A-Train

aka: Take the A-Train III
Moby ID: 822
PC-98 Specs
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Description official description

Play the part of the head of a railroad company, with the aim of creating a railroad empire, providing a successful mass transit system that will be an inspiration to the rest of the world. Another goal is to provide the impetus for a chosen city to develop. There are a number of different places to set up business each with different layouts and existing houses and businesses.

The main money earners are passenger trains, that can be scheduled to pick up passengers at the times of day when the demand is high. However, in the long term you need the city to develop. This requires setting up trains that transport resources to where they are needed. These resources are used to build houses, and other buildings, increasing the number of passengers for commuter trains.

As the city develops, new businesses will spring up, such as stadiums, high rise office blocks, and ski resorts. The player may also build own businesses, the success of which will depend on the local population, the presence of competing businesses, and even the changes of the seasons, among other factors.

The stock market is also another way of making money. The player may also watch the seasons come and go, with snow visible in winter, and fireworks displays celebrating the New Year.

Spellings

  • A列車で行こう3 - Japanese spelling

Groups +

Screenshots

Promos

Credits (DOS version)

60 People (48 developers, 12 thanks) · View all

Original Concept and Design by
  • ARTDINK
Executive Producer
Producer
Director
Assistant Director
Programming
System Engineer
Art Director
Sounds
Graphic Design
Assistant Producers
Package Design
Marketing
Programming
Project Manager
DOS Art Conversion
[ full credits ]

Reviews

Critics

Average score: 81% (based on 21 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.7 out of 5 (based on 28 ratings with 2 reviews)

A unique and heart-warming game (no, seriously!)

The Good
Ahh, the hours I used to spend playing A-Train...

This is a lovely game. It is very, very sedate. Things happen slowly, and that is good. You can sit for ages, watching the lovely pastelly isometric graphics, slowly saving money to extend another rail service off to that distant cluster of farms, checking on how your hotels are doing, dreaming about that ski-resort...

There is also a detailed stock market in the game, and more laid-back fun can be had, watching the progress of shares over several (game time) weeks, feeling excited as your shares make money, being shocked (in quite a "That was cool!" way) when a stock market crash occurs (as does happen, sometimes, both in real life and in the nice world of A-Train).

This relaxed atmosphere is further enhanced by the day/night palette shifts, the changing seasons, the trains gently running around their tracks and all of the great easter egg-type things there are to see in the game (many of which are seasonal, or otherwise time-based - birds flying south, Father Christmas flying past at...Christmas, fireworks on Summer nights). The palette turns golden-brown in Autumn/Fall, and snow falls in December! Things also happen the further you get into the game. This is a beautiful world and is loaded with cute little animations and things to see and do.

It even gets to the point where you start to look on the single pictures of the ingame advisors as real people...almost. These characters only ever say a few lines ("The market looks good today."), but you start to imagine what they're like (or maybe I'm just totally sad!) Your bank manager looks like a nice guy, but a bit tired, a bit overworked. And what does that rail construction engineer do when he gets home? How many kids does he have? Sometimes you'll find a different person at the bank, and you'll realise the manager took a couple of days off. There are public holidays (different to those in our 'real' world, as this is a Sim-world) and a multitude of other tiny details that all fit together to enhance realism and enjoyment. It's a playground for the imagination.

Sound is merely a couple of beeps and the incessant clicking of trains, uhh, clicking their way around the tracks. Music is very limited. The intro music is great, perfectly suiting the mood of the game. In-game music consists of two tracks (the laid back one and the strangely 'mad' one), both of which are very short and both of which are looped constantly. The music is very beepy AdLib stuff, and many players may dislike it. I, however, found that it added peculiarly to the game's hypnotic charms =) You also get a special Christmas jingle, at Christmas!

The Bad
Unfortunately, like most of these world-building strategy games, A-Train has a big flaw. It gets to the point where you find yourself repeating the same optimum sequence of actions, building the same optimum track layout. It becomes formulaic. This is even more evident in A-Train than in something like SimCity 2000 because A-Train even has a requirement - Something you need to do, in order to stimulate city growth. I'm not spoiling anything here, by the way, because this is even laid out for you in the manual. You have to build a specific track layout - a square, basically, with 4 train stations on it, all back-to-back with each other in a cross formation. This triggers the building of roads out of the back of the four stations, which eventually connect up in a cross. Land prices around the roads skyrocket and the building of big buildings commences. The whole conurbation grows. I hate the fact that you really have to do this to get anywhere, and get to see the larger buildings. It was way too contrived and way too formulaic and is one of the main reasons I finally stopped playing the game.

There is also a big problem with the trains you can buy. There are lots to choose from, but sadly you're only going to end up using one of them, because there is one train type that is much, much better than any of the others. It is slightly more expensive, but you can afford it, almost from the start of the game, and it just makes all other passenger trains redundant.

