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App description: *** Limited Time Offer - 50% OFF! ***

Introducing Rails, the official remake of Shortline Railroad, one of biggest and most addictive gaming sensations of the 90s! You're controlling the railroad today! Build tracks and guide trains to their stations, keeping the rail yard collision-free. Control the railroad switches and signals to lead trains from Point A to Point B, raking in money and earning achievements along the way.

You'll be on your toes with the 12 different train types. Trains with a long line of cargo, those with time bombs, vigilante trains that won't stop, and many others!

You can also play Rails on your Mac.

Key Features:

12 types of trains
30 achievements
60 unique levels
3 seasons
Compete with others in the Game Center
Ready for the iPad with Retina display

CzarCastic's comments:

I came across this game on AppShopper a couple of days ago, so I put it on my wishlist. It looks like it could have potential, but I don't know anything about it or the developers. Has anybody had a chance to try it out? It's a little out of my normal impulse buy price range, so I was hoping that someone here had already TOFTT'd it. The app description indicates it's currently on sale for 50% off, but I can't imagine it would succeed at a $10 price point unless there's something that I'm missing.
01-08-2013, 03:48 PM
Joined: Sep 2012
Posts: 689
Does seem a tad high if the original price is $10. Namely if a new release. Sure hope they rethink their marketing plan!!

01-08-2013, 04:12 PM
Joined: Jun 2009
Location: Wisconsin
Posts: 2,356
I'll give it 1 week for $2.99
2 weeks for $0.99
4 weeks Freebie

I'm done with certain instant buys... I see the price dropping after a week for most of the games that I still need to play.
01-08-2013, 05:34 PM
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Posts: 11,325
I'm definitely intrigued but, even after watching the video, not entirely sure about the nature of gameplay.

1) Do we start a map with the rails in place or do we need to setup the network from scratch?

2) What are those various "power-up/card" looking bits in the upper right of the screen? Are these triggerable abilities or just a listing of the trains coming up?

3) While I assume the terrain in the maps we're playing is pre-scripted, are the trains that spawn once the game starts randomized?

4) Does the game track our best scores on each map? What is this score based on?

5) Is money gained via deliveries just a cute way of indicating your score or can we spend that money to buy upgrades?

Tim "Lord Gek" Jordan, Game Consultant
Twitter: LordGek
GameCenter, iTunes: Lord Gek
My iTunes Reviews
01-08-2013, 11:52 PM
Joined: Jan 2010
Location: Michigan
Posts: 2,164
Alright, so after having the game on my wish list, staring me in the face for a few days, I could no longer resist. I jumped in at the $4.99 asking price. So far, I'm not disappointed. In general, I would say that the game is a cross between time management, traffic control and line drawer. The production values are extremely high. Graphics are crisp and appear to be retina. Menu and interface are laid out nicely. No sign of IAPs.

There appears to be a good deal of levels to tackle (60 based on the cheevos). Levels are completed based on a star system. The score is determined by the money you earn on a given map. Money is earned by delivering the trains to the proper color station. You lose points when trains crash. There are Game Center achievements and leaderboards.

I messed with the demo level, which is basically just a map with trains on it. Think of it like a sandbox where you can mess with the basic mechanics of the game. There's also a decent tutorial. I had a good understanding of the basics by the time I completed it.

The game plays like this. When a scenario starts, you are given a fixed layout with some track pieces and train stations on the board. You use a simple line drawing mechanic to complete a track connecting the stations in an efficient manner. At track intersections, you can control the direction of travel. Think of it like a switch that determines which section of track that the train will travel. There are also periodic signal lights which you can use to stop or reverse trains. You'll have to use your time management skills to build the tracks while simultaneously routing and directing the traffic. I can see the higher levels getting pretty hectic.

There are a number of different types of trains (20 or so), each with their own unique characteristics. There is a handy Trainopedia that you can access from the main menu to get a summary of all of the trains. Along with the different types of trains, you're also given a number of powerups. Powerups appear to be fixed for each specific scenario. Powerups do things like speed up your train, spawn new trains, remove trains, spawn service trains to clean up wreckage, etc.

