Train Frontier Express

Is the 2011 Indie Game Summer Uprising the Xbox marketplace version of being Punk’d?  We’re down to the final three.  We have Train Frontier Express, the game I’m about to execute for Crimes Against Entertainment.  The remaining two, Chester and Redd seem like they could be okay, but I’ve already gotten multiple people tell me “well, if you hate (name of Uprising game) you’re really going to hate Redd and/or Chester because it/they suck.”  Thanks guys.  Very reassuring.  Oh well, I suppose Take Arms could save this abomination.  UPDATE: Chester does notsuck.  A full review will be up tomorrow.

Onto Train Frontier Express.  It’s a sandbox builder game where you design a train.  Duh.  You’re given a limited amount of tools to do this with and you’re left on your own to figure out how stuff works.  There’s no tutorial.  There’s also no objectives.  It’s just you, a sterile map, and some fairly unintuitive controls.  You can lay down track, alter the terrain, or lay down a fairly large amount of scenery.

Things started off bad right away when the game threw me into the deep-end of the pool without so much as teaching me how dog-paddle.  There’s absolutely nothing resembling a tutorial.  There’s also nothing in the way of a first-time guide to help you get the controls down.  I briefly attempted to pull a pussy move and consult the instruction manual, but then I remembered that this is an Xbox Live Indie Game and THERE IS NO MANUAL!  I’ve seen a lot of bone-headed design choices since starting Indie Gamer Chick, but this one takes the cake.  Hell, even generic platformers remember to include one (walk with left stick, jump with A, end of tutorial) so there’s really no excuse here.

After screwing around for a while and making a mess of my map, I finally got the hang of things (not really but I was running out of patience) and thought I should start over from scratch.  I decided early on to scrap my original plans to recreate the climatic scene from Back to the Future III once I learned the on-board train controls were about as useless as tits on a boar, and besides, none of the cars look anything like a DeLorean.  Instead, I would make a simple oval that would stretch past the mountains before coming back around.

This seemed to work as the new tracks I laid down cut right through the mountains.  Feeling adventurous, I decided to go as far as the map would allow.  After a bit, I ended up on the edge of an ocean and the track automatically curved away from it.  I decide to begin to return to the point of origin, only to find that I had somehow doubled back the wrong way.  Suddenly, my perfect oval resembled an Etch-A-Sketch done by me while having a seizure.  Actually that makes no sense, as any lines drawn during one would shake away as a result of the seizure.  But if they didn’t shake away, that’s what my map would look like.  Anyway, being a woman and thus having no sense of direction, I couldn’t locate my starting point and eventually ran out of track.  Sigh.

I started over once again, this time with the goal of making a small, simple oval for which to watch my train complete just a single circuit.  That’s all I asked for.  I cut the track through some mountains and completed the circuit.  Off the train went, and I was like “well, the game still blows even worse than Raventhorne but at least I made a working track.”  And then the train stopped.  And it didn’t start again.  I was totally miffed.  It’s not like it got stuck in the mountains either.  It was on a perfectly flat piece of terrain.  I did notice that the tracks seemed to be sinking into the ground a little bit.  Figuring that a piece of terrain was blocking the train’s path, I started lowering the elevation so much that I could have created an entire new river.  The train moved about two inches and then stopped again.  I zoomed in for a closer look and noticed no remaining turf that seemed to be in the way, but I attempted to lower the ground anyway.  Again, the train moved for a second and then stopped again.  So basically any microscopic speck of Earth grounds the whole thing to a halt.  Which is really odd considering that I saw the train pass right through a fucking tree when it was traveling through the mountains.

I have nothing against simulation games.  I likely would never claim to be a huge fan of any of these types of games, yet they’ve always proven to be a huge time-sink for me.  I’ve lost countless days to Roller Coaster Tycoon, The Sims, Sim City, Civilization, and similar titles since I was a knee-high to a grasshopper.  Hell, I even owned Railroad Tycoon II on the Sega Dreamcast, which I picked up about ten years ago in a clearance bin at Circuit City for $1.99.  Even adjusted for inflation, that’s about fifty-cents less than the cost of what I paid for Train Frontier Express today.

In short, Train Frontier Express, like almost everything else in the 2011 Indie Game Summer Uprising, is a total train wreck.  The lack of any tutorial, absence of goals, and the horribly conceived control scheme derail this one right out of the station, and it never manages to get back on track.  Anyone choo-choo-choosing this game for the event must have had some serious loco motives.  I can’t imagine how bad the games that didn’t make the cut must have been, but the buzz is a few of them got railroaded.  Zing.

Train Frontier Express was developed by Team Train Frontier

240 Microsoft Points are pissed that they used the obvious “make the trains run on time joke” way back when the Chick reviewed Starzzle in the making of this review.

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Thank you so much to Gear-Fish, an awesome source of Indie news and reviews, for the IndieGamerChick Uprising logo seen above!

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About Indie Gamer Chick
The most read Xbox Live Indie Game critic in the world.

