Hold on to your coaster cars, Nintendo fans, because with the release of Coaster Crazy Deluxe for the Wii U eShop, gaming just got a whole lot crazier….or did it? Frontier’s latest iOS port proves that despite Nintendo’s concerted efforts to simplify the process for converting indie titles to Wii U, some games are better suited to the smaller, decidedly less crazy format of mobile devices.
Coaster Crazy Deluxe follows a group of roller coaster-riding wackos — called the Crazies — all over the globe. The player’s objective is to build and create gravity-defying coasters for the crazies to enjoy on any continent they wish. Along the way items are unlocked, experience points allow players to level up and piles of cold hard cash are earned, the latter of which can be used to purchase upgrades for the coasters. When a coaster is completed, the player launches a demo ride for the Crazies, but if it‘s poorly constructed — such as a turn being too sharp or a tunnel being too close to the railing — the resulting crash sends them tumbling through the air in a harrowing cutscene of destruction.
These mechanics might sound basic, but they're engaging enough to sustain player interest. New objectives arise with each area, such as “build a coaster with at least three loops” or “achieve at least 100,000 points”, and while these challenges add to the overall gameplay, Coaster Crazy Deluxe suffers from a lack of any genuine narrative that might give players something to strive for.
All we know of the Crazies — who are comprised of a wacky police officer, an alien, a chain-breaking zombie and a host of other misfits — is that they love riding coasters, even when they crash and burn (which they do, often). Although this type of game has no real demand for an actual plot, some sort of loose objective would have definitively increased the game’s replay value.
One area of success, however, is Coaster Crazy Deluxe’s overall presentation. The team at Frontier are clearly experienced, fun-loving gamers, as evidenced by the unique settings for coaster construction (Alcatraz and The Moon being just two examples) and the colourful and quirky character design. In addition, the gameplay mechanics are intuitive and simple, but challenging enough to keep players coming back for more. Either the stylus or the analog sticks can be used to move the camera, adjust the track, or select different icons in the menu. While coaster rides are rolling, the gyro function of the GamePad allows you to adjust perspective as if the player is one of the Crazies going along for the ride.
Players looking to explore their creative side are also provided with an additional "sandbox" mode that takes place on The Moon, where there are no specific challenges except the limitations of a player's own creativity. This mode, along with the ability to share coaster creations with friends online, adds some unique gameplay elements and has the potential to be genuinely addictive.
But crazy, this ain’t. Before delving into Coaster Crazy Deluxe, players should be aware that despite a title that implies action-oriented gameplay, this is a simulation game through and through. Coasters are built using the GamePad’s stylus and touch screen, and once completed, the demo launched by the player results in a long cut scene in which the Crazies ride the coaster to determine if it will meet that area’s specifications and avoid crashing. If that doesn't sound exciting to you on paper, then it won't in reality, either.
This particular brand of gameplay that uses intricate design followed by extended viewing is inherently appropriate for small devices like tablets, phones, or perhaps…the Wii U GamePad? Also, although the game can be played on the Wii U’s portable screen, for some inexplicable reason, all of its music and sound effects are missing on the GamePad. This is truly a shame, especially when other indie games like Nano Assault Neo have demonstrated that success can be achieved on both the big screen and Wii U's unique portable controller.
Coaster Crazy Deluxe features intuitive controls and a large number of features which make it a worthy entry in the niche coaster building genre, especially at its budget price. However, its conversion to the Wii U has resulted in a slightly muddled final product, as the nature of its gameplay feels barren and almost boring on a big screen, while fully enjoying the game on the GamePad is impossible due to the puzzling lack of audio. It's a more than competent coaster builder, but Wii U owners who also possess an iOS device — a platform on which Coaster Crazy Deluxe is arguably more comfortable — would be crazy to purchase the game in this format.