A-Train logo

Maxis leave the (Sim) city behind and let off some steam as they roll on by. Choo-oo-WOOO!

I have very mixed feelings about trains. On several occasions, I've been more than happy to sit back in relative comfort, drinking a cup of funny-tasting coffee and munching my way through a suspiciously plastic-like burger while a guy in a blue uniform takes me to London or somewhere similar..

This saves the hassle of driving to a place oneself and takes care of the even larger and more expensive headache of finding a place to park once you arrive - so trains are good, in that respect.
On the downside, I live directly behind what was formerly an industrial railway line, now converted into the so-called "tourist attraction" of the East Lancashire Steam Railway.

At the time of writing this (Sunday afternoon at home, in case anyone important is reading) I can hardly hear myself think, mainly because there are between 80 and 100 people chattering excitedly directly below my window awaiting the arrival of the Flying Scotsman, an apparently very famous train which the management have hired for a month.

This has been the case every weekend for the last three weeks, and I would just like to say that if you are one of those people who stopped your car in the middle of our road, or trampled on my mum's rosebush, or just generally made a nuisance of yourself during this hallowed flying Scotsman period, then you ought to get yourself a god-damn life. There - I feel better now.

A-Train is brought to us by Maxis - those strategy gurus responsible for the epic Sim games (or "software toys" as they like to call them), and it would be very easy to compare it to any of their previous products, so I won't.

The basic aims are pretty much the same though - oops, there I go, a comparison already - the idea being that you must earn yourself as much power and money as possible Sporting th name it does, it's a reasonable assumption that A-Train will contain fairly hefty train-like overtones. But it isn't all railroading - in fact this is just one part of what is effectively a multi-challenge game.

Of course it's important to create an efficient and well patronised rail network, but equally important are developments around it - industrial, housing and recreational. Without these, there wold be no point or attraction in people travelling to a destination, so the more attractive a location the better.

Apartments, houses, offices, skyscrapers, golf courses and amusement parks all contribute to the value and attraction of a site, and all give more reason for potential visitors. But these all need to be built first - therefore factories must be erected, manned and out into operation. All of the projects mean parting with that well-loved wonga, and early delays in finishing could mean bankruptcy, and a perky little "game over" message.

Bank loans are available (and advisable) for large projets, and your profits and losses are constantly available for checking through one of the easy-to-use icons.

Back to the trains though, since these are the main subject of the game. Having constructed a workable line, with trains carrying supplies for your buildings, it's time to start earning yourself some passengers by enlarging your network. Trains are required to carry people to and from work, and the schedules must reflect this. Also, additional trains may be required at the weekend once you have established some leisure complexes.

Laying the tracks themselves is a reasonably simple affair, although - true to life - there are only certain terrains on which a railway can be built, and therefore a line needs to be carefully planned if it isn't to cost loads more than it should.

A problem I frequently had at the beginning was that, keen lad that I am, I scheduled trains aplenty, only to find myself with several costly wrecks to take care of. Time runs as quickly or slowly as you want it to, and a financial year is from April to April. An impressive visual touch is the atmospheric dusk and night times - much better than the very lacklustre sound.

If you are looking for a ga- er... software toy that's quick to load and good fun for half an hour, then look elsewhere. If it;s a long-term challenge you crave though, then A-Train is the game for you.

There isn't any way to run out winner as such, because the game allows you to continue your powermongering until you're blue in the face, but the beauty of games such as this has always been the fact that they are virtually endless.

Sim City fans will lap this up - it's much more involved (and more fun) than SC, but be warned, although the icons are very clear and the game itself about as visual as can be, the sheer size of the whole affair means that a lot of manual reading and/or frustrating attempts are required before any satisfaction begins to seep through.

A-Train logo

If you like the strategy or trading genre, read on. If you're into shoot-em-ups with plenty of gratuitous violence, hacking and slaying, then we suggest that you keep on turning the pages... because this game will appeal to you about as much as being run over by an express train...

So what's it all about, then? Well, suffice to say that we're dealing with a near-god game, only this time you're not completely omnipotent, and you do get pursued for our overdraft. It's empire building time once more, but, surprise, surprise, it's about railways. Not only that, but creating towns and cities around these railways, and recouping the investment you put into them.

