A simple and intriguing game! The A-Train series has been published since 1985, and was the first game of its kind! It inspired Maxis to implement the isometric perspective in SimCity 2000! It has been a very long time since A-Train received a US release, since A-Train is developed by Artdink in Japan. The most well-known US release was published by Maxis in 1992. A-Train has a very large learning curve, but when you accomplish the basics through repetition. It can be a rewarding experience! As with any simulation management game, each one varies in difficulty and has to be approached with a clear mindset. No references can be made, or confusion is inevitable! A-Train 8 has simple mechanics in theory, but can have very complex behavior at times with certain situations.
First, you must build a simple passenger line from point A to point B. This system can be built anywhere on the map (unless you are trying to accomplish a scenario). Purchase a basic commuter train and place it at any section of track that is straight. Let the train make full stops at each station (which will be done automatically, unless you command it a specific route). When this occurs, the passenger line will attract people and businesses to your railroad.
Now that you have people swarming to you transportation services, they need materials to build houses and offices. Next, you will build a “materials factory” near your passenger line. You can choose the size of the factory, but larger the building does not produce any faster or better. Larger factories just have more lot space for storage. Materials factories produce “materials” which are used to build structures and houses for you town. Tip: material factories only produce materials on weekdays; Saturday and Sundays they are closed.
You can combine passenger and freight systems together on 1 rail system, but I see at times they are more efficient if you separate them (costs more money to build extra track though). Build a separate freight line to deliver the newly produced materials. Build another station next to the material factory and one of the passenger stations (for now, point A station we previously built), then build the new rail towards point B. At point B build a “materials depot” anywhere near the station. This is where the newly developed materials will be stored for you citizens to use.
Once all these basic systems are in place, your town will now start to developed and eventually turn into a giant metropolis! You can help further the growth and development of your city by purchasing company owned buildings and structures; when placed properly can earn you extra money. If you continually build more passenger stations around your small town, it will attract more and more people and businesses. Larger the rail system, the more volume of passengers it can handle.
And that is the basic mechanics of A-Train! If you need more information on how to play, I found a tutorial at their website: http://www.railwaysims.com/support
Dated graphics, but not the worst. It accomplishes more in gameplay than visuals. Some mechanics need detailed explaining, but once you learn how they function then it makes sense. Map editor is a great addition, custom scenarios and maps make for endless replay value.
Posted: December 22nd, 2013