Abandonware

A-Train

Name: A-Train
Genre: Simulation
Designer: Tatsuo Nagahama
Developer: ArtDink
Publisher: Maxis
Copyright: ArtDink
Year: 1992

Rating: 9.0

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Review - Wikipedia

A-Train is a 1992 computer game published by Maxis. In the game the player is in charge of a railway company. There are no rival companies, the player controls the only one in the city and the game is fairly open-ended.

There are two types of transport that the player's company can take: passengers or building materials. The former is more likely to be profitable, but building materials allow the city to grow.

Wherever the building materials are delivered, they can be taken and used to contruct buildings for the city. These start with houses, but eventually, as an area grows, roads, and shops and other buildings are built. These can provide extra revenue for a passenger service, but also allowing the city to develop and grow can be seen as a goal in itself.

As well as the buildings built by the computer, in response to the materials being present, the player can construct their own buildings, such as ski resorts and hotels, and make profits from them if the conditions are right.

The game was tremendously popular in Japan, thus motivating Maxis to license it for US distribution. Unfortunately for Maxis, aside from those spurred to purchase the game based on Maxis' then-stellar reputation (fresh from the successes of the early SimCity games), very few copies were purchased in the US. Some supsect that US gamers were not interested in the level of detail and micro-management that captivated the Japanese audience. The fact that it is a game about managing a train system cannot be the reason it sold poorly, as Microprose's Railroad Tycoon remains one of the bestselling game series of all time in the US. Even the release of an add-on pack for the game failed to stir up any real support amongst the gaming community. The game was the first major failure from Maxis.

A-Train for DOS and Amiga was based on Artdink's AIII, the third game in the series. In spite of the PC version's commercial failure in the US, Maxis later released a Playstation version in 1996, based on Artdink's AIV: Evolution Global. The Playstation was a relatively new platform at that point and the game suffered many limitations, such as requiring an entire memory card (expensive at the time) to store a single map. Like the PC version, it proved unsuccessful.

In later years, development of the series continued on both console and PC platforms. A5, released for Playstation and PC in 1997, introduced a totally 3D environment. A6, the first game in the series for Playstation 2, was released in Japan in 2000 and later translated to English and released in Europe as A6: A-Train 6 by Midas Interactive Entertainment in 2004. A Ressha de Gyoukou 2001, a new version of A6 with online support, was released for PS2 in 2001 and followed by several expansion packs.

The most recent game of the series, A7, was released in 2005 for Windows-based PCs in Japanese only. A7 is advertised as an homage to the 10th anniversary of AIV and uses a similar isometric interface, instead of the open 3D interface of A5 and A6.

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