"Ahah!", I hear you cry, "a clone of Railroad Tycoon!" Well, close, but not quite. It is similar, but the emphasis of the two games is completely different.

You start off with a large wad of dosh and a landscape just waiting to be concreted over. You lay down a set of tracks, build a couple of stations and buy yourself a nice modern freight locomotive. Run this for a few days, and you'll build up a good stock of materials.

Now comes the difficult part: what sort of buildings do you go for? Are you going to build a factory or a residential area? Or how about a Ski resoort? The world, as they say, is your oyster. Unlike Railroad Tycoon, this game also involves building up the cities.

If you're planning lots of expansion, you'll need to approach the bank for a loan. No problem, but watch out for the interest rates. Invest this dosh in expanding your empire, and if you've any left over why not play the stock market? How about a few hundred shares in Heave Water Chemistry PLC?

Again, feel free, but beware: As stockbrokers never tire of saying: "The value of stocks and shares can decline as well as increase."

Speculate to accumulate
So your empire continues to expand. You lay new lines, buy new buildings and move into commercial wheeler dealings. But don't forget the loan you've taken out, because in a few years time the bankers will be knocking on your door and politely requesting their money back, plus interest.

Assuming you're still surviving after a couple of years game time, you may want to move into even bigger things. You can build stadiums, amusement parks, golf courses and hotels. But make sure that you've got a good supply of materials and a good passenger network supplying them, because this is the life blood of your empire: people and goods moving back and forth. Owning several hotels near an amusement park is all very well, but if you haven't got any passenger lines reaching them, how are people going to get to the park in order to give you their money?

And so it continues, until the face of the Earth is covered with your railway lines and your apartment blocks stand on every corner.

Well, perhaps it's not quite that big. There's no end as such to the game, but once you've got $42 million in loose change floating around, it's fairly safe to assume that relatively little could happen to destroy your network. Thus, the game gives you the option of giving it all up and starting again. But I wouldn't worry about that at the start. Reaching that point will take many years of game time and several weeks of real time, depending on the scenario you start on.

There are several included in the game, ranging from a green field new town area, to the major restructuring of a large city network.

This is not a fast game: even a small game such as the new town scenario will take several hours before you get anywhere, and some of the bigger scenarios (such as building railway lines and populating the San Francisco bay area) will take many days of play, and several years of computer time to even begin to get close to the objectives. You'll also have to be patient to see the fruits of your labours, so don't build an apartment block and tear it down if it's not making a profit withi a few days. Patience and long-term strategies are the name of the game.

Once you've started playing this game, it's very difficult to stop

In-game sound effects are present, with all the chuffa-chuffa and clankety-clank train-type noises you'd expect, as well as some music. Regrettably, this is irritating and reminds me of the sort of thing you'd hear in an elevator, so it's best turned off very quickly. You can also alter the speed of the game, and if you're running on a faster machine, you'll probably want to slow it down a bit.

The game can be run in two modes: low and hi-resolution. The first requires 1Mb chip RAM and uses interlaced hi-resolution graphics and another 512K of fast, and the second only 1 Mb of RAM. The hi-res mode shows a larger area of the screen, but at the pice of the usual flicker. It's also painfully slow to scroll around the playing area in this mode.

The manual is well written, and contains a pretty good section on the development of railways over the world, which should be os use to interested players. It's well written, and contains several tutorials ranging from how to lay curved tracks to how to make an amusement park pay.

Also included is a wide range of background information, including a potted history of several large and small railways. For instance, did you know that a surveyor is know as a 'Mud Chicken', and a railway policeman is known as a 'Cinder Dick'?

Stay on the right track
Overall, it's pretty easy to control the game. There's on-line help, and the icons are pretty obvious. The area that you can see when running in low-resolution mode is small, and it's not possible to lay long lengths of track in one go, but this is more of an inconvenience than a problem. It's also easy to see the whole playing area via a satellite view, which shows you the positions of all the buildings, the trains and the materials.

I really do like this game. Once yo've started, it's difficult to stop. There are plenty of possibilities, and no one 'correct' way of winning. As many successful solutions exist as there are possible paths for the tracks.

The scenarios with the game provide a wide range of challenges in a variety of situations, and it's got plenty of lasting appeal. Several scenarios are extremely complex, and will require a great amount of thought.