To answer a few of LordGek's questions...

1. Scenarios appear to give you the same starting configuration each time. There are some track pieces and train stations on the map at the start of the round. You can then fill in the gaps and add train tracks on a grid system that appears when you touch the playing surface. The grid gives you straight and curved track pieces. The intersections and signal lights are filled in automatically. With the grid system and line drawing mechanics, there are limitless track configurations that will be different every time you play.

2. Powerups. I covered them briefly in the other part of my mini review, I can give some additional detail. The powerups definitely add to the gameplay. A timer determines when a powerup can be used again. Similar to how powerups appear in Kingdom Rush, the little symbols on the screen will appear to refresh or fill up as time passes. When the powerup is completely lit up, it is available for use.

3. I can't fully answer this question yet. The starting map and terrain are scripted. Trains spawn at train stations and need to be routed to the proper colored station to earn money/points. There are powerups that will allow you to spawn new trains based on the station you choose, so I would venture to guess that the spawns are not fixed. [*Definitely random!]

4. There's Game Center leaderboards that appear to be just high score. It doesn't look like it is map specific. Maybe there's an endless mode I haven't encountered yet. I'll have to look more closely. Just having some sort of high score leaderboard is a plus to me.

5. Money is the scoring system. More money=higher score. There aren't any upgrades that I have found.

I hope this is helpful info. I'm not disappointed at all in my purchase. I'm not familiar with the Shortline Railroad game that is mentioned in the description. I just know that this appears to be fun, well polished game on its own merit. It's well suited for the iPad and has elements of time management, line drawing, and traffic control that have proved popular in other games.

And, now I'm going back to play...or maybe bed. Either way, I've spent more time on this write up than I did playing, so I still have a lot to learn. I'll do my best to answer other questions. So far, though, I'd say the game is worth the $5 sale price. Maybe not $10, but my verdict may change as I get deeper into the game.

*Edit: After playing a bit more, I wanted to add some clarification and corrections to my previous review.

The scoring system is more complex than I originally thought. Levels are time based. You earn money for delivering the correct colored train to the same colored train station. The money you have decreases over time, presumably to simulate the cost of running your business. You also lose money when you crash your trains. The level ends successfully if you last the entire time indicated. You are then scored based on money earned and trains directed. You lose if your money ever goes negative, usually due to a crash, but also possible if you are not delivering enough trains fast enough.

Scenarios appear to be completely randomized. Good news for LordGek. It looks like a similar amount of track and train stations will spawn at the start of a level, but the location and layout is different each retry.

I'm still not sure how the leaderboard works. The heading at the top of the leaderboard says "Monetary Board" so maybe there's some sort of endless or high score board that I haven't located yet.

Xbox Gamertag & Game Center: CzarCastic

Last edited by CzarCastic; 01-09-2013 at 12:27 AM.
01-09-2013, 01:59 AM
Joined: Feb 2009
Location: Saratoga, CA, USA
Posts: 11,325
Wow, CC, you've sold me on this BIG TIME!

I couldn't have asked for a more detailed breakdown.

Tim "Lord Gek" Jordan, Game Consultant
Twitter: LordGek
GameCenter, iTunes: Lord Gek
My iTunes Reviews
01-09-2013, 02:12 AM
Joined: Jan 2011
Location: Ankh-Morpork
Posts: 2,543
Hmm, I'm not fully convinced just yet, but in the meantime, every time I look at the screenshots I'm compelled to play another round of Ticket to Ride.
01-09-2013, 04:02 AM
Joined: Dec 2012
Posts: 2,358
What is the closest thing to Railroad Tycoon on the iPad?
01-09-2013, 04:41 AM
01-09-2013, 06:30 AM
Joined: May 2012
Posts: 130
A bit disappointed it wasn't the A-Train/Railroad Tycoon I was hoping it to be, still on the fence on this one.