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Game Review #384: Mini Trains (Nintendo Switch)

Reviewer: Steven Green

Developer: The House of Fables

Publisher: QubicGames

Category: Puzzle-Simulation

Release Date: 07.19.2019

Price (at time of review): $5.99

Buy Mini Trains from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Choo Choo

Mini Trains is a puzzle and strategy game at its heart as you are planning out train track routes for your at-home diorama town you have built. In this title you are collecting stars with your multi-colored trains and trying to get the best score possible based on the layout you decide to go with. Build tracks, avoid obstacles, don’t crash into other trains, and play through 50+ levels of train directing goodness.

Diorama Subtlety

There isn’t a true story to this title, but there is a little fun in its design to allow you to interpret what is happening around you based on the setting. This isn’t just building trains across the west or anything like that, you are clearly playing as a person standing in a room over their diorama. The controls mimic this sentiment, and the ability to look around the room at your various furniture and items around you allow for a sense of specificity when it comes to what is happening. This touch is very subtle, and not all that important, but I enjoyed that they were trying to specifically show you are an enthusiast as my own grandfather was also a toy train fanatic and built his own diorama town in a similar setting. Just a personal touch that I enjoyed personally.

Conductor Chaos

The basic gameplay loop consists of trying to reach the end of each level after maneuvering through the map and collecting all the stars. Seems simple enough, right? However, as you progress you must avoid trees, rocks, fences, and other obstacles that are placed in your way in order to limit your track options. You also have the addition of multiple color-coded trains later that must be utilized to collect certain colored stars. In this part you must avoid crashing, and direct the trains around each other, in sometimes intense ways, in order to grab your stars and reach the end. This game isn’t entirely just a building sim however, as you must also at times change the direction of the tracks on the fly in order to direct the trains properly through your build. The addition of switchers, turn-arounds, and the like also adds some other options for tougher stages as you progress, as well as adding an extra touch of strategy in this otherwise super simple and straight-forward train sim.

Lotsa Levels

One issue that pops up pretty often in stage-based puzzle games is a lack of content at times, or games that overstay their welcome. Finding that happy medium is tough in puzzle titles, and unless you utilize the Switch’s perfect jump in and jump out ability with its mobility then sitting down and playing through this title will be enjoyable for you, as it is the perfect length, in my humble opinion. The stages aren’t overly complicated, and have multiple ways to complete each one, and so pumping through levels is pretty easy, but with a gradual difficulty progression and the slow introduction of new mechanics you have a really nicely crafted puzzle title. As I continued, I found myself having plenty of content. What’s interesting about this title is it sits in a very niche corner of the gaming space. It is a great puzzle game, so that opens things up, but being a train simulation is something that most might be turned off by. I, for one, am an expert Sid Meier’s Railroads! player, and so I wasn’t having an issue with the train aesthetic in the slightest, but for most this is something that might not be the type of puzzle game you are looking for.

Low Poly

Puzzle games aren’t known for intense graphics, and they aren’t necessary. But even though there isn’t a good reason for the game to have more realistic graphics, I found myself wishing they were there. The low poly art style is fine and doesn’t affect gameplay outside of smaller obstacles on the maps sometimes being a little hard to see. However, with the type of game this is I really wish we had a little more realism in what we are looking at, and a vibrant diorama in the level select section of the game would have really taken this game to the next level.

In closing…

Mini Trains is a surprisingly good puzzle game, and its simplicity in mechanics paired with the simulation (realistic) aspects of trains is something that I found quite fun for someone with a gaming background such as myself. However, the lower graphical settings, the lack of serious difficulty, low replay ability, and niche aesthetic are all things that will hamper this title as a whole when it comes to consumption by the gaming audience at large. I can definitely recommend this game for anyone who has played and enjoyed train-based games in the past, and any puzzle aficionados can consider this one as well.

Score: 6.5/10

Buy Mini Trains from the Nintendo Switch eShop here.

Follow the House of Fables








*Review Code Provided by Qubic Games

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