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A-Train (series)

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A-Train (A列車で行こう Ē Ressha de Ikō?, lit. Let's Take the A-Train) is a series of Arcade train simulation video games, originally developed and published by Japanese game developer Artdink in Japan. The first game in the series was published in 1985.[1] The first release in the United States was Take the A-Train II, published in 1989 by the Seika Corporation under the title Railroad Empire. However, the most well known U.S. release is Take the A-Train III, published in 1992 by Maxis as simply A-Train.

Take the A-Train III (known internationally as "A-Train") is the 1992 computer game, and the third game in the A-Train series. It was originally developed and published by Japanese game developer Artdink for Japan, and was later published by Maxis for the United States.

Overview

The game places players in command of a railway company. There are no rival companies; the player controls the only one in the city and the game as a result is fairly open-ended. A-Train III is the first game in the series to use of near-isometric dimetric projection to present the city, similar to Maxis' SimCity 2000. 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 construct 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.

Artdink ported the A-Train III along with the editor to Windows 95, and published both titles as a package as the 3rd ARTDINK BEST CHOICE title in Japan.

Editor

A.III. MAP CONSTRUCTION, known internationally as A-Train Construction Set, is an editor that can change existing saved games, or to build landscapes from scratch. It comes with 6 sample maps. Maxis also published A-Train Construction Set with A-Train as a single package in Europe, without the Ocean Software label.

Maxis distribution and ports

The game was tremendously popular in Japan,[1] thus motivating Maxis to license it for US distribution as A-Train, available for DOS, Macintosh and Amiga platforms. It was released in October, 1992, though it sold poorly. 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.[citation needed]

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.

Reception

The game was reviewed in 1992 in Dragon #187 by Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk Lesser in "The Role of Computers" column. The reviewers gave the game 4 out of 5 stars.[2]

A-Train 7

A-Train 7 is a railroad simulation for PC platform. It is the successor of A-Train 6. Marketed as the 20th anniversary title for the A-Train series, it revives the urban development game play that had been missing since A-Train 5.

Expansions

Train, Map, Diagram construction expansions were separately released. Each expansion is sold separately, or all 3 bundled with the basic game. Train construction adds the ability to build custom trains, and included 62 pre-built real-life trains. Map construction adds the ability to build custom maps and terrains, and included pre-built cities Tokyo, Yokohama, Nagoya, Kyoto, Osaka, Kobe.

Diagram construction adds the ability to extensively customize train schedules, and included 4 pre-built train types. A7 Bench Mark Test is a benchmarking program based on A-Train 7, available separately on the official site.

Taiwanese version

The international Chinese versions, released by Unalis Corporation, include postcards. In addition, the 'pure white limited edition' (純白夢幻限定版), available in 7-Eleven, includes 10 postcards of Taiwan and Japan railroad scenes, and A-Train 20th Anniversary clipboard.

A-Train HX

</noinclude> A-Train HX (A列車で行こうHXA Ressha de Ikou HX?) is a railroad simulation for the Xbox 360 and Windows. It is the latest installment of the A-Train series, supporting high definition graphics (720p resolution) and Xbox Live support for uploading and downloading maps and leaderboards. It is also the first title published by Artdink under the A-Train name on the Japanese market.

Gameplay

The gameplay is similar to A-Train 7, but it has a full 3D view that was previously used in A-Train The 21st Century. However, it comes with map editor as a standard feature. Custom maps can be shared through Xbox Live. Additional Xbox Live features includes leaderboards which contain "Total Capital", "Population" and "Time to 1 Trillion Yen" categories for each map. The Xbox Live features can be used with an Xbox Live Silver account.

Artdink offered over 150 types of trains for sale in Xbox Live Marketplace, based on real-life Japanese trains. The game itself comes with the following trains designed by Artdink: AR3 (Commuter), AR4 (Express), AR5 (LimitedExpress), AR7 (LimitedExpress), ARX (LimitedExpress), U-Shape (Subway), DC4 (Cargo), EC6 (CargoExpress), 186Exp (SuperExpress), Linear (SuperExpress). Each additional train costs 50 Microsoft Points.

Achievement points features are also supported.

Microsoft Windows version

The Windows port of the A-Train HX includes all the train types from A-Train HX (including Xbox Live Marketplace trains), plus new East Japan Railway Company trains (12 trains), Artdink trains (AR8), Europe trains (14 trains), for a total of 200 trains. There are 10 maps in the game.

Marketing

Before the release of Taiwan version, publisher TTIME Technology held a paper train model contest for winning the game.[3]

Reception

Eurogamer reported that they liked the music in A-Train HX, but concluded that "A-Train HX is badly designed, poorly presented, overly complicated and utterly tedious" giving it a score of just 2/10.[4]

Official Xbox 360 Magazine gave it a slightly better score of 3/10, however they still called it "The most confusing train wreck of a game ever".[5]

See also

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 Kevin Gifford (02/18/2009). Take the A-Train To Your DS. 1UP News. 1UP.com. Retrieved on 2009-03-14.
  2. Lesser, Hartley, Patricia, and Kirk (November 1992). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (187): 59–64. 
  3. 鐵道紙模型比賽圓滿落幕!
  4. Gibson, Ellie (2008-06-18). A-Train HX (Xbox 360). Eurogamer. Retrieved on 2008-12-09.
  5. http://www.oxm.co.uk/game.php?id=9965

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