So what on Earth are you waiting for? You've seen the highball, so let's ball the jack with a tail over her back. We've got a full auxiliary, so let's keep on rolling until we make that fast call at that great terminal in the sky and anybody who jumps the birds is a pocatello yardmaster.

Translation: you've seen the signal that the line's clear, so let's make a run with this steam train, driving her so fast there's a plume of smoke over her top. We've got a full lunch basket, so let's keep going until we die, and anybody who jumps from the train is a fool and a liar.


Flats: probably the first things you'll build. A good source of income.

Factory: creates building materials, which you can use for construction.

Commercial: shops and offices are useful facilities to encourage people to live nearby.

Hotels: position them as near as possible to your recreational facilities.

Golf course: this can be profitable if it's sighted correctly near large cities and hotels.

Amusement park: watch out for the firework displays on Saturday evenings in summer.


We start off with a virginal landscape, ripe to develop...

...so we build a railway line, stations and buy some land...

...adding a passenger line, a factory and a few flats.

Winter: removed factory and altered the railway lines...

...miserable git. So what if I'm skint? Town's buzzing!...

...oh dear. Perhaps I should have listened to him.

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Im fernen Japan brachte Artdink diese Mischung aus "Railroad Tycoon" und "Sim City" ins Rollen. Maxis ließ dann westliche PC-Eisenbahner zusteigen - jetzt werden endlich auch Amiga-Tickets verkauft!

Wie es bei den SIMulanten von Maxis üblich ist, gibt es eine Hires-Version für den gehobenen Hardwarefuhrpark und daneben eine immer noch schöne, auch von Disk gut spielbare Lores-Variante für Standard-Amigas. Die isometrische 3D-Grafik leidet zwar unter NTSC-Streifen und wird auch deutlich ruckeliger gescrollt als am PC, dafür kriegt man selbst in der niedrigauflösenden Version verhältnismäßig viele Details, annehmbare Farben und den stufenweisen Wechsel von Tag und Nacht geboten.

Speziell wegen der hervorragenden Satelliten-Ansicht ist die Geschichte um einiges übersichtlicher als "Railroad Tycoon", und was die logische aufgebaute Steuerung via Maus und Pop-Up-Menüs angeht, wird selbst der hausinterne Klassiker geschlagen.

Die Musikuntermalung erreicht locker den Roland-Standard, und die grausigen FX sind dankenswerterweise nur selten zu hören.

Soviel zur Technik, inhaltlich muß man sich zunächst einmal für eines von sechs Szenarien entscheiden, deren unterschiedlicher Schwierigkeitsgrad vor allem von der Beschaffenheit des Baulands abhängt - je gebirgiger desto kurviger und damit teurer, sprich schwerer. Denn um die Lok gleich aus dem Schuppen zu lassen: Im Grunde handelt es sich bei A-Train um eine hochkomplexe Wirtschaftssimulation im Gewand eines Märklin-Baukasten!

Es lassen sich dabei zwanglos drei Phasen unterscheiden, deren erste im Aufbau eines funktionsfähigen Schienennetzes besteht. Als nächstes klatscht man Wohngebäude, Fabriken, Golfplätze, Freizeitparks etc. drumherum, auf daß sich städtisches neben den öden Schienenstrangen entwickelt. Der wirtschaftliche Höhepunkt ist dann der Weg an die Börse oder ins Immobiliengeschäft, wo man mal eben 50 Millionen Dollar schettteln sollte - oder pleite geht und von vorn anfangen darf...

Klar, wer seine Weichen falsch stellt bzw. einbaut, wird mit Zusammenstößen nicht unter zwei Zügen bestraft, doch ansonsten fährt die Bahn hier quasi von selbst. Nein, das Problem besteht eher darin, einen vernünftigen Fahrplan aufzustellen, um damit auch Gewinne zu machen!

Je tiefer man in die Thematik eindringt, umso mehr Fragen tauchen auf: Welche der 19 Loks brauche ich als nächste? Soll man dieses Gebäude leasen oder kaufen? Noch einen Kredit aufnehmen oder nicht? Was macht die Computerkonkurrenz? Welche Aktien steigen, welche fallen?

Gottlob kann man für all diese Gewissensentscheidungen nicht nur etliche Finanzierungstabellen und Wirtschaftsstatistiken einsehen, sondern auch insgesamt 20 Fachleute um Rat fragen; zudem ist die ebenso dicke wie englische Anleitung eine große Hilfe.

