All aboard! Tourism – Destructoid
Come on, ride it
One of these days I’m going to go to Japan. This is one of my lifelong dreams, and there is so much I want to see there, from Mount Fiji to Chuka-Soba Tomita to the torii gates of Fushimi Inari shrine. I’m also going to want to use their transit system, because after living in the Bay Area for a few years and dealing with the Bay Area Rapid Transit, it would be nice to see what a transit system looks like. competent.
Yes A-Train: All aboard! Tourism is an indication, Japan really has its shit together to move people on the rail.
A-Train: All aboard! Tourism (Switch)
Released: Mar 12, 2021
MSRP: $ 59.99
When I first started A-Train: All aboard! Tourism, I thought I had a town builder in the style of Cities Horizons Where Pocket city. As I quickly understood, this is not exactly what A train the series speaks. Cities are built, of course, but they are built on the back of a strong public transport system. As the newly created CEO of a transport conglomerate, it’s my job to connect remote villages with rail and road so they can flourish into bustling metropolises. Sounds easy enough – and when you’re playing on easy difficulty, it actually is – but A train is not afraid to bury you up to your neck with its different systems.
It’s a complicated game, or at least a game with enough features that can make it seem more complicated than it actually is. You are not only worried about the transportation here. You should also consider the stock market, local governments, bank loans, taxes, land use, employee satisfaction, property acquisition, advertising, freight, and a assortment of affiliates, which constitute all the different ways in which you can win or lose money through gambling are several scenarios. It’s probably the most detailed, in-depth simulator I’ll ever play, and I often feel like I’m reading spreadsheets.
But you know what? I like that about it. I love having multiple options at my disposal to be successful in every scenario, whether I’m building a bullet train in the 90s or having more fans come to see my baseball team in Japan in the 60s. J love that the goals of the scenarios really force me to think about my approach. I love that even when I have done everything that is asked of me, I can continue with each map to see what more I can do for these communities. And I love how this game is really an educational title about the power of public transport and its ability to develop communities and boost tourism.
What I don’t like is how poorly implemented the UI and tutorials are, and the disastrous quality of both is enough to drag the whole package down. The user interface is too complicated and loaded as hell. I know there is a lot to deal with here and a lot of different menus that players will want to access, but the way it’s designed can make simple tasks more boring than they should be. It can also lead to mistakes that cost time and money to reverse. As for the tutorials, a lot of precise information is quickly launched to the players. While the central systems of A train are split across two tutorial scenarios, a lot of the information you need may be hard to find, or the game’s many menus may overwhelm you with unnecessary detail.
And that’s only when talking about the storylines that you play because you can create your own as well, and the process is just as arduous. A-Train: All aboard! Tourism features an exceptionally in-depth scenario builder, allowing you to set your own rules and limitations for cards that can be shared with others online. You can even write your own stories featuring different characters in the game. But again, the user interface is unnecessarily complicated, and the tutorials for this mode are nothing more than the user manual, which has no not always been able to provide answers to the many questions I had.
It’s a shame that more effort hasn’t been put into making this game more appealing to newcomers, as it’s launching on Nintendo Switch at what could be the peak of the console’s popularity. If there was a time to draw more people to this incredibly specialized series, this would be it. That’s not to say this game won’t make you a fan. After all, anything is possible, and despite the score you see below, I actually like most of what has been done here. I mean, you can zoom in to street level and just watch people go about their lives. Will you do it more than once? Probably not, as the game is blocky, low-res eye strain at this level, but it does offer a good vantage point to see how these villages and towns change as infrastructure improves.
So much about A-Train: All aboard! Tourism is good that I wish I could recommend it more highly. At the very least, I’d like to force people who don’t think it’s worth investing in public transportation to play it so that they see what a proper rail system can do for their community. Because that makes a good argument for expanding transit, it’s just that its archaic user interface and dismal tutorial and manual mean very few people will bother to listen to what it has to say.
[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]