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|Train Simulator Games, Lego Video Games
Welcome to the late '90s, where 'Lego Loco' has been unveiled to creation enthusiasts. Lego is getting into video game development, finding the determination to replicate the success of the Sim series that Maxis was revelling in. They needed to find their own answer to the bizarre simulation games entering the fray - someone needed to provide stiff competition to grandiose titles like 'SimAnt' and 'SimCopter'.
Lego, of course, had the answer. Just over a year after the release of their well-received island builder 'LEGO Island', came another transport oriented simulator. Lego Loco saw the light of day along with Lego Creator in November 1998, in the same vein of their counterpart publisher seemingly just releasing games for the hell of it.
Lego Loco is of particular interest - it was released with an established brand behind it. Yet the game appeases such a small niche of Lego users with a focus on transport and not Lego's broader user base. The game did find some success though, backed by the notion it sparked the development of a whole series of train simulators in the future. What makes this game tick to find that kind of engagement?
Home is where the train is
Like many simulators of the modern-day, Lego Loco doesn't really have a means to an end. The 'toybox' at the beginning of the game contains clickable tiles to place buildings, roads and tracks to create a functioning Lego world. There's not much involved to get you started except a Lego station master demanding in his finest gibberish, that you build a train station at once.
The game's goals are really self-developed being presented with such simple mechanics - you build what you want your town to look and feel like. You do need to construct a functioning train system to invite immigrants from other areas in the Lego Universe and make sure their mail is delivered. The connection of infrastructure between the towns is oddly satisfying. Anybody that's a completionist may become a bit obsessive over the idea of ensuring there are no boundaries for travelling Lego men.
While the game is more of a train simulator if anything, some of the real fun does admittedly come in annoying the little Lego people that inhabit the towns. You can pick them up and move them to other locations much to their discontent. You can get in their good books though by opening up your 'toybox' again and building estates, housing and amenities in your little town. No barriers, upgrades or costs involved in any construction, just click and construct right from the start.
Building without boundaries
The whole concept of Lego Loco seems a bit redundant, but there is quite a bit of fun to be had in the game. The idea behind the gameplay is replicating that of those who build model train sets, or more importantly, Lego train sets in real life. You may construct a living, breathing world right from the get-go with train infrastructure proving the connecting lifeblood.
There are no boundaries or progressions in the game - it's a creator's playground and easily the most enticing feature. It's for those who don't want to spend time worrying about urban intricacies like paying water bills or sweeping up after tornado's as you find in SimCity or other Maxis Sim games. Lego Loco is very accessible to everyone and allows for an expression of creativity without the hard work - even if you are not a Lego fan.
The grasping features of Lego Loco are the completion aspects of building a functioning world, not too different from the train simulators we have seen today. The simple objectives and ready-made palette of building tools present freedom of play immediately and allow players to tackle any infrastructure issues their way. It's a basic game, but one you can get hours of enjoyment from.
- Pleasant all-around city simulator that you can get very creative with
- Very satisfying completion feelings
- Clever and easy-to-use interface
- 2D graphics and sprites are quite immersive
- The gibberish language of the Lego men gets very annoying quickly
- Can get boring with limited objectives
- Limited board to build with