3-D Ultra TrainTown Deluxe
There are few family games that appeal to both adults and young children equally. Often, parents must guide the youngsters through a simplistic game with no challenge for anyone over the age of seven. 3-D Ultra TrainTown Deluxe is a genuine delight for train fans of all ages and skills. After the children have gone to sleep, many parents will sneak back in to try some of the harder challenges and dream up new tracks.
3-D Ultra TrainTown Deluxe faithfully reproduces model trains in miniature town settings. Each car and engine not only looks good but functions just like in the real world. The towns and landscapes are well designed with imaginative animations. The first few moments of each level are spent looking at little autos driving past the tracks or a roaring dinosaur waiting to be fed. The game has a slightly cartoon-like feel about it but considering the intended age group, it's fine.
The sounds are geared for children as well. The voices instructing conductors on the job are hit or miss, depending on the situation. For example, the announcer's voice for missions on the moon is funny and fitting and has the air of urgency adopted from the B-movies of yesteryear. The little sister that forces you to sort train cars, on the other hand, is nasal and insipid.
Fortunately, the train sounds are excellent. Players will pray for more cattle on the track for a reason to yank the whistle chain just one more time.
Since the train simulation is designed for younger players, realism suffers a bit. The game doesn't have the complex controls of Microsoft Train Simulator nor does it use the sophisticated marketing system of Railroad Tycoon II. 3-D Ultra TrainTown Deluxe is a model train simulation -- plain and simple. Players wanting a more sophisticated experience need to look elsewhere.
Although not as sophisticated as some real-life train simulations, gameplay is still challenging. It begins rather easily with simple deliveries, car sorting tasks and even basic math. Some of the challenges are variations of Memory and Hangman, which gives 3-D Ultra TrainTown Deluxe educational value in improving number/letter identification, remembering and problem solving skills. Later, the game gets appropriately tougher, which may cause some younger children to bow out in favor of creating new tracks.
The track editor is easy to use and gives access to every track shape used in the game. The Smart Track option is very helpful for laying out only pieces that can connect to existing track. Even young children can pick up the knack for laying track in no time. Objects such as miniature farms, houses and factories can also be placed to customize any area. While plenty of thought went into designing the editor, little things were left out. There is no way to lay elevated track to make a bridge but an automated Bascule drawbridge is available for over-water travel. Pre-made tunnels are included in some areas, like the kitchen, but there isn't a way to place new tunnels. This aspect will likely annoy only those who are expecting a life-like recreation of their childhood Lionel set.
Gamers fascinated with explosive action and split second decisions may not appreciate 3-D Ultra TrainTown Deluxe's slow and leisurely pace, despite the fact that nearly all the train jobs are timed. It's a puzzle game with a view, not to be rushed. While the game appeals mostly to younger children or newer gamers looking for non-threatening puzzles to unravel, experienced players will find this an enchanting experience if they give it half a chance. ~ Christopher Allen, All Game Guide
Trains are faithfully reproduced. Towns and animation are sometimes childlike. It's not a photo-realistic simulation nor does it try to be one. ~ Christopher Allen, All Game Guide
Some voices are well done but others are downright annoying. It's hard to lay off of a whistle that sounds this realistic. ~ Christopher Allen, All Game Guide
Fine entertainment for all ages but it will mostly appeal to the younger crowd. Making your own tracks with the editor is easy and fun. ~ Christopher Allen, All Game Guide
Challenges will take a while to finish. After completing the game, make your own jobs with the level editor or download more off the Internet. ~ Christopher Allen, All Game Guide
Gives a rundown of the cars for those who can't tell a Covered Hopper from a Cattle Car. In-game tutorial jobs are a good jumping off point as well. ~ Christopher Allen, All Game Guide