, Xbox Series X, PS4, and PS5 for $49.99.

Contributing Editor

Donovan is a young journalist from Maryland, who likes to game. His oldest gaming memory is playing Pajama Sam on his mom's desktop during weekends. Pokémon Emerald, Halo 2, and the original Star Wars Battlefront 2 were some of the most influential titles in awakening his love for video games. After interning for Shacknews throughout college, Donovan graduated from Bowie State University in 2020 with a major in broadcast journalism and joined the team full-time. He is a huge Star Wars nerd and film fanatic that will talk with you about movies and games all day. You can follow him on twitter @Donimals_

Pros
  • Deep simulator full of systems
  • Plenty of analytical feedback
  • Improved tutorial
  • Plenty of new blueprints
Cons
  • UI is more difficult to navigate with a gamepad than mouse and keyboard
  • Frame drops
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