Disney's Coaster

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Paul Drabek
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Disney's Coaster

Post by Paul Drabek » Tue Jan 06, 2015 10:05 pm

I got my first taste of virtual coaster design back in 1983 when EPCOT first opened. In the Communicore Pavilion there were what is now a really simple touch screen computer where you could design a coaster and "ride" it. You had a very limited track selection to work with. I believe there was a drop, loop. corkscrew, hill and helix. You could arrange them in whatever limited combinations might work (if there wasn't enough speed the simulator would not let you place the track there) and then when you were done selecting them the computer would let you ride your wire frame coaster creation. Below is a video of this system that I found on Youtube.



I was 11 at the time and was completely blown away by this software. I think I played every conceivable variation on the coaster design and watched the ride over and over again (we visited when the park was dead which was nice). When I left after that trip I wanted some software to design coasters badly. Unfortunately I didn't get that software for another 12 years. That software was Disney's Coaster. I stumbled into a copy in a bargain bin of the software store in West Dundee, IL in 1994 right after graduating college. I purchased Coaster for $5.99 and that was the biggest bang for my buck that I ever got out of a game. Myself along with my two brothers must have played that copy of (and a few other copies that I made for them) Disney's Coaster each over 1,000 hours building insane rides that would only work inside of a computer.

So what is Disney's Coaster?
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I think Disney saw kids and adults spending way too much time designing their own rides at EPCOT and decided to make a little money off of it as PC's began exploding into the home market in the 1990's. Coaster is a coaster design software with a goal. You want to create the ultimate coaster and get a high score doing it. High score? How do you get a high score by building a coaster? You have to please a panel of judges who "ride" your creation and then give it a ranking.
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The design part of the software was pretty simple. You have a grid area that limited how big you really could go (this software and its limitations caused Ole Lange to call his coaster creation software "No Limits" as he did not want any) but within it you could place sections of tracks. You had lifts, straightaways, helices , circular loops, clothoid loops and corkscrews to choose from. With the straightaways and turns you could bank the track and then modify its up and down angle. A very simple structure was automatically created for you and within those limits you were left to play and build as much as you wanted to.
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Oh pleasing the judges was kind of fun because different judges looked for different things like many coaster enthusiasts in real life. One liked airtime, one liked loops, one liked speed and I forget what the others looked for. At the end of your coasters run (BTW it gave you a simple accelerometer to watch while you rode it) the judges would tally up your score and post it to the big high score list on the game. Of course my brothers and I started trying to make the best rides and really worked out some insane high scoring coasters (20+ loops and other things)

Back in 1994 Coaster was insane fun for those who found a copy of it (I still have it on a 3.5 inch diskette with operating manual somewhere...I wonder how much it would go for on ebay) and I played the shit out of it. Eventually a few years later Roller Coaster Tycoon came out and we played that to death and then RCT 2 and then No Limits and now No Limits 2 but it all began with a simulator at EPCOT and a little piece of Disney software called Coaster.

The reason this comes up today is I found that there is a huge archive of playable MS-DOS (that is pre-windows text based operating system to you who have only known graphical operating systems) games at Archive.org. I browsed through it and had more than a few flashbacks to old games I played back in the day and then I stumbled on Disney's Coaster. It is totally playable and really fun.

Give Disney's Coaster a play here and let me know how you score.

Have Fun

Paul
Life is short....have fun!

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