Somit ist A-Train alles andere als ein Spiel für zwischendurch, doch Eisenbahner, die keine Angst vor anspruchsvollen Wirtschaftssimulationen haben, sollten getrost auf diesen Zug aufspringen! (mm)

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A strategy game with trains, but this one's got more to offer than most model railways.

Choo choo train keeps riding, we'll be together, together, riding on a train. The Pasadenas, eh? Don't you just love 'em? No? Come on, somebody out there must do, their dance act was great even if the music wasn't up to much. OK, so you might not admit to having the album, but several thousand of you must own the classic single Riding On A Train. And that artificially conceived and really rather tenuous opening brings us neatly to A-Train, which, ironically, could definitely do with some help from the Pasadens because its music is so dire.

Crank up the volume and you're treated to plinky plonky synthesized tunes that makes lift muzak sound like a symphony. The sound effects aren't much better, just pitiful chugging noises and not so much as a 'choo choo' in sight, or rather, in ear shot.

Glad I got that off my chest, because the usual tirade against strategy games is that they all look terminally boring, but that criticism can't be levelled at A-Train. If, say, you happened to be organising a political incorrect Miss World-style pageant to find the sexiest, most gorgeous looking strategy games, A-Train would be up on the cat-walk flaunting its slender curves for all its worth.

OK, so it might not win the competition, but it would make a very nble third place, well ahead of the likes of Civilization, but just behind putting beauties such as Mega Lo Mania.

But why does it looks so good? Well, it's mainly down to the level of visual detail. There are all sorts of buildings, and they're all clearly depicted on world maps that are several screens wide and several screens deep.

There's everything from shanty town huts, to sky scraping, er, sky scrapers, as well as golf courses, amusement parks, apartment blocks, ski resorts, factories and, of course, numerous trains.

Ah yes, the trains. I know there had to be a reason for all this. The trains. What can you say about trains that hasn't already been said? They're lovely, long, slender, pulsating beasts that like nothing better than entering dark tunnels at high velocities (Steady on - Ed). And they break down a lot.

But the trains in A-Train are different. They never break down and they never go into any tunnels. In fact, they don't exhibit much train-like behaviour at all, apart from the fact that they travel a long train tracks and keep stopping at stations to pick up people and freight. So what are these trains for, and what's the big idea behind the beautiful but audibly offensive A-Train?

Well, at the most basic level, the main idea is to make money, and lots of it, which you do by building railroads and cities, in a sort of corruption of Maxis' own main money maker Sim City and MicroProse's Railroad Tycoon.

Lovely, long, slender, pulsating beats

There are six scenarios to play through, but the first is probably the best place to start. Scenario the First is called New Town. You load up the map and across the top right-hand corner runs a train track that brings people and raw materials in to the city from outside. I use the term 'city' in its loosest possible sense, because to start off with, the fledgling New Town is just a couple of shacks.

To turn New Town into Big, Brash and Bustling Town, and make lots of money into the bargain, you have to build a railroad. Laying the track is a simple, if slightly annoying process. Click on where you want the route to start and extend the rails across the landscape.
Don't wortty about planning permission - you're in charge of the place and because you're totally evil any houses that happen to be in the way are automatically flattened.

So, the track's in place, you slap a couple of stations at either end and the select some trains from the 19 passenger and freight locos available. You start the whole thing running and you lose money. You lose lots of money because there aren't any people on the passenger trains and there aren't any goods for the freight trains to carry. And this is where the city-building side comes in.

Not only do you create the railroad, but you have to construct cities to provide goods and people who will want to use your trains. The people need places to live, places to work, places to shop and places to have fun.

The more efficient your rail network is, the more of them you can provide and the more money you make. As well as earning money from your (hopefully) profitable railroad, you earn money from subsidiary businesses such as apartments, factories and resorts. It's not long before you realise that all the businesses feed off each other, and none can survive independently.

A-Train is undoubtedly a complex simulation. The difficulties of crating an efficient rail network are a real, but enjoyable, headache to start off with, and once you've got your trains running smoothly you have to switch your focus to the finer points of city building and all its myriad complexities. The success of each subsidiary depends on which other subsidiaries are nearby, so, for example hotels do well when they're near to ski resorts.