15 Responses to Train Frontier Express

  1. Joe Fawkes says:

    Damn, I thought it was great indie game. What do you think indies games are? They’re not meant to be perfect. See how much better you could do with 25mb? Oh well… I guess someone has to point out negatives in a 3 dollar game. I guess a simple editor is too much for an indie game ‘reviewer’ and my 3 year old son is out making awesome maps in abreeze. Plus who wouldn’t know the controls, when there right there in your face. It tells you what buttons to press.

  2. Alex Davis says:

    What the hell is this? A fucking negative review of TFE? A 3 dollar simulator indie game? No tutorial? who needs one it’s simple enough. i hope you didnt download this in hopes of a fancy train simulator you get for 50 bucks like for ur pc. its made for fun, hell, its also a model train simulator. and you train didnt move… maybe release your brakes, or take it off idle… just some hints. so yea, im 100% agaisnt this review. 😛

  3. Brandon says:

    My brain short-circuited from all of the puns in that last paragraph, but what I have to say is mostly aimed at the other commenters. While I think this review was a little harsh, it was also honest. I believe the Train Frontier guys have a decent start to a project, but it’s not a finished one. People aren’t going to make smarter design choices or learn anything at all unless you call them on the mistakes. Rewarding someone just for trying isn’t enough, even if it’s an indie developer. However, I’m guessing that Team Train Frontier will take the criticisms and hopefully make some changes needed to bring this up to snuff. Like I said, the potential is there for a great game.

  4. curtis237 says:

    Pretty okay game it got some gliches but the game just came out im sure it will get alot better

  5. Austin says:

    I’m gonna have to agree with John and Alex. It’s pretty great, this review was extremely negative and harsh as one commenter previously stated. It wasn’t all that honest, IMO, I haven’t experienced many glitches, and I should know. I play this alot, online mostly. Only glitch I really encountered is the invisible track glitch. Plus Team Train Frontier is whipping up an update, with new locos, cars, bug fixes, and some overall updates. With a new user friendly prop editor. The game was released not too long ago, it’s gonna be buggy, of course. Any gamer should know the first intitial release isn’t the best impression of the game. After some bugs have been listed, fixed, and patched up; it’s gonna be awesome. Well, awesomer because it is already awesome. I think this review (personally) needs to be redone. Thankfully nobody asked you. -Kairi The reviewer acted immature *FARTS*, and definetely doesn’t seem to have the patience for simulators Odd because I had noted that I had played many simulators. I guess they don’t teach reading comprehension or spelling in Virginia. If you want the ‘honest’ And by honest, he means one that agrees exactly with his point of view review, check armless octopus. I too, am agaisnt this review… And also against having 3rd grade level spelling abilities.

    • Kairi Vice says:

      I guess Gear-Fish is dishonest because they didn’t like it and encountered a ton of bugs as well. Anyway, I think anyone who says any review that doesn’t agree with their point of view must be dishonest is pretty laughable, so thanks for that. Keep enjoying Indie Gamer Chick!

  6. Darren says:

    Haha Austin you rule! You totally told that bitch. Game is good, not great. Although (we’re not the one reviewing lol) She may think shes cool sitting behind a computer screen but in reality we all know she isnt ;p Ha and Mr. Fawkes hell ya! 3 year old boys have more common sense than an adult girl (apparently) lol. Mr. Davis agree 100% with your comment. Can’t wait to see the aftermath of this comment! Shes gonna be pissed

  7. Fredrick Johnson (AKA) The Punisher says:

    Lol just wanted to point out those IP addresses are the same, but are off an educational systems internet server. So they are probably a bunch of friends in the same school commenting on your review. I have to agree with all the commenters. I agree the review was harsh, but I do agree flaws do need to be pointed out as well. It’s called constructive criticism, I wouldn’t review that extreme with negatives, as a game developer, making games are difficult and we need to know our flaws. We also like seeing positive influences in reviews, do you know how awesome it is reading a review and them stating how much fun they have had? It really tickles the creator. Plus these reviews help us fix our mistakes and jump back in with a newer and improved product and; not to mention, a new attitude. Well good day to everyone reading.

    • Kairi Vice says:

      If I gave every game a positive review, I wouldn’t be a critic. I would be a cheerleader. That’s not what I’m trying to do, obviously. When I say a game is good, I want it to mean something to my readers. Because for a lot of XBLIG reviewers, it means dick shit.

  8. Mike McCall says:

    You may already have heard this, being 2 months later, but the train that moves while you’re laying track is just there for show. You have to switch to the Control mode to drive it yourself. I don’t see what your fuss is about. Sure there isn’t a tutorial but the button layout is on screen all the time… unless it wasn’t back in August? I suggest you take another stab at this one now. It’s a model railroad simulator – there aren’t any objectives because you make them up yourself, like running a real model railroad. It’s the only train game on Xbox Live (that I’m aware of), and it supports multiplayer with up to 3 other trains running on the same track :).

    It’s a time-waster, casual game for anyone who enjoys trains, or (like me) anyone looking for a simple, inexpensive wysiwyg rail sim.

    – Jolan

  9. Superfake2000 says:

    Love this game.

    Oh no, I didn’t play it. But it made this review possible, which was very refreshing. Thank you for that;)

  10. termedsaturn942 says:

    now its getting a PC port 5 and a half years later.

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