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A-Train

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Released: 1992

Genre: Strategy

Format reviewed: Amiga 500

Publisher: Ocean

Developer: Artdink

Submitted by: Clarance Frank

Originally the third of a series of Japanese games developed by Artdink called ‘Take the A-Train’, but renamed simply ‘A-Train’ for its Western release. It’s a cross between Sim-City and Railroad Tycoon, with, put simply, the aim being to create a rail network which will stimulate the local economy, which will in turn allow the game map to develop building growth.

Different train types can be chosen, all having different strengths and weaknesses. Various buildings can be purchased and built, creating different stresses on your rail system, which has to be expanded, funds allowing, to meet these new demands.

A simple stock market exists in which the player can invest in, but beware, as prices can go down as well as up…, and the economy will regularly stagnate and go into recession as well as grow. The state of the economy will also affect other factors in the game, so new track growth will have to be planned wisely to avoid bankruptcy.

The presentation is great, with slick pop up menus with information from your various advisors appearing form time to time, and a clear menu of icons to access the functions within the game. The graphics are nice enough, although the inability to spin the game map around on itself means things can become cluttered on screen as your town develops. The sound consists of a series of clicks which represent movement of your trains, and a selection of hypnotic tunes which change form time to time. A nice feature is a day-night cycle, and the changing of the seasons on the game map, which gives a good sense of time passing.

Quite a deep strategy game, which takes time to understand fully, but the excellent manual goes a good way to helping the new player grasp the basics, and the solid game mechanics start to make sense after a while. There are six scenarios to play through, and the satisfaction gained from developing a large profitable system is good reward for the time that needs to be put into A-Train.