It's summer, so that can only mean one thing: time to pile into the family truckster and head to the nearest theme park, where you stand for hours, shoulder to gut with a sea of humanity to ride the newest coaster, spend a year's income on overpriced junk food and return home, lighter of wallet and sporting a third-degree sunburn. Ah, tradition!
Once upon a time, theme parks were much more modestly scaled affairs, with attractions akin to carnival rides, and where the thrill of working electric lights and coasters puttering along at tortoise speed was mind-blowing entertainment. This kind of nostalgia is the reason behind the Vintage Pack for Frontier's Planet Coaster. Along with the most recent (free) update, the new pack allows virtual park designers to blast to the past and create "olde fashioned" - even Victorian - amusement parks along the lines of England's Blackpool or the State Fair in anywhere in America's heartland circa 1950.
For anyone unfamiliar, Planet Coaster is the spiritual successor to the incredibly popular Rollercoaster Tycoon games, brought into the 21st century with high-quality graphics, lighting and sound, and supported by a constant stream of content updates and paid DLC. With a vast and creative community of modders on Steam and a huge selection of user-made parks, rides, and objects, Planet Coaster is really the ultimate theme park sim. It can be as hardcore or casual as the player prefers, too, with all the stats, financial challenges, and under-the-hood physics there for the perusing.
The Vintage Pack isn't huge, adding a fairly modest number of attractions, two pre-built coasters, and a selection of themed building and scenery elements. Some of the attractions include those carnival staples, like the stand-up centrifuge and the "Loop Da Loop," dating back to the 1930s. Coasters include the creaky wooden coaster Zephyrus (circa 1920) and Aces Sky, which merges a trackless bobsled-type ride with a coaster. The scenic elements and new kiosks include such fairground familiars as popcorn machines and even a "Zoltan" fortune telling booth. Add the trapeze act and a roving barbershop quartet, and you can almost smell the sawdust on the ground.
Although it could be more robust, whether you build a standalone old-timey park or simply add a nostalgic area to a modern megapark, the Vintage Pack adds useful and well-designed elements to the game. Coupled with the free content update - which also includes a historic coaster from England - Planet Coaster just keeps getting better all the time.