Casual gaming developers Digital Chocolate are on a roll this month, releasing yet another mobile-turned-Web game just this week. Rollercoaster Rush—originally a tiny action game for cell phones—has been revamped and upgraded to Flash, showcasing better graphics and an improved collection of levels. Rollercoaster Rush puts you behind the "wheel" of a rollercoaster brake operator. Essentially, it's your job to ensure that passengers have the thrill of their life, while at the same time making sure it's not their last. Just as any seasoned operator will tell you, the first rule in rollercoaster school is to avoid sending your passengers flying off the track to the pavement a hundred feet below. It's just bad for business.
So in Rollercoaster Rush, you control just two things: the acceleration and braking of the coaster. It's a pretty simple setup; just use [left arrow] to apply the brakes and [right arrow] to speed up. If you need to pause the action, just hit the menu button at the top of the screen. Each level presents you with a different rollercoaster track, beginning with simple ups and downs and eventually leading into severe slopes and multiple loops. A moment before each change in the track occurs, a moving yellow sign will appear on the screen, indicating the shape of the upcoming track. As the sign comes nearer to its outlined frame in the middle, the less time you have to adjust before it's too late. This usually gives you the time you need to alter speed; either accelerating so that you can climb a hill or blast through loops, or applying the breaks to ensure that you're not at top speed at the crest of a hill, which would send the rollercoaster cars flying away or crashing into a piece of upcoming track.
Scoring is simply tied to how much fun the customers are having. The passengers in the cars will display little smiley-faces when you're doing a good job of giving them their money's worth. The wider their smiles, the more fun they're having and the higher your score will be. And the happier your customers are, the more they'll spread the word about your rollercoaster skills, leading more passengers to board your coaster in subsequent levels. As a well-designed incentive, you've got to obtain a high enough customer satisfaction rating before you can move on to the next track, or you'll have to repeat the level until you get it right.
Analysis: If you didn't know any better, you might mistake Rollercoaster Rush for a Nitrome game at first glance. The action and style are similar, and judging by the popularity of most Nitrome games, that's a compliment for this game. Levels increase in difficulty at a steady pace as you're met with harder obstacles like multiple loops, mountain-like slopes and even crazy track jumps. Things get really interesting when all these elements are smashed together close to one another. It requires some pretty precise speeding up and slowing down at just the right moments, or you'll either send your passengers flying to their doom or give them a boring ride. The graphics and sound are both rendered nicely in this Flash upgrade of the original, although judging by the developer's recent work, one has to wonder if they could have designed it a bit prettier.
Digital Chocolate also offers a PC version of the game to buy; a downloadable game with 75 total levels on three continents. The free online version offers the U.S. levels only. Although the game itself is a short ride in all, it's a fun one, especially if you're a fan of action games (that goes double for you rollercoaster junkies out there).
Play Rollercoaster Rush (Flash version)