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American cover art of Take the A-Train III, localized as A-Train
|Genre(s)||Vehicle Simulation Game|
A-Train (A列車で行こう Ē Ressha de Ikō, lit. Let's Take the A-Train) is a series of train simulation video games that were originally developed and published by Japanese game developer Artdink in Japan. The first game in the series was published in 1985. The first release in the United States was Take the A-Train II, published in 1988 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.
The first iteration of the A-Train series was released in December 1985 for the FM-7, NEC PC-8801, NEC PC-9801, X1 Turbo, MZ-2500, Famicom and MSX2. A Windows 95/98 port followed in April 2000.
Take the A-Train III (known internationally as A-Train) is 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. It was originally released in December 1990 for the NEC PC-9801, FM Towns Marty, Sharp X68000, and PC Engine (TurboGrafx-16). The US version was released in October 1992 on DOS and Amiga. Later, the Japanese version was re-released in March 2000 for Windows 95 and 98. 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.
The game puts players in command of a railway company. There are no rival companies; the player controls the only one in the city and the game is resultingly fairly open-ended. A-Train III is the first game in the series to make use of near-isometric dimetric projection to present the city, similar to Maxis's later 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.
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.
The game was tremendously popular in Japan, 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.
|Reception (A-Train III / A-Train)|
Computer Gaming World's reviewer stated in 1992 that while he enjoyed the financial and management aspects of A-Train, "many people will miss out on a fine program because of a steeply graded learning curve". 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. In 1993 the game received a Codie Award from the Software Publishing Association for Best Strategy Program. A-Train's isometric, tile-based graphics and animated elements inspired the visual style Maxis went on to adopt for Simcity 2000 in 1993.
In 1994, PC Gamer UK named A-Train III the 46th best computer game of all time. The editors wrote, "Fascinating, absorbing and now quite cheap, A-Train is worth a place in any games collection — and don't be put off by the subject matter. It's brilliant fun."
A Ressha de Ikou MD (Ａ列車で行こうＭＤ, "MD A-Train") is a simulation game involving the construction of a railroad in order to boost the city's mass transit system. The game was released to an exclusively Japanese market; with no release ever being attempted for the North American or European markets.
The player must use the resources at hand to build a railroad connecting the two ends of a map in each scenario. A train can be controlled throughout the day (05:00-17:00) while building new tracks and stations. Nighttime activities (17:00-05:00) involve changing train schedules to better suit the needs of the player's growing mass transportation hub. New developments will spring up around the tracks and stations. This permits the player to increase the amount of money that can earn; resulting in the increased ability to build railroad tracks and stations for the growing city. Five scenarios offer a tutorial mode for first-time players, an extremely hard scenario for veterans, and three more scenarios for players in between the two extremes in difficulty levels. Players can play using speeds that range from slow to normal to fast.
Released in December 1993 for the NEC PC-9801, FM Towns Marty, Windows 3.1 and Windows 95. It was later re-released on March 17, 2000, for Windows 95 and 98 under the title A-Train 4 15th Anniversary, and again on March 26, 2004 under the name A-Train 4 XP, this time including support for Windows 2000 and XP. Related versions include the Japan-only console launch title release AIV: Evolution in December 1994 for the PS1 and AIV: Evolution Global (released under the title A-Train in North America), also for the PS1, and re-released in January 2007 for the PSP and PS3 and AIV Network$ (known as C.E.O. in North America) in 1995 for MS-DOS and Windows 3.1. Also released in North America was the "A Train Evolution Pack", which included the PlayStation version of AIV: Evolution Global, a PlayStation Mouse, an A Train mousepad, and a PlayStation memory card.
On release, Famitsu PS scored the Japanese PlayStation version of AIV: Evolution a 27 out of 40. Five months later, Famitsu magazine's Reader Cross Review gave it a 9 out of 10, and the following week Famitsu scored it a 31 out of 40. The four reviewers of Electronic Gaming Monthly were divided about the PlayStation version of AIV: Evolution Global; Andrew Baran and Mark Lefebvre described it as an addictive and pleasantly time-consuming simulation, while Mike Desmond and Sushi-X felt it to be dull compared to most simulation games, especially other Maxis titles. They scored it 28 out of 40 (average 7 out of 10). Like Desmond and Sushi-X, GamePro felt the game "just doesn't roll with the same FunFactor of other sim games." Next Generation said it was "a quality management title. Unlikely to set the world aflame, however."