You also need to move 'construction materials' around, in order to build things (This is where your freight trains come in). The whole system is rather fiddly, though, and is very unclear at the start of the game. On the plus side, it's very cute seeing your freight trains loading up with those cute little grey boxes - Aww! :)

Maybe it was just my playing, but I found money was very tight in the game. It was a couple of game years before I even got out of the red, and I had to take out a few loans. The game is pretty much a traditional Maxis (this game was developed by Artdink, but published by Maxis) 'sandbox', but you can 'win' by getting a certain amount of money. However, after many, many years of gametime, and having a successful little railroad empire, I still couldn't see myself 'winning', like, ever! That's OK, though - The 'sandbox' charms far outweigh any aspirations of being filthy ritch, and it makes a change to be tight on cash, after playing many games where it's just too easy to build up ludicrous sums of money and be able to do whatever you want.

There are other minor gripes, but I think that's mainly it. The scrolling (at least, on my 286!) was awful. It's fiddly setting up routes and instructions for your trains. It's a very difficult game to get into, but soon proves itself to be rather rewarding.

The Bottom Line
A cute game, built with love, A-Train benefits from a laid-back pace you won't find in many places. It's packed with interesting things that will warm your hard, gameplayer's heart, but ultimately becomes repetitive. Still, while it lasted, I liked this one a lot. Still one of my favourites of the 'world building' strategy genre.

DOS · by xroox (3895) · 2008

Although aging now, this is still a damn fine railroad sim.

The Good
Well... it's a real sim game, which is a start. It's a railroad sim, which is always fun. And it is different enough from the other rail sims to make it worthwhile in it's own right. Pretty much everything about this game is good. Not great... but good. There are some nice touches which seperate it from the dross out there, like day/night, timetabling, resource and financial management.

The Bad
This game is actually damn good, but it just doesn't have the longevity of other games, but I'm not entirely sure why. I guess the trouble is that there is little to complain about - everything about this game is good, but no more than that. It doesn't inspire you to greater things, or conspire to keep you up all night, and when there are so many great games out there, it just doesn't hold on to you.

The Bottom Line
In many ways, you could think of this as a predecessor to Transport Tycoon. You're building up a local netowrk, rather than the nation/continent-wide constructions of Railroad Tycoon. And you get a very familiar isometric view of proceedings, which is nice. Plus, of course you get to build and run trains.

In many other ways it is quite different. There is an actual day/night schedule, and you can set the departure times of each train so as to maximise efficiency (eg: passenger trains at rush hour). You need raw materials to build in this game, which are brough in on a computer run line. Then it's up to you to move them where you (and all your little sim-type folk building their houses) actually need them.

There's also a complete financial management system (kind of similar to RR Tycoon) which allows you to dabble in the markets and deal with the taxmen. Plus you get the chance to build, own and sell (for a profit) a variety of buildings including offices, appartments, hotels, sports facilities, etc.

It may not have stood the test of time in the way that certain other games have managed, but it is still damn fine and fun to play.

DOS · by Steve Hall (329) · 2000

Discussion

Subject By Date
PlayStation version Lance Boyle (1532) Apr 1, 2010

Trivia

Construction Set

The A-Train Construction Set was released in 1992, allowing you to create your own maps or edit existing ones.

History

Some historical notes, from the manual:

A-Train was created in Japan by Artdink, and is the first game that Maxis has published that was developed outside of the company. (We have huge egos and think we're pretty good game designers, so if we publish someone else's game, it means we're really impressed.)

This game is actually Artdink's third complete version of A-Train, which was released as Take the A-Train III in Japan.

The first version of A-Train was released in Japan in April 1986 for the Fujitsu FM-series computer. It was later available for all the major home computers in Japan.

A-Train II was released in Japan in July 1988, and was published in the U.S. by Seika Corp. under the name Railroad Empire.Take the A-Train III was first released in Japan in December 1990 and since then has been a consistent top-ten seller, winning the Best Simulation of the Year Award from Login magazine (well, actually it tied for first with SimCity), and winning reader polls as their favorite simulation game.

Take the A-Train III, under the name A-Train (we dropped the 3 since there was never a 1 or 2 released in this country), is now published by Maxis.

Secrets

From the manual:

Depending on the map, and what you've had for dinner, there are some interesting items in the skies. During the night of December 24, Santa Claus is flying across the map. UFOs may appear on summer nights, and there are firework shows on Saturday nights in August at the amusement parks.

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Identifiers +

  • MobyGames ID: 822
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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by xroox.

Wii added by Michael Cassidy. Amiga added by Rebound Boy. Macintosh added by Terok Nor. PC-98, TurboGrafx CD added by Unicorn Lynx. Sharp X68000 added by j.raido 【雷堂嬢太朗】.

Additional contributors: Trixter, Terok Nor, Unicorn Lynx, Patrick Bregger.

Game added February 4, 2000. Last modified February 5, 2024.