As is usually the case with me, Coaster Park, designed by Scott Almes, is a game that I've had my eyes on long before I've had the chance to play. Seeing as Coaster Park was released by Pandasaurus Games in December of last year, I know that I'm a little behind on my playing. But hey, better late than never. Right?
The premise is certainly interesting, and definitely appealed to my love of Mousetrap as a child. Certainly, half of the fun of Coaster Park is the all-important final step, where you try out the coasters you've built and gain points for how far down the track your marble makes it, before physics dooms your ride to an end!
But first, you've got to get some pieces of the ride together, and Coaster Park comes with more than just a few!
The pieces are broken up into "launch hills," that are the starting drop of your roller coaster, and "standard" hills that you can buy and add onto your coaster to gain extra points. Then there's the gold and silver money pieces that you use to buy the pieces for your coaster, along with special cards that allow you extra abilities in building your coaster!
If you're a parent or teacher looking for a game that can also be educational, Coaster Park is a great choice because a crazy design alone isn't enough to win you the game, your roller coaster must be a functioning one! Your marble has to make it over each hill for that piece to count, so physics and dexterity are big parts of the game!
Building the track can be a little troublesome the first time around, but with a little practice you can get the hang of it pretty quickly!
If I had any criticism, it would be that the rules could do with a little more explanation. I feel like in the effort to keep the game from seeming overly complicated and maybe more attractive to younger or players, the rules were shortened to the point where we had some questions that could have impacted gameplay.
That said, the designers did go through the trouble of including a nice insert with a QR code to link to a demo video of tips and tricks that was very helpful. I absolutely recommend that everyone takes a moment to watch this first!
What really impressed me is how well the mechanics of the game are interconnected with the actual mechanics of building your roller coaster. It's not just a free-for-all with the pieces. Instead, players take turns deciding which pieces to offer up for sale, and the price at which to sell the piece. If you're not careful, you can end up with hills that won't work for your coaster, or worse, you'll run out of money to buy more pieces before the game ends!
The pricing mechanic reminded quite a bit of the arrangement of pricing of rooms in Castles of Mad King Ludwig (but that's another review!), and it makes for an interesting strategy even more in this game, because if you over-price your chosen piece and no one else buys it, then you end up having to cough up the money!
Another thing that I especially like about Coaster Park is that it's just as much fun to play with as a toy as it to play through the actual game. I found myself playing around with different combinations of coaster pieces long after the actual game was over!
There's even a hill with a bit of a jump that's a lot of fun to combine with a "divot" hill....
All in all, I really enjoyed my first time trying out Coaster Park! The strategy of the game was definitely challenging. With all of the different possible combinations of coasters, I'll give it high marks for re-playability, and not to mention that building your own roller coaster is just a fun idea. Even if you're not a big fan of physics (and if you are, then you'll REALLY love this game), there's plenty to enjoy!