But it doesn't stop here. You have to remember that you're running a corporation, which means you've got to keep a keen eye on the bottom line, and if you make too much profit in a year you'll be clobbered with income tax. Throw in the stock market for good measure and you've got one hell of a strategy game.

It's not without its flaws, however. Even on the highest speed setting the game chugs along like a clapped-out steam engine, which means you often have to leave the game running for long periods before any big changes occur in your city. If you're patient then it's bearable, but there's a good chance that the slow pace could put you off altogether.

Then there's realism, which is always a thorny subject when it come to computer games because by their very nature they're works of fiction. But that doesn't mean they can't try to be realistic. A-Train has its realistic bits, such as the bank and stock market which are only open 9-5 Monday to Saturday. If you want to borrow money or buy shares outside these times you can't, you just get a message saying you have to wait until they open.

This sits uneasily with your God-like ability to pluck entire apartments blocks from thin air and plonk them down pretty much wherever you choose. You can also switch a train of 500 passengers from one line onto another. Where do all the people go?

Apart from the speed issue, these are all really rather minor gripes. A-Train has to be one of the best strategy games around, and its open-ended nature means you never have to stop playing. You have to care about what you're doing, but lucky A-Train gives you so much freedom to do what you want that you do start caring about the cities where you want to or not.

As with Sim City, you can just keep going until you get bored of playing with your massively complicated computerised train set.


It's point and click all the way as far as Artdink are concerned, so let's take a quick tour through the sort of sticky substances you'll be dipping your mouse into. You can't just plonk these buildings down anywhere (well you can, but it won't do any good), you should think about the relationships they have with each other and take it from there.

Buy train - Browse through the Argos catalogue of the train worl and buy one of 19 different trains.

Buil Factory - Supplement the supply of raw materials by building factories. You never know, they might even turn in a profit.

Amusement Park - All the fun of the fair, complete with Sudden Impact death sequence.

Ski Slopes - They rake in the cash, but are no use in summer, so sell them in February.

Schedule - Just a tad important, this one. Use it to plan all your train times and routes.

Build Apartments - Not content with rough shacks, the people in the city prefer the flats in the apartments.

Build station - Big station, small station, it's up to you. Big ones are more expensive, but they have a wider field of influence.


So you want to be an entrepeneur? Well, you need a good head for figures because A-Train throws them at you with absolutely no apologies. Here's a few important ones to watch out for.

The balance shee provides a summary of all the other figures. Expect to take a huge loss in the first year because it costs a fortune to set up the railroad.

Your subsidiary businesses can earn as much money as the railroad. Here'the apartment blocks are beginning to show a real profit.

Keep a sharp eye on the railroad operating costs. If the figures on the right are in red you need to change the trains' scheduling.

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All aboard. Dan Slingsby tries out the service in Maxis' new sim. Cold teas and stale sarnies will be available in the buffet car.

Contrary to popular belief, I am not a trainspotter. Yes, I do possess a beige-hooded anorak and I'm sometimes prone to spots, but that doesn't mean I spend my weekends at Doncaster station frantically scribbling down engine numbers and hanging around public toilets. Strange, then, that I should be so completely hooked on Maxis' latest release, an in-depth train management simulation that's so detailed it even allows you to set the switching points on the track and work out a timetable for up to 25 passenger and freight trains.

It's not just a train sim, though. There's the 'triple challenge' of developing a railroad network, building a thriving metropolis and investing all your surplus cash to create a burgeoning financial empire. Yes, I know what you're thinking, this all sounds a bit like Sim City with trains, and you wouldn't be far wrong, except that it's a hell of a lot more involved.

Whereas Sim City used commercial, industrial and residential building blocks to piece together a city, A-Train involves setting up a mass transit system to get things moving. Running a successful railway stimulates growth in the neighbouring hinterland, with residential blocks, factories and offices being built around the stations. Once you've started to develop the land, the computer takes over adding its own residential and commercial districts. Pretty soon, major roads begin to appear, land prices soar and you're well on your way to becoming a property magnate.

There are six different scenarios to choose from at the start of the game and these range from building up a rail network from scratch or developing an existing one, to taking over the running of a failed transit system and developing a coastal resort (check out the scenarios box for further details).

