Sometimes games show up on my desk that I don’t think I’d have jumped for myself. Hakuoki on mobile, for instance, came up awhile ago – it’s an otome game, which is a visual novel meant for girls. I’m not a girl, the game’s not meant for me, I still played it and gave it a Yay rating because it’s good at what it does. That’s what reviewing is all about, after all. With that in mind, today we’re looking at A-Train 3D: City Simulator, a mind-blowingly complex public transit simulation that is most certainly not intended for me…but that still does what it does well.
I can’t really go into A-Train without mentioning that I’m not especially good at it. This didn’t really come as a surprise, as it’s not a game that’s meant for me. I doubt we could have found someone on Popzara’s staff who was part of the intended audience for A-Train, actually. Basically, you have to be really dedicated to the idea of transport system simulations to get into this one. That’s not the most common trait.
If you are, though: congratulations, we’ve found your Nirvana! A-Train allows you to take practically full control of a transportation enterprise. If you’ve ever wanted to make the trains run on time, this is the game that lets you do it. You can manage rail lines, bus scheduling, and of course page upon page of economic spreadsheets that you’ll need to study in depth before making any moves. That’s only barely scratching the tiniest molecules off the surface, of course; this is the most hardcore of hardcore games.
The majority of the game’s content takes place in a long list of scenario missions, though there’s also a map generator if you just can’t get enough. The scenarios typically involve making more money or using increased access to effective public transportation to improve the surrounding community. Sometimes you have to slay a dragon or two, and there’s also the chance that the Demon God-King will show up and start wrecking the town…nah, none of that’s true, just checking to see if you’re still paying attention.
Here’s where I’d normally talk about aesthetics, but if you’re interested in a hardcore transport industry simulator you could probably care less. For what it’s worth, A-Train’s a very nice looking game, by 3DS standards, bringing to mind earlier SimCity games and the like. There’s a fair amount of anime-style art as well, though I wouldn’t expect much in the way of train fanservice.
A-Train 3D: City Simulator was an interesting choice for localization because, at least in the West, the sort of itch this kind of game scratches is found on PC. As it stands, playing something like this on 3DS is a bizarre experience that’s only going to appeal to a certain few. For that certain few, though, it’ll likely be one of the best games they’ve ever played; it’s remarkably deep, offering layer upon layer of complexity for players willing to grab a shovel and start digging. A game that can do one thing so well is certainly worthy of a recommendation.