Wild Wild Train—dames, trains and villains easily worth your time

Posted: July 30, 2009 in Puzzle

We don’t think much about trains and locomotives these days, but I’m sure many of us growing up had electric train sets that we played make believe with. Wild Wild Train is an imaginative action and time management puzzler that offers an entertaining and challenging experience. From managing different trains through a multitude of scenarios to rescuing the damsel in distress, Wild Wild Train is impressive in presentation and depth.

Managing trains sounds like a piece of cake until you realize danger lurks around every turn whether it’s another train barreling down the track or explosives meant to cause harm. Of course in Wild Wild Train, the initial tasks involve picking up and delivering cargo in a timely manner, but the difficulty quickly picks up. The game has 24 levels and 11 different maps and you’ll have the opportunity to manage and control up to 3 trains.

The storyline is revealed through some nicely detailed artwork presented as an introduction to each level. The gist is that a mad villain by the name of Greazy is kidnapping women who resemble the object of the affection. Yes, it’s a little off the beaten track, but what would a train game be without a disturbed individual. Everything from the menus to the game layout has a rich antique-style feel which lends a high-level of polish to the game. The piano soundtrack is a throwback to the old silent films of the early 19th century and is yet another nice touch.

When selecting a level, a diagram is presented of the track layout as well as par times that must be met in order to unlock the next level. Within each level, a gold, silver or bronze trophy is awarded based on completion time and points tallied. Of course, once a level is unlocked, it can be replayed to raise scores and secure theoretical bling.

The basics of the game involve flipping switches on the tracks in order to direct trains in certain directions. These switches are laid out at intersections, and you’ll need to plan ahead especially when dealing with multiple trains. Controlling is part of the challenge, and you can easily select a specific train by tapping it. Additionally, when there are multiple trains, an All Trains button appears that allows you to select all trains on the tracks. To control the speed of a selected train, a Snail/Rabbit speed slider is available for increasing (Rabbit) and decreasing (Snail) speed. Also, you can pinch to zoom and drag to pan the screen and view more of the details since some of the structures can be difficult to make out.

Wild Wild Train offers some interesting and surprisingly varied gameplay that runs smoothly on my iPod Touch 2g 3.0. As I mentioned, the objective early on will be to pick-up and drop off cargo involving multiple trips and trains. Mastering the switches and planning ahead will be essential because as you progress, even pick-up and drop-off points become more difficult to get to. For one, time will be against you, and another is the additional trains on the tracks. Improperly managed, trains will crash and further delay delivery times. Fortunately, you are allowed a certain number of crashes per level.

In the later levels, bombs are randomly placed along the tracks which obviously cause damage if you run them over unless you use the Hero Train to disarm it. The Hero Train is specifically used for bomb disarmament, and any other type of train that runs over a bomb costs a life. Now, that’s not all. The damsels in distress will come into play as well, and yes, only the Hero Train can rescue them. Any other train will just run over a damsel and more importantly, force you to restart the level. Most of your time will be focused on directing the right trains along the best possible path which is not as easy as you would think. Something the game could use is an achievement system that would complement the trophies based on cargo delivered and damsels rescued for example.

Wild Wild Train is a polished game from the game screen all the way down to the menus and options. It’s one of the more beautifully presented games you’ll see, and the intro scenes in this case significantly enhance rather than hinder the overall feel. This is a game of strategy and in some cases logic and highly recommended.

Albie Meter: 4 Stars (recommended for puzzlers and time management addicts; challenging yet different gameplay should test advanced players and novices alike)


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