To be honest, I think this game was thrown at me because
nobody else knew exactly what to do with it. It isn't
every day we get steam train simulations to look at.
This one has been around for some time on other machines
but only now have Hewson given it a belated debut on
package consists of a fold out instruction booklet,
historical notes, an explanation of how a real steam
engine works and the game itself, all packed into a
medium sized cassette case. The game is a simulation
of the famous engine that used to make the London to
Brighton run during the early 1930s.
manual clearly explains the controls and contains a
map of the route the train must take, listing all the
stations along the way. Coupled with the explanation
of the inner workings of the locomotive, the player
can soon gain a firm grasp of the purpose of each control.
To make things easy, however, various options are available
once the game has loaded, which allow limited control
of the train. This way, the computer can look after
certain areas of operation while the player gains familiarity
in other areas.
types of run are also available. The player can select
timetable runs, stopping at each of the stations in
turn, non-stop runs or attempt to break the speed record
from Victoria to Brighton in the record breaking run.
Different runs assume difficult loads and variable schedules
to complicate matters for the player. There is also
a 'problem run' which tests the player's abilities to
deal with the various difficulties that may beset a
driver. During any run, safety speed limits are imposed
along various areas of the track. Thus a player's performance
is judged at the end of the run in three areas; economy,
safety and timekeeping. Finally, there is a demonstration
main screen layout is dominated by the centre view which
displays the controls of the engine and the view of
the track ahead along with certain landmarks (such as
Battersea power station), all shown as black and white
line drawings. The graphics are not astounding but they
do give enough information for the player to assess
his or her surroundings. They are, unfortunately, a
the right of this area are two displays. One is for
gradients showing, in both linear and numerical form,
the gradient of the ground currently beneath the rails.
The other displays the distance in miles from Victoria
and to Brighton, both displays are constantly updated
throughout the run. On the left of the main display
are three areas. At the top left Speed, Coal, and Water
levels are shown. Below that is a realtime clock. In
the lower left area there's a signal display. At the
base of this screen, scrolling messages appear to inform
you of any problems.
player can control the whistle, fire, regulator, brakes,
cut off, blower, injector, firedoor and damper -- all
in all, pretty thorough control. The game has been cleverly
designed in so much as it allows the player to gradually
work up to the most complicated style of play whilst
having variety in the intermediary period. There are
all kinds of skills to be acquired, from learning how
to cope with emergency stops, handling signals and making
the supplies of coal and water last, to the relatively
simple task of pulling into a station (especially at
Brighton where the train will crash if you overrun).