Disney's Ultimate Ride Coaster Deluxe is a roller coaster design game that lets you build and ride your own coasters in one of several 3D virtual environments. It's an updated version of Ultimate Ride, which was released in October of last year, and it includes several improvements such as new track types, coaster parts, and themes. While the game's improvements add some fun new options to the Ultimate Ride experience, Coaster Deluxe is essentially just a slightly better version of the original game.
Like its predecessor, Coaster Deluxe allows you to build your own coaster in a free-form sandbox mode, modify a prebuilt coaster, or try to complete one of a number of puzzlelike scenarios. In the free-form mode, you have access to the complete range of coaster types--wooden, steel, hanging, and the new standing and flying types--and you can build any coaster you choose, providing it obeys the laws of physics. The game contains several different 3D environments in which to build your coaster, as well as a number of decorative objects and props to add some pizzazz to the ride.
In the game's imagineer mode, you must complete a partially built coaster according to a set of specific requirements, such as building a coaster with a certain number of loops, building it so that the ride stays below a maximum level of vertical or horizontal G force, or building it within a specific time limit. The early imagineering scenarios also serve as a partial tutorial for the game and an introduction to the game's various features. Completing the requirements of a scenario will open up additional scenarios--the game has a total of 50--and a coaster that goes above and beyond the requirements may also be awarded with a bronze, silver, or gold medal. If the in-game rewards aren't enough for you, the official Ultimate Ride Web site hosts an ongoing coaster competition that lets players upload their best custom coasters to be rated by other players.
The actual building of the coaster is fairly straightforward. Beginning with one of several different start/stop stations, you extend the coaster by adding various track parts, such as straight sections, curves, loops, corkscrews, or the new half loops, shallow curves, and half corkscrews. As you build your coaster, you can keep track of the coaster's speed and G forces by watching a simple status window. Additional track elements such as accelerators, chain pulls, and brakes can be added to help control the speed of the coaster in specific areas. Since all coasters must obey the laws of physics, you can't let the speed drop below zero at any point in the track or the coaster will not complete its circuit. In order to complete your coaster, you have to bring the track around to the start/stop point and click the "complete coaster" button for the computer to automatically finish the circuit and connect the remaining track parts.
Once a coaster has been completed--or even before the coaster is complete--you can ride it in a first-person 3D perspective or watch it from a few third-person 3D perspectives. The graphics and sound effects do a pretty good job of giving you the feeling of riding the coaster--sometimes to the point where you'll feel yourself leaning into upcoming turns and loops--but the experience is somewhat lonely since there are no other riders on the coaster and the traditional sounds of screaming are completely absent. On the other hand, the game's soundtrack manages to provide a pleasant background melody while building or riding without becoming overly repetitive or annoying.
Although the new track types and parts add some variety to Coaster Deluxe, the game still has some of the minor problems found in its predecessor. While individual track parts can be tweaked--banked right or left, tilted up and down, and extended or shortened--one issue that can be somewhat frustrating is that once a coaster is complete, it is difficult to switch parts in the middle or the beginning, since the coasters are built and dismantled sequentially. The only way to cut or switch a part in the middle is to delete track parts from the end of the coaster all the way back to the element you want to change and then rebuild the entire track afterward. Another minor issue is that while your coaster may adhere to all the requirements in a particular imagineering scenario before it is completed, once you let the computer auto-complete the last bit you may find that a particular G force is out of range or that the time limit has been exceeded. Similarly, once you have completed a track, the game will tell you what could be done to improve the coaster to win a medal, but the interface makes it tricky to go back and improve the coaster.
In spite of the game's few shortcomings, Ultimate Ride Coaster Deluxe is an enjoyable roller coaster design tool and simulation that improves on its predecessor with more missions and a better variety of track-building options. While its heart is a functional and straightforward coaster building tool, the game's imagineering mode makes it a fun game that should challenge fans of physics-based puzzles and give roller coaster fans of all ages enough twists and turns to tide them over until their next visit to the amusement park.