Railroad Tycoon

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Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon
Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon.jpg
Developer(s)MPS Labs
Designer(s)Sid Meier
Bruce Shelley
Composer(s)Jeff Briggs
SeriesRailroad Tycoon Edit this on Wikidata
Platform(s)MS-DOS, Amiga, Macintosh, Atari ST, FM Towns, NEC PC-9801
  • WW: 1990
Genre(s)Business simulation game

Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon is a business simulation designed by Sid Meier. The game is the first in the Railroad Tycoon series.

An expanded version of the game titled Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon Deluxe, was released in 1993. A port of the game for the Super NES was planned for a 1994 release, and screenshots were shown in the March 1993 issue of Nintendo Power; however the port was never released. Though no reason was officially given,[1] it may have been due to the DOS release of Transport Tycoon, and its planned release on the then-upcoming PlayStation console.[2] The DOS version of the game was released as freeware for download in 2006.[3]


The objective of the game is to build and manage a railroad company by laying tracks, building stations, and buying and scheduling trains. The player acts as a railway entrepreneur and may start companies in any of four geographic locales: the Western United States, Northeast United States, Great Britain, or Continental Europe. The company starts with one million dollars in capital, half equity, half a loan. The company may raise additional capital through the sale of bonds.

The player manages the business as described above and may also handle individual train movement and build additional industries. The game models supply and demand of goods and passengers as well as a miniature stock market on which players can buy and sell stock of their own or competing companies. The game also has other railroad companies attempting to put the player out of business with stock dealings and rate wars.

There are four types of stations: Signal Tower, Depot, Station and Terminal. The Signal Tower acts as a passing loop and may control movements. The rest service surrounding areas: the Depot serves its own square and the adjoining eight squares, the Station takes another ring, and the Terminal handles up to three squares away. The player can build at most 32 stations. When the player builds the first station they also build their first engine shop. Each engine shop is the manufacturing area for the player's different trains. The player can upgrade and downgrade Depots, Stations and Terminals. Other facilities such as stores and hotels may be added.

Once the player builds a station they can build their first train (of the 32 permitted) at any engine shop. The player then can add cars to the train and send it on its way. The player can at any time change the consist, with options including pure mail and passenger cars as well as specialized freight cars for each of the game's nine other commodity types.

The player can continue to build the track network and build stations until they run out of funds. The game runs for a century (1830 - 1930 and 1866 - 1966 in America and 1900 - 2000 in Europe), with accounting periods being two years long. Stations built or rebuilt in a particular accounting period pay the player double freight rates for everything they purchase in that period.

Not every station buys everything offered to it. Some goods producers buy nothing. There are two alternatives the player can choose between: Simple Economy (where, for example, a station serving two or more cities will buy anything) and Complex Economy (where "two cities" will buy mail, passengers, and a couple of other products; "four villages" will buy passengers and different freight products; only a station with a steel mill will buy coal; and other products have other buyer types). There are product variations over the four geographical scenarios.

The original version had a signed integer overload error, where if you went deep enough into debt, the negative integer would flip to a positive number and you had unlimited cash. You could have a 15-figure negative number, but once you get to 16 figures, there is no space for the negative - since the game could only accommodate 16 bits.


Railroad Tycoon sold more than 400,000 units by September 1997.[4]

In the July 1990 edition of Games International (Issue 16), Brian Walker gave the game a perfect score of 10 out of 10, saying, "Certainly this is one of the most captivating games I've ever played."[5]

In the September 1990 edition of Computer Gaming World, Railroad Tycoon was named Game of the Year.[6] In the next issue, M. Ryan Brooks gave the game five out of five stars.[7] In 1992, Computer Gaming World added it to the magazine's Hall of Fame for games that readers highly rated over time.[8]

In the December 1990 edition of PC Sources, Russ Lockwood called Railroad Tycoon one of the best games of the year.[9]

In the January 1991 and October 1991 issues of Dragon, Patricia and Kirk Lesser awarded both the PC version[10] and the Macintosh version[11] perfect scores of 5 out of 5.

The editors of Strategy Plus declared it their 1990 game of the year.[12]

The game won the 1991 Software Publishers Association Excellence in Software Award for Best Strategy Program.[13]

In 1991, PC Format named Railroad Tycoon one of the 50 best computer games ever.[14]

In 1994, PC Gamer US declared it the fourth best computer game ever.[15]

In 1996, Computer Gaming World declared Railroad Tycoon the 41st-best computer game ever released.[16]

In 1998, PC Gamer US declared it the 25th-best computer game ever released, and the editors called it "groundbreaking in every sense".[17]


  1. ^ http://www.snescentral.com/article.php?id=0830
  2. ^ http://www.gamefaqs.com/ps/573902-transport-tycoon/data
  3. ^ Sid Meier's Railroads - Downloads
  4. ^ "Microprose Ships Conquer the Skies and Conquer the World, Two Compilations of Top-Selling, Award-Winning Simulation and Strategy Games" (Press release). Alameda, California: Microprose. September 16, 1997. Archived from the original on January 20, 1998.
  5. ^ Walker, Brian (July 1990). "Railroad tycoon". Games International. No. 16. pp. 50–52.
  6. ^ "CGW's Game of the Year Awards". Computer Gaming World. September 1990. p. 70. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  7. ^ Brooks, M. Evan (October 1990). "Computer Strategy and Wargames: Pre-20th Century". Computer Gaming World. p. 11. Retrieved 16 November 2013.
  8. ^ "The CGW Poll". Computer Gaming World. April 1992. p. 48. Retrieved 24 November 2013.
  9. ^ Lockwood, Russ (December 1990). "Holiday alert: the year's best games; Accolade's Cycles, Broderbund's Galleons of Glory, Taito's Qix, MicroProse's Sword of the Samurai, Origin Systems' Ultima VI and more; Leisure Forum; product announcement". PC Sources. 1 (12): 58.
  10. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (January 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (165): 47–55.
  11. ^ Lesser, Hartley; Lesser, Patricia; Lesser, Kirk (October 1991). "The Role of Computers". Dragon (174): 57–64.
  12. ^ Staff (January 1991). "Strategy Plus Awards 1990". Strategy Plus (4): 30, 31.
  13. ^ "Celebrating Software". Computer Gaming World. June 1991. p. 64. Retrieved 17 November 2013.
  14. ^ Staff (October 1991). "The 50 best games EVER!". PC Format (1): 109–111.
  15. ^ Staff (August 1994). "PC Gamer Top 40: The Best Games of All Time". PC Gamer US (3): 32–42.
  16. ^ Staff (November 1996). "150 Best (and 50 Worst) Games of All Time". Computer Gaming World (148): 63–65, 68, 72, 74, 76, 78, 80, 84, 88, 90, 94, 98.
  17. ^ The PC Gamer Editors (October 1998). "The 50 Best Games Ever". PC Gamer US. 5 (10): 86, 87, 89, 90, 92, 98, 101, 102, 109, 110, 113, 114, 117, 118, 125, 126, 129, 130.

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