After playing and enjoying The Voxel Agents' The Gardens Between, I then tried their straightforward tile sliding game Puzzle Retreat (released around 2013), and so the next one for me to try was Train Conductor World, released around 2016. This is apparently actually the third game in a series that started with a game called Train Conductor from 2009 that's only available on iOS, and then there was a sequel called Train Conductor 2: USA, that apparently did have an Android version at some point but is also only currently available on iOS.

It would have been interesting to have played the other two games first (although they aren't free to play), but Train Conductor World is an arcade type of game and stands on its own. The game apparently is similar to an early mobile video game hit called Flight Control, also released in 2009, and also no longer available on Android (although it too apparently still has a version available on iOS). Anyway, in both games you're tracing out paths for vehicles and avoiding collisions. The gameplay in Train Conductor World is set up with a world map (in this case, of Europe), and each stage is a different European city. Each stage has a different layout of train tracks, and although it's not too hard to pass each stage at its thee different difficulty levels, it's much, much more difficult to accomplish this perfectly. To earn a gold star for the stage you have to not only steer all the trains to their correct path and avoid crashes, but you also have to do it without pausing any train for more than a moment.

There's a meta game where, straight out of the Pipe Dreams games, you earn tiles and have to arrange them on the world map to connect cities. At the beginning it can be slow going for F2P players to build up a stockpile of tiles. You can earn them by completing stages or grinding for coins (earned by getting a train to its correct destination in a stage), or, once a day, watching an ad. However, as you progress, some of the cities you link up will generate coins for you, and logging in a couple of times a day will unlock a couple more tiles. Adding to the slow going is the fact that higher rarity tiles are required to place tracks over different types of terrain (e.g. forests). There's also a mechanic where you can trade in five tiles of a lower rarity for one tile of a higher rarity.

All this complexity only to unlock more stages makes the game more of a slow burn than would be ideal, and this is exacerbated by the high real world prices for a set of random tiles (it would've been easier just to pay to unlock a certain number of additional stages). As a way to pad out the experience, since you'll have only a very small number of stages at the beginning, the game has special missions pop up on stages you've already fully completed, such as intentionally cause a certain number of trains to crash, or collect balloons dotted around the stage. There's also a Chaos* mode that unlocks after you get a perfect score in Chaos mode, which is an open-ended stage where you're basically competing for spots on the leaderboard. Neither of these modes seemed very appealing to me, so for the most I just stuck with trying to get perfect scores on the regular stages.

Train Conductor World is a fun pick-up-and-play title that players of all ages should enjoy, although it will take a lot of attempts to get perfect scores and a lot of logins and replays (or a lot of real world money) to accrue enough tiles to unlock every stage. I enjoyed my time with the game, but this is a game that I would recommend that people should try and if you like it and have an iOS device, I imagine it will be more gratifying to pay the flat $3 or so for one of the previous two games in the series and be able to make all of their stages accessible at once, rather than have to deal with the drip feed of stages in this game.

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