To help you get the most out of the program, Maxis have written a huge 140-page manual which includes a handy walk-through guide. This details all the functions of the various icons that appear in the tool box at the bottom of the screen as well as providing useful hints, tips and strategies.

Most of the main screen is viewed from a three-quarters top down perspective of the immediate area, which is nicely detailed. To scroll across the terrain, you can either use the arrow keys or click on the sides of the screen with the mouse's cursor. At the bottom of the screen is a small tool box containing all the commands that are necessary to get started.

These include icons for the placing and laying of new tracks, purchasing trains, scheduling arrivals and departures, building stations, apartments, factories and even baseball parks. Clicking on any of these calls up a new window from where you can carry out specific actions. For example, clicking on the track laying icon brings up a new window which asks whether you wish to lay a new track or remove existing lines. The cost of each new piece of rail is also shown - this can vary depending on the cost of laying the track and which type of land you're aiming to build it on.

Next to the icons are a series of information buttons. Clicking on these reveals various financial details relating to your company such as the operating profit (or lack of one) and an operations report, as well as a satellite view to get an overall idea of how things are shaping up. There's also a bank option, which enables you to fix up loans for further expansion, and a stock market option. It's not necessary to get stuck into share dealing, but it does help diversify your interests into other areas. But remember, kids, the price of shares can go down as well as up!

Track laying is a bit complicated at first, ad it's difficult to create curved lines. I'd have liked to have seen a bank of differently shaped pieces that could have been positioned on screen instead of the right angled pieces on offer, but, with a little practice, you'll be looping the loop before you know it.

The first thing you've got to do once you've started a new game is to get a track up and running and start earning some cash. A closed track with two stations at either end is a good way to begin. Schedule a passenger train to run up and down the line, position some residential units at one end of the track and some offices at the other, and you'll be in business. The most effective departure times for a train are 8am in a residential district and 6pm in a commercial area. It's at these times that most people use a train.

It's not quite as easy as it sounds, though. Buildings need bricks, strangely enough, so you'll need to purchase a freight train to bring in fresh supplies or build a factory to manufacture some. Once you've got a sufficient quantity, it's time to start to invest in some real estate and develop your residential and commercial districts.

It's best to buy up the land nearest each of your stations at the start of the game as the price of this area will skyrocket later on and can provide a good source of rental or sales income.

Taxes and debt schedules are also a problem. Taxes are due at the end of the financial year, and if you haven't got the dosh to pay them, then it's effectively game over. You're faced with a 50% tax on any profit you make, a cripplingly high figure, so invest surplus cash in fixed assets before the year's end, as these are taxed at a mere 5% of their value. Get into debt at the bank and you'll receive a foreclosure notice, again putting a premature end to the proceedings.

Once you've constructed a successful line, it's time to open up additional routes. Connecting lines can be built at angles of 45 degrees to existing lines, but you'll then find you need to pay more attention to scheduling trains if you're to avoid a pile up.

The best type of line to develop is a loop of track, known in the business as a belt line. By setting up several stations around the loop, it's possible to have four or five trains running simultaneously. The enclosed land will soar in value, so if you buy it at the start, you'll make a financial killing.

Comparisons to Sid Meier's Railroad Tycoon are inevitable I suppose, and it must be said that Microprose's offering is much the better game. Maxis like to refer to their titles as 'software toys' or simulations rather than games and this is reflected in A-Train's open-ended approach.

Although there's a vague goal of reaching a profit level of $50 million, it's possible to keep on playing indefinitely. You also operate in a monopoly, so there's no competition, no price wars and no underhand dealing - all in complete contrast to Sid Meier's offering.

Unfortunately, A-Train runs off hard disk, so its market is pretty limited. It comes in both a hi-res and low-res option, and there's not much difference between the two except that the hi-res version is more detailed. A word of warning, though, the hi-res version needs 1Mb of RAM plus 1/2Mb of Chip RAM so make sure your system is able to cope. Overall, preferred the low-res graphics, mainly because they were less cluttered and more clearly defined. The sound is terrible, some wobbly Hammond Organ-type music and electronic bleeps and that's it.

Overall, A-Train is an enjoyable game, guaranteed to keep you occupied for weeks if not months. If you can't wait until Sim City 2000 is released at the end of the year, then give it a try.

There are six different scenarios to choose from at the start of the game. Each have varying geographic features and are in different stages of development.

