It’s taken some time, but the trains are running again on a Nintendo platform. A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism pulled into the station worldwide on the Switch and, as you might imagine, it builds on the sort of transportation management found in A-Train 3D: City Simulator. However, this time it might seem even more overwhelming, as you aren’t just managing things like a bus or a train as in that installment. You’re trying to make tourist attractions successful, earn money from new avenues, and even design scenarios for other people.
Your goals in A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism vary, depending on the premade or custom scenario you’re exploring. The common goal is to build a functional transportation system that takes into account things like trains, subways, and roadways and the area’s general needs. However, each one also has more focused goals to achieve. So basically, you want to keep growing and being profitable, while also keeping track of all the complex issues. Which is a lot, considering you are managing the train, the stations, your staff, the stock market, and even influencing town growth by determining where people live near stations.
For example, A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism tries so hard to prepare people for the game. The introduction to railway planning is thoughtful, gives you chances to see everything in action, and offers attainable goals. It even plots out some potential moves for you. But, there are still some controls that clearly don’t feel as well-suited to a console, compared to a keyboard and mouse. (I would actually recommend playing in handheld mode, for the optional touch screen control options.) And it isn’t really the sort of game where if you don’t pick something up immediately, it feels easy to go back and figure it out. The best way I can describe it is that it does have some elements in place to assist you, but I feel it expects a certain level of familiarity with these sorts of simulations.
For people who do have that familiarity, there’s so much here. Let’s think about what you have to consider when building a new line out to a new station. First, when laying the track, you have to look for and hopefully avoid existing buildings. (It costs more if you do.) You want to have an idea of where the station will go, since that will be bigger. You’ll need to survey the area, to see if there’s a populated area or tourist spot that acts as a point of interest. Maybe you’ll need additional platforms to meet demand. (That’s definitely a necessity in a busy area.) Will it only need normal or express trains? You determine when it will run. Are there roads near it? You might need to construct roads. But do you have the money for all that? Well, perhaps you need to play the stock market. If you’re trying to make it difficult for yourself, you’ll have to check on employee satisfaction. It’s extensive.
It’s also a game that is incredibly open-ended. A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism has its eight scenarios. Some are more simple, like Accessible City of Old, set in 1955, that is about making a city better in five years. Others, like City Switch, begins in 2006 and involves making an industrial area into a thriving urban center. If you don’t like those, it lets you make your own scenarios. If you want to just enjoy, you can sample scenarios other people made. (Be advised, there were only five when I was playing ahead of writing this review.) This is a game where you can manage everything. You try to shape a city in a way that will do things like make it a tourist center or have its population grow. You try to make everyone, from people taking your train to business people playing the stock market, happy with your decisions.
But for all of the fastidiousness, it’s also surprisingly relaxing. Once you get things settled, it becomes about taking some time to see how things play out. You can “ride” one of your trains along the track, seeing the path it takes. You could zoom in enough to watch even people walk around the city. You can see if your lines are driving the sort of growth you need, such as if nightclubs are being built around city centers or tourist hubs. It’s demanding, sure, but it’s also giving you plenty of time to savor the things you have built. And even with two tutorial and six main scenarios you have, you determine how hard you want it to be. There are three difficulties to help you test yourself.
Just… you have to be careful how you savor it. I’ve noticed zooming in too much can cause the game to chug along, especially if things are really busy. I also don’t think it looks as good as a more classic A-Train game. (Turning off shadows and weather effects can help.) I experienced a crash when going through the second tutorial scenario. I’d also recommend saving often, as even though patches are coming regularly, the experience left me leery. Not to mention, it’s the sort of game where having backups at different points of development can help if you get too far off course.
A-Train: All Aboard! Tourism is definitely impressive. People have an extraordinary degree of control over all elements of transportation and the entire health of towns. It demands you pay attention, to be sure. There are some technical issues here, to be sure. (Patches were released as I was playing, so it seems Artdink is aware of problems.) People willing to give it a chance could find a simulation they could spend months playing. Though, I would recommend anyone interested sample the demo first to be certain it is something they can handle.
A-Train: All Aboard Tourism is available for the Nintendo Switch.