Released in December 1996 for Windows 95. This was first A-Train game to use 3D graphics based on the PowerVR game engine, and also the first to be numbered under the Arabic numeral system instead of the Roman numeral system as were the previous 4 games. It was re-released in December 1997, this time including support for the DirectX and Direct3D APIs for the Windows release, and at the same time saw its debut on the PS1. The PS1 version was re-released in April 2007 for the PSP and PS3.
Released in May 2001 for the PS2. An improvement over A-Train 6, the game and its dependencies can be installed and stored in the PlayStation 2 Expansion Bay. Also, for the first time, people were featured in the game. An expansion pack was released in 2002, and continues to boast a strong fan base as of 2011.
A-Train The 21st Century
Released on the DoCoMo 504i/505i/506i/900 mobile phones as a service planning game and distributed by Hudson Soft. Players had to pay a monthly fee to access the game. The game is now no longer available as of March 2012.
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. It was released on June 26, 2005 for Windows XP and Vista. Several expansion packs were released for the game.
A-Train HX (A列車で行こうHX A Ressha de Ikou HX) is a railroad simulation for the Xbox 360 and Windows. It was released on December 21, 2006, 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.
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). Before the release of Taiwan version, publisher TTIME Technology held a paper train model contest for winning the game.
|Reception (Xbox 360)|
Eurogamer reported that they liked the music in A-Train HX, but concluded that "A-Train HX is badly designed, poorly presented, overcomplicated and utterly tedious", giving it a score of just 2/10. 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".
A-Train 9 was released on February 11, 2010 in Japan, and on March 15, 2012 worldwide by UIG Entertainment under the names The Train Giant in English and Der Bahn Gigant in German. It is compatible with Windows XP, Vista and 7, and is also compatible with the said 64-bit versions. Two Japan-only building kits were released, the first on October 8, 2010 and the second on December 23, 2010. The Japan version also includes a 3D patch costing ¥1050 that can be played using 3D glasses, and the German version includes an unofficial patch that adds 200 trains to the game on top of the existing 11 trains. A-Train 9 includes buses and trucks, grouped by distances they travel and the work they manage (e.g. intercity, local, heavy goods, etc.), power plants, Japanese castles and more authentic-looking Japanese buildings.
On December 7, 2012, A-Train 9 Version 2.0: Professional Edition was released in Japan, supporting Windows XP, Vista, 7 and 8. It is available in DVD format as well as a software patch which users of the original A-Train 9 can upgrade to. Version 2.0 includes all content from the two expansion packs intended for the original A-Train 9 plus several new buildings and trains, as well as several bug fixes. Three DLCs were released for The Train Giant starting on August 1, 2012 with "Shanghai". “Boston” and the “Elbe Estuary” were to follow but are impossible to find. "The Train Giant" can be purchased on eBay for about $10 – $15. The version with a "3" on the cover contains the 3 DLCs. On June 29, 2014 a second new version, entitled A-Train Version 3.0: Railway Simulator was later released. This version was then released worldwide on October 10, 2014 via Steam, although due to licensing issues fewer real life trains are available from the Japanese version.
On October 21, 2015, A-Train 9 Version 4.0 : Japan Rail Simulator was released on Steam, supporting Windows XP, Vista, 7, 8.1 and 10.
Originally planned for 2011, A-Train 3D was released in Japan on February 13, 2014 and it was released in North America on April 14, 2015 and in Europe on April 16, 2015 as A-Train: City Simulator by Natsume for the Nintendo eShop on Nintendo 3DS. Nintendo eShop only pre-orders also received the soundtrack, a brief peek at which is on YouTube.
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- A-Train, Personal Computer Museum
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- A-Train HX Information - Xbox 360 - The Official Magazine
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- Tsubame, Shinkansen. "Let's go in the (working BGM) A-Train 3D Soundtrack Collection". YouTube. Retrieved 20 February 2014.