Besides an old railroad line and a station, there are only small residences and ranches. The 'new town' is in the suburbs of a big city on the map, and its population needs increasing. It lacks facilities such as department stores and lease buildings, and quickly needs a profitable railway line to link to the city.

There is already a large population. The problem here is how to effectively use the old railroad line at the top of the map and how to transport the materials to develop the bay area at the bottom. Doing nothing with the old line will land you in debt because of the expenditure you face in leaving it unattended. An industrial strip near the harbour will stimulate the economy.

This area is ripe for resort development. There's an airport nearby, but just ignore it. The old railway is too short and the materials storage area inadequate for future needs. Extend the line and buy ARIIIs. After making some money, set up a double-line railway. Sculpt the city around the mountains and lakes. You'll probably need a bank loan to develop the site's potential - try to work with one-year debt.

Industry is in decline. There's no cash. It's time to borrow your way out of recession. Concentrate on industrial development and then residential centres. Connect the scattered cities and villages by railroad to stimulate growth. Focus on expanding types of business but keep in mind that a rash of thoughtless development may bring a state of chaos to the local business community.

Scenario five's city is at an advanced stage, but progress will stop if the transportation network lags behind developments. The belt line is failing to make money and must be reconstructed. Your expenses are twice your income, and lack of cash is a big concern. Remove uneconomical trains and develop new routes if possible. Buy apartment blocks and then develop the area around the lake.

Map six has a profitable belt line and the city is already on a large scale. The industrial centre is beginning to deviate away from the centre. Traffic jams have started to appear. You're going to have to reconstruct the transport system in order to keep up with the pace of change.

  1. Lay Tracks
  2. Place train
  3. Buy train
  4. Factory
  5. Offices
  6. Hotel
  7. Golf COurse
  8. Funfair
  9. Financial reports plot out your progress
  10. Sim time
  1. Place Station
  2. Schedule
  3. Help
  4. Ski resort
  5. Stadium
  6. Leasehold
  7. Apartments
  8. Real Estate
  9. Stock market lets you dabble with shares
  10. Cash level


Mit gebührender Verspätung gegenüber den PC-Loks läßt Maxis seinen Szenario-Editor nun auch auf dem Amiga einlaufen - alles halb so wild, denn ab jetzt sind wir von fremden Fahrplänen endgültig unabhängig!

Neben den verantwortungsvollen Aufgaben als Strecken-Designer und Schrankenwart darf man also auch noch den Landschaftsgärtner und Miniatur-Gott in Personalunion spielen...

Kraft seines wortwörtlich erbaulichen Amtes stampft man hier Dörfer und Trabantenstädte aus dem Boden, staffiert freudlose Ebenen mit Bergen, Flüssen und Seen aus und packt ein paar lauschige Gemüsefelder, Wälder oder Golfplätze dazwischen. Natürlich finden sich auch Schienen, Züge, Bahnhöfe und anderes Einsenbahner-Equipment in diesem digitalen Bauschuppen; darüber hinaus können notorische Pleitegeher sogar ihr Bankkonto nach Belieben vollpumpen, um die nächsten 20 Inflationen kühl lachelnd zu überstehen.

Und falls es jemand zu mühsam findet, die gesamte Schöpfungsgeschichte von Grund auf neu zu schreiben, kann er seine Züge ebensogut gleich durch sechs vorgefertigte Szenarien rollen lassen.

Wer bereits einschlägige Erfahrungen als wirtschaftlich interessierter Digi-Schaffner gesammelt hat, dürfte mit der handhabung dieses Baukastens keinerlei Probleme haben. Sowohl Grafik als auch benützeroberfläche sind praktisch identisch mit dem, was das (erforderliche) Hauptprogramm an Äußerlichkeiten anzubieten hat, weshalb wir in guter alter Ergänzungsdisk-Tradition eine neuerliche Bewertung einfach unter den Kartentisch fallen lassen.

Unser beliebtes Schlußfazit wollen wir Euch dagegen keinesfalls vorenthalten: Wer "A-Train" mag, muß hier einfach zugreifen, denn er kann das Leben erst wieder in vollen Zügen genießen, sobald ihm der Mann am Software-Schalter für rund 99 Kohlen sein Ticket ins Eisenbahner-Paradies ausgehändigt hat! (rl)