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It’s become extremely difficult these past few years not only to find an RCT3 no CD crack but to find one that actually works with one’s own operating system and particular game installation. Unfortunately CD’s don’t last forever and no matter how careful we may be putting them into and taking them out of our DVD drives, simply handling the CD will eventually cause it to become worn and damaged to the extent we’re no longer able to play our game.

Many community members believe the solution to this is a downloaded version of RCT3. However, when we make any alterations on our PC to our RCT3 installation that’s originated as a download, some gamers have a problem when they connect to the internet with downloaded game suppliers overwriting the changes we’ve made to our files on our own PC. After this has happened a few times one would feel there is little point in creating a folder called Custom inside your Themed folder and later finding out that the next time you play your game that it’s called home and the company from where you bought your RCT3 license has deleted your Custom folder.

Another problem with downloaded versions of CD games is that the folder structure turns out to be slightly different. For example, one well-known RCT3 download does not install any Options.txt folder that we can edit. The folder structure of some downloaded versions of RCT3 may also make it difficult to install custom content.

Regardless of what individual companies many feel about it we, as consumers, are entitled to make one backup of any application for which we buy a license, whether that application is on disk or whether it originated as a download. Should we opt into a virtual disk player we’ll need to emulate our RCT3 installation disk in a format that can be played on the emulator’s virtual disk drive. Put simply that means we need to make a copy of our installation disk so the emulator can play it for us in a format that it understands. Viewed from a legal standpoint, such an emulation will count as one backup copy.

How does an emulator work?

First we need to launch the emulator and get it to make a copy of our installation CD. RCT3 does not need to be launched while we do this. Once our emulator has made this copy we can mount it on the virtual drive created by the emulator. Depending on your emulator you may need to direct it to create a virtual drive. You may also need to specifically mount your emulated RCT3 CD on the virtual drive. After that we can launch our game through the emulator as if we’ve got the physical CD in our PC’s DVD drive. For those of us who play our game frequently this will save all sorts of wear on our original RCT3 disc.

While we're playing our game the emulator reads the information logically from our disk image rather than physically from an actual disk, so our game will respond more quickly when it’s played on a virtual disk.

Exactly as if we’re playing our game with the actual RCT3 CD, emulated gameplay won’t change any of the files it accesses on our computer. All our files will still be in their familiar places, we can make adjustments to Options.txt, cheats can still be used, keyboard input & RCT3 mouse controls will still be useful, and we’ll be able to save our parks, coasters, structures, and campaign progress as we ordinarily do.

Where do we find an emulator?

For years Gizmo’s Freeware website has stood alone as the one website that internet browsers may rely upon to see if any application comes in a suitable free version prior to our going off somewhere to find and pay for licensed software. Gizmo’s website’s been around for some twenty years and their site visitors can’t help but be impressed with Gizmo’s careful choice and analytical descriptions of any of the software that he lists there. You can find search results for CD emulators on Gizmo’s website here:

  Gizmo's Freeware

Should you not like any of Gizmo's choices you may alternatively type “free disk emulator” or “best free disk emulator” into a Google search, review the results that display, and follow the links there.

Emulating your Disk

There is no one-size-fits-all method of emulating a disk. Essentially you’ll need to follow the instructions that come with the emulator of your choice. You should be aware, however, that not every RCT3 installation CD can be emulated.

Rarely it may turn out that your emulator won’t be able to get around the anti-copy feature of your installation disk. Some licensed versions of emulators contain dozens of anti-copy protection scripts along with the ability to scan the CD and determine which copy protection has been used on it. Such an emulator will pretty much guarantee you'll never have this problem.

Another difficulty is that although you can launch and play your game with your installation CD, because emulators read disks differently from the way our DVD laser lens reads it, the emulator may find something on the disk that’s preventing a successful emulation. If you find that you’re unable to emulate your own RCT3 installation CD we recommend that you buy another and attempt to emulate your new RCT3 disc.

If your existing RCT3 installation CD wears out or becomes damaged you’ll need to replace it eventually so buying another installation CD based on choice rather than on circumstances shouldn’t be seen as an unnecessary expense. Some individuals have found that their emulator can actually install RCT3 so without the need to keep a physical installation CD on hand you will find that RCT3 Platinum or Deluxe installation CD’s are available very reasonably priced these days on eBay or Amazon.

Whether buying for the first time or replacing your RCT3 installation CD we recommend always buying Platinum or Deluxe. In addition to being convenient to install, those versions come with all the patches and updates as released by Atari.

We're confident that reading this article will arm you with enough information so that you may make an informed choice about disk emulation and virtual gaming.