7 Best Theme Park Simulators To Play In 2020

Jurassic World Evolution: Return to Jurassic Park Review

Last week we offered up our list of games that parents could play with their kids and Planet Coaster was a solid choice. But is it the best the theme park sim genre has to offer? Maybe, maybe not. There aren’t as many games coming out in the genre as there were at the turn of the century but it’s amazing just how well theme park games withstand the test of time. So, from roller coasters to dinosaurs, we have picked the 7 best theme park simulators to play in 2020.

7 – Jurassic World Evolution

  • Release Date: June 12, 2018
  • Developer: Frontier Developments
  • Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Are lions and tigers too tame for you? In Jurassic World: Evolution you get to build your very own dino theme park just like in the movies. Except maybe your dinos won’t eat the visitors? Maybe. As Jeff Goldblum said, “Yeah, but your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should.” Yes, you should.

6 – Thrillville: Off The Rails

  • Release Date: October 9, 2007
  • Developer: Frontier Developments
  • Platform(s): PC (and a bunch of older consoles)

You’ll be creating and managing a theme park in Off The Rails but Frontier took a lighter approach here than with their other tycoon games. Instead of the typical birds-eye view you’ll get up close and personal as you navigate through your park at ground level. You play through Off The Rails as the teenage manager of the park, placing unique and sometimes completely unrealistic rides, interacting with park visitors, and playing mini-games. Yes, you actually play mini-games and some of them are pretty good.

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5 – Parkitect

  • Release Date: May 5, 2016
  • Developer: Texel Raptor
  • Platform(s): PC

You couldn’t tell Parkitect is one of the newer titles on this list. With its isometric view and grid-based placement mechanics, Parkitect heralds back to the old days when theme park sims were big. Parkitect also has its fair share of modern to it as well, focusing almost as much on park management and building support structures as it does on building rides for visitors. Oh, and it’s not made by Frontier either, so there’s that.

4 – No Limits 2

  • Release Date: August 21, 2014
  • Developer: Ole Lange
  • Platform(s): PC

When you’re ready to leave the kiddie rides behind and try your hand at creating realistic coasters, it’s time for No Limits 2. Other games dabble in rollercoaster creation but No Limits 2 is a genuine coaster creator. That said, it isn’t for everyone. For anyone without an engineering degree, the learning curve is as steep as any first drop out there. Put in the time and the payoff is the chance to create and then ride the coaster of your dreams. If you think this is the game for you but aren’t quite sure, give No Limits 2 a try before you buy.

3 – Planet Zoo

  • Release Date: September 24, 2019
  • Developer: Frontier Developments
  • Platform(s): PC

Joe Exotic gots nuthin’ on me. With Planet Zoo you put away the coasters and pull out all the soft, cuddly animals. You’ll find all the regular theme park mechanics in Planet Zoo, it is a Frontier game after all. Build the perfect enclosures to keep your visitors, and the animals themselves, happy. Will you take the righteous path and breed your animals so they can be released back into the wild, or go for maximum profits with the breed for greed mentality?

2 – Planet Coaster

  • Release Date: November 17, 2016
  • Developer: Frontier Developments
  • Platform(s): PlayStation 4, Xbox One, PC

Beautiful and flexible are two perfect words to describe Planet Coaster. Focused more on building a wonderful park for visitors to enjoy more than the management side of things, Planet Coaster gives you the tools needed to leave 90-degree paths where they belong – in the past. It’s pretty hard to lose money in Planet Coaster’s Challenge mode, so you may as well unshackle the chains and enjoy the freedom that Sandbox mode has to offer. 

1 – Roller Coaster Tycoon 3

  • Release Date: October 26, 2004
  • Developer: Frontier Developments
  • Platform(s): PC

It’s hard to believe that Roller Coaster Tycoon 3 released all the way back in 2006, and it’s even harder to believe that it is still the pinnacle of theme park simulators. RCT3 Platinum comes with the Soaked! (water park) and Wild! (safari park) expansion packs, allowing you to create the multi-park that every amusement park fan wants. RCT3 is no longer available on Steam or GOG so if you don’t already have a copy you may have to settle for the slightly older RCT2 which some will argue is the better game anyway.

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Written by
Old enough to have played retro games when they were still cutting edge, Mitch has been a gamer since the 70s. As his game-fu fades (did he ever really have any?), it is replaced with ever-stronger, and stranger, opinions. If that isn't the perfect recipe for a game reviewer, what is?

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