The Iron Horse (iPhone/iPod touch) Review

Choo choo…I always wanted to have a toy train set. While cost prohibitive and are almost certain to be space hogs, model trains can be really fascinating. In any case, did you know that trains, otherwise known as  railroad locomotives earned the moniker “iron horse”? It’s also the title for Appstar Games’ debut iPhone/iPod touch game, “The Iron Horse“.

The Iron Horse is a pretty simple game. In each level you’ll have your locomotive moving on the main (background) train track. The objective here is to build up your train and to do so you need to tap the screen as soon as the end of your train lines up near a  stationary train car on the foreground track, thus connecting them. You are only allowed 3 misses per level but although it may sound easy, adding new cars makes your train go faster, making it harder to connect new cars at speed!

For every three times you add a car by lining up the cars perfectly, you’ll get a free turn. This allows you to automatically connect to a car no matter how fast your train is going. The best part about free turns is they are accumulative and are brought forward (if not used) from level to level.

Inter-spacing the normal levels are bonus levels. These bonus levels are the best places to gain points as they represent somewhat an “endless mode” with no limit to the number of stationary cars to connect with. However, should you miss one, you’ll lose all your points. Players can cash out on their points and end the level (if they think they had enough) by tapping on the caboose that appears occasionally on the main track.

Graphics wise, this is one seriously pretty game. The sight of the train moving along the tracks with the beautiful backdrops inspired by the Americana landscape, you can’t help but feel like being part of history. The first locomotive you get in the game is “The General”, followed by other classic designs such as the Zephyr and the Chief. The sense of speed is there as well, and things do get frantic once your locomotive is going very fast and you’ll be tempted to the free turns that you have been saving up all this while.

I did encounter a small problem while playing the game. I’m a right-hander and naturally I would tap on the right side of the screen (you can tap anywhere to connect the cars, the game focuses on timing) and there’s a small information button on the lower right corner. I actually hit that button several times by accident when I first started playing the game, but I learned to tap higher up the screen since then. That minor niggle aside, the controls for the game is so simple and lends to the fact that the game is easy to play, but difficult to master.

One major reason to do well in the game (other than to see the other locomotive models in the later levels) is that it implements OpenFeint. Online leaderboards and achievements are made available to the game via this feature and I must admit, I’ve been practising.

The Iron Horse is a fun casual game, inspired with a dose of history and nostalgia of the railroad. Click here to check it out over at the App Store.

One special thing to note is that the creative team that published this game consists of Garry Kitchen and David Crane. That’s right, the two of them are retro game luminaries and their combined body of work includes Donkey Kong (Atari), Keystone Kapers, Bart vs. The Space Mutants, Pitfall, Pitfall II, A Boy and His Blob and Night Trap. No wonder I felt a sense of familiarity when I received Garry Kitchen’s e-mail regarding “The Iron Horse”, I probably read about him/or his work on Retro Gamer or something. And yes, it’s actually pretty cool getting an e-mail from a legend when all you’ve been doing is reading about him.

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  1. IMCurtain.com May 12, 2010

    Nine Over Ten 9/10 » The Iron Horse (iPhone/iPod touch) Review…

    The Iron Horse is a pretty simple game. In each level you’ll have your locomotive moving on the main (background) train track. The objective here is to build up your train and to do so you need to tap the screen as soon as the end of your train lines u…

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