Roller Coaster is a platform-based game which contains some strategy and puzzle elements. Uniquely it holds the claim of being the first video game to ever simulate amusement rides.
Roller Coaster was developed by S. Brocklehurst and was, for a time, one of the most popular games for the ZX Spectrum.
The game takes place in and around an amusement park after closing-time. The player takes control of a protagonist who sneaks into the amusement park after both staff and customers have left. The goal is to collect money — in the form of little money bags — which have been dropped by excited and clumsy members of the public throughout the day. It appears that the protagonist is a trespasser and a thief, although neither his identity nor his motives are elaborated on further.
n order to complete the game, the player must collect every money bag which is strewn around the city-sized amusement park; even the money bags placed on precarious perches and in the middle of rides. In order to do this, gambles and risks will have to be taken. When riding an attraction, timing your jumps carefully is essential to survival and completing the game.
The player's information bar is at the bottom of the screen. It reveals the player's score, which is the same as the amount of money collected. Each money bag retrieved earns you £100; this is displayed as 100 points and not £100.
The information bar also reveals the previous high score for any other game played during the session (since the game was last loaded up, that is.) This is useful since you will likely die often and have to replay the game from the start; you may want to compare your present score to previous games you have played in order to determine your progress in comparison.
There is also a bar which indicates the health of the character, which informs the player if something is harming the protagonist. This may be caused by, for example, standing on an electric rail. When the character is perfectly healthy the bar is simply empty and black; however if the protagonist is being harmed, a tombstone with the word "RIP" will begin to appear (accompanied by a high-pitch squeaking noise). Quick action by escaping the danger may result in a partial and incomplete tombstone, in which case the character will live. However once the tombstone is complete, the character's health is utterly depleted and the character dies.
Apart from having his health be depleted until death, the character can also be killed instantaneously by some dangers. This can be caused by numerous careless acts such as jumping from a great height, getting skewered by an erratic turnstile, or falling into water (despite his numerous athletic abilities, it appears the protagonist cannot swim and drowns when falling into water.) Falling a distance from a height will probably get you killed more often than any other danger.
The player has ten lives. Once the protagonist has died ten times, the player loses and the game is over.
What made the game more difficult was the lack of a scrolling screen; different screens are stationary and open up to the player as you enter them, unlike a side-scroller. In this way the player never knows what is around the corner until the last second. The game is made up of a total of sixty screens.
Source: Wikipedia, "Roller Coaster (video game)", available under the CC-BY-SA License.