Transport Tycoon needs no introduction, but I'm going to introduce it anyway. You see, as popular as this title was, many of us managed to miss it. Actually, that probably doesn't come as much of a surprise. A game about transporting people and products around isn't exactly the easiest sell. Yet if you take the time to dig in, there is a wealth of content here that's sure to hook you for a very long time. But while the the interface is now completely touch friendly, it doesn't make diving into this game any easier.
Transport Tycoon first launched in 1994 to both critical and commercial acclaim. Its creator, Chris Sawyer, developed one sequel a few years later before handing over the reigns for future releases. This Android port of the original game was designed and directed by Sawyer himself. His company and development partner Origin8 recreated the game using the code of the original release, and they concentrated their efforts on revising the controls for touchscreen devises. The remainder of the game remains largely untouched, and unfortunately, it shows.
I didn't play the original title, so I can't compare and contrast every possible detail that's changed since the PC title hit store shelves two decades ago. What I can say, though, is that the materials provided to explain the game to new players frankly don't do the job well. The help guide is literally that, an info dump that serves more as a reference than any sort of tutorial. You could teach a college course using the content available within. This wouldn't be so bad if the interface didn't look like, well, something brought back from the 90s. In all honesty, it would be easier on players to just kick them out to an online wiki than to expect them to glean information from this abominable mix of colors and UI elements.
The three provided tutorials are easier to follow, but they are still especially text heavy. I wasn't confused at any point during the hand-holding process, but I walked away feel more overwhelmed than anything else. Over half of the UI elements were not touched on, and clicking around to decipher them myself left me feeling like I was trying to drive a car I wasn't prepared to drive.
From the sound of things, implementing touch controls took up the bulk of the development team's energy, and their efforts did not go to waste. Touches are responsive, and were it not for the dated graphics (which are obviously not faux-retro), I would have no problem believing that this game was originally developed for Android. You can drag the map around with the touch of a finger, use pinch-to-zoom to zoom in, and spin two fingers to rotate the map.
Actually, that last gesture offers a less than pleasant experience. The map rotates instantly, and while this may not be all that jarring when clicking the rotate arrows adjacent to the compass in the top right corner, it's disorientating when relying on the gesture instead. Still, this does little to detract from what is a job well done.
Transport Tycoon looks old, except when it doesn't. You see, screenshots would suggest that the graphics have been untouched since the game's original release. But as it turns out, the new interface looks completely different, the UI has just been given a pixelated appearance that helps it fit in with the remainder of the game.
Unfortunately, the new elements don't always match up with the old. The high-resolution splash screen that first opens with the game gives the impression that you're in for a more modern experience than you would expect. The title screen actually does a good job of providing a retro-feeling modern interface, but as soon as you click on any menu item, the feeling of polish fades. The text is sloppy, leading to a UI that feels like it was slapped together as a rushed school project. This new font persists throughout all of the game, but I feel this was one aspect of the appearance that would have been better off left untouched.
Since the original Transport Tycoon's UI elements would look fundamentally out of place on a mobile device, the team had to come up with a new look that matches the old one. Unfortunately, they didn't quite nail it, and the game feels a tad stranded between being a simple port and a thorough remake.
Returning Fans, Jump Here
For you guys, I'll keep this simple. Who cares about the graphics, you already know what to expect. Who cares about the help guide - you already know how to play. Put bluntly, you already know you want this game. So here's all you need to know. You don't have to worry about anything that would truly ruin your experience. There are no IAPs to concern yourself with, I didn't experience any crashes, and you now have the ability to upload saves to Google Drive. This is a big deal, because when it takes this long to learn and master a game, it's a shame to have to start over when switching to a new device.
So have you bought it yet? Good, because you're going to enjoy it.
Everyone Else, Should You Hop On?
This isn't an easy question to answer. Overall, this is a solid game. It's lengthy, it's engaging, and even with the relatively high $6.99 price tag, you're getting your money's worth here. But you're going to have to be patient. The learning curve is steep, the tutorials don't quite do a good enough job, and you might play for a while feeling like the kid who was taught to swim by being thrown into the deep end of the pool. If you choose to board this train, you will likely enjoy where you end up, it just may take longer than you'd like to get there.