Many people have heard of SimCity, but city-building simulators existed in one form or another before Maxis’ brainchild appeared in 1989. For example, the Japanese studio Artdink has been responsible for the A-Train series (known as A Ressha de Ikou in Japan) for 35 years, offering players the opportunity to develop the transportation arteries of cities and turn backwater villages into megacities. The series doesn’t often look to the West, but for the recent A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism made an exception. This is a unique opportunity to experience Japan’s colorful transportation system. In addition, the game is available not only on Steam, but also on the Nintendo Switch.
How exciting the game from the old-timers of the genre turned out to be, let’s take a look at it in our review. You won’t believe it, but it’s really enjoyable to play in 2023.
- Developer: ARTDINK
- Publisher: KOMODO
- Steam release date: December 8, 2023
One of the main distinguishing features of the simulator is the absence of a separate customary campaign mode. Instead, players are given the opportunity to run several maps generated by the developers, on which it is necessary to fulfill certain tasks. For example, increase the total number of city residents or collect a huge number of tourists. All these conditions must be met with the help of a logical and consistent organization of the processes of the railway station. If you see a large village on the outskirts of a location without a built railroad, you should think about possible options for laying railroad tracks to a large city or an important tourist attraction.
The first two maps make it really easy to do this. A tutorial system is implemented in them, where you are told about the game mechanics and all the possibilities one by one. Unfortunately, after completing the tasks on the locations there are no significant goals that the player could strive to achieve, so it becomes uninteresting to develop the railroad transportation system. It’s easier to switch to a new location and test yourself in new conditions and with new additional inputs.
In other words: A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism offers the player different scenarios with unique starting conditions and end goals. For example, raising ticket sales to several billion or increasing the length of railroad tracks to dozens of kilometers. There are also more complex conditions that will require the user to meet various economic parameters.
Before starting the map, the player has a choice of three difficulty levels, which are characterized by different starting opportunities. The initial level offers more starting money and increased game time for the development of railroad tracks. If all scenarios are explored, you can use the constructor mode to create your own map or download a custom one from the network.
The game is not limited to two parameters. Employee satisfaction, public transportation utilization rate, bank and shareholder confidence, capital, and a few other additional parameters are taken into account that really complicate the gameplay. Try to build a successful railroad system with limited cash reserves and reduced interest from tourism! You’ll have to take into account many parameters and think more precisely about your future actions, otherwise it won’t be difficult to ruin the railroad company.
A distinctive feature of the simulator was a direct interaction with the game world, rather than working with parameters, so on the development of railroad tracks the player is given a lot of functions. In a special section open one of the proposed stations, choose the initial length of the railroad and the number of tracks and set in a suitable place. You will have to take into account many factors, because you can not just take and, for example, demolish a residential neighborhood. This will affect not only the local residents, but also the company’s future profits, so it is advisable to use only empty areas or buy out agricultural land.
Once the station is set up, you will have to spend a long time working on the connections between other objects, thinking about train movements and selecting departure and arrival stations. This will require not only laying the tracks through each cell yourself, but also setting train schedules and taking into account the topography and built-up areas of the city.
In addition to the usual railroad transportation, you can even lay a subway and engage in cargo transportation. It is enough to purchase the appropriate locomotives and take into account the current situation on the tracks. To expand the transport accessibility of the player is allowed to arrange and bus routes. We buy several buses, lay an asphalted road and install a public transportation stop in the right place. In general, there are a lot of possibilities.
The player can also buy shares on the stock exchange, work with the bank, buy and sell land, and build apartments. These functions are aimed at generating additional profit from outside activities, so they are very useful at high levels of complexity, where there is a lack of money.
In addition, the city is constantly developing. With a large flow of tourists in large cities appear high-rise buildings, constantly come notifications about the construction of new buildings, and the city is visibly transforming before your eyes. The main thing is to understand all the mechanics.
We should also mention the good graphics by the standards of the genre. Of course, it is far from the level of City: Skylines and Tropico 5, but for the classics the game looks decent. And most importantly, it’s colorful. Buildings and nature are very accurately rendered, and cars drive along the roads. There is also a full-fledged change of day and night – in the dark time of the day the light in the windows lights up, and in the morning it goes out.
A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism is captivating from the first minutes, it’s very hard to tear yourself away from it: you start to feel a fierce desire to build up the whole virtual city as soon as possible. Yes, there are some shortcomings related to the inconvenience of management and tracking. Given the narrow focus of the genre, the game is unlikely to become a hit with a million audience, but fans of the genre should not miss it!
- Fun cast of characters
- Solid designed Urban Development Simulator
- Fun buildings to build
- Slow pacing/too much time in scenarios
- So many graphs and charts
- Lag and long loading times