Running RollerCoaster Tycoon (and Expansions) under Windows XP

RollerCoaster Tycoon Box

One of my favorite games of all time is Chris Sawyer’s RollerCoaster Tycoon. I love carefully crafting a park layout, building coasters that work with the landscape and are fun to watch, and sitting back as thousands of digital denizens enjoy my creations (and hand over thousands of digital dollars). Piles of new games come out every year, but I periodically pop this one back into my computer anyway; its replay value is pretty much infinite. (It helps that I’ve never gotten more than maybe ten scenarios in. I just have too much fun with each park!) And the expansions are totally worth it, if only for the DO NOT ENTER signs that will keep guests out of your ride exit paths.

I haven’t played the sequel, but I imagine I would like it very much – more of the same, with larger parks and maybe support for higher screen resolution. I do own RCT3, but it just isn’t the same… the game is clunky and runs slowly on every system I’ve tried it on. So back to the original I go.

Unfortunately, every time I install the game to a new computer, I’m reminded that it’s aging rapidly and must be installed carefully to be compatible with Windows XP. For anyone who missed out on this incredible game, here’s the trick to get it running on a modern PC:

  1. Install RollerCoaster Tycoon
  2. Install the latest RCT patch
  3. Install your expansion pack of choice
  4. Install the latest patch for the expansion

Those patches are getting harder to find. You can get them at TycoonPlanet. They also host a more detailed Compatibility Guide if you’re having trouble getting it up and running.