The second game with more modes and bonuses and less concrete jungle!
VIDEO GAME TITLE: Densha de Go! Pocket: Chuuousen Hen (電車でGO! ポケット 中央線編 )
PLATFORM: Sony PSP
The second PSP game for the “Densha de Go! Pocket” series is here with the Chuuou-Sen Hen, the line that bisects the Yamanote Line (the first PSP DDGP release) in Central Tokyo. The goal is to drive the orange densha (train) aka Kaisoku and the white train (futsu) through Tokyo Station, Shinjuku, Kanda, Ochanomizu, Yotsuya, Kunitachi and over 20 more stations.
And now, the drive through Tokyo is through areas where you see more homes, warehouses, store buildings as opposed to the major concrete jungle in Tokyo that is on the first PSP release.
Densha de Go! Games are games that are an acquired taste. In a million years would I ever thought I would be into train simulators but since playing the original Playstation game and for nostalgic reasons, remembering the “riding the densha in Tokyo” experience, I have enjoyed the games. But how does the second game compare to the first?
Since I prefer the city locations and more excited driving through the busy concrete jungle in the heart of Tokyo as such in the first release, I score this second release a bit higher than the first because it has a lot more features than the first game.
DRIVER’S WORK: Your role is to drive the train to each destination and taking care of your passengers New to this game is the ENJOY MODE where you don’t worry about timing or arrival schedule but speed and brake.
CONDUCTOR’S WORK: Your role is to make sure the train goes to the right destination and you signal the correct time for the announcement. More or less a way to watch the train drive to destination from outside of the train in different camera modes.
DRIVER’S ROOM: Your stats
BUSINESS CARD EXCHANGE: This will allow you to trade business cards (think of it as a trading card) with others who own the game to play different trains they have accessed via wireless.
MUSEUM: Train Introduction and videos that you have opened
OPTIONS: Sound, Display and Controller settings
Starting off as a driver, your goal is to maintain the speed of the train (a indicator on the bottom right screen tells you of upcoming speeds (KM/H) that your train will need to be and also utilizing the brakes. The goal is to make it to your destination (the next stop) and stop exactly where the indicator says you have to stop. Go passed it or way before the stop area and you will receive negative points. Brake to hard and do something crazy and you will injure your passengers.
You start off with figures that represent your passengers (a total of 10) and you have to make sure you don’t lose them all. By missing a stop or by braking too quickly, you will lose passengers and when you lose them all, your game ends. Fortunately, you can continue and start over.
You start off with three levels. The first is a tutorial and when you scroll through the list, you see several opened levels which you can test your speed and braking skills through several stops on the Chuuou Line.
By successfully completing your stops and beating a stage, you earn money which can be used to buy new levels in the game. Otherwise, you replay the stages you played to earn the money needed to access the next level.
Also, by doing well, you will be able to access several bonuses and videos.
As conductor, it is very different. It’s actually quite easy. The main goal of the conductor is making sure you announce the right stops. This may be difficult for non-Japanese readers or those not familiar with the Japan because you are told where to go, then given a map, you will need to select the area where you are going. Fortunately, the instruction booklet has the translation of the city stops (or you can select via direction pad and guesstimate the cities quickly). Otherwise, the main reason for this mode is to watch the train from the outside (overhead or sideways) as it is driving towards a destination.
YAMANOTE vs. CHUUOU: Gameplay is a little more challenging in Chuuou because there will be times you will be guessing the speed that you must go (more than likely 80-100 kmph). Where the first game kept an indicator of how fast you go, for some reason Chuuou does it a bit less. Also, since you are going at faster speeds, you will definitely need to time your braking to the stops much sooner than Yamanote Line. Also, you will notice hills that increase your speed when going downhill, so fine tuning with your speed decisions come in to play much more in this game. Also, arrival time in certain points of the game is even more important.
Also, new to the Chuuou Line is the light indicators (similar to stoplights) which you will see a few times when going through the line. Seeing a yellow light means you go 45 km/h, 3 white lights at 25km/h
Last, with the addition of ENJOY MODE, people who want things easier can now just worry about just the basics…speed and braking.
The graphics are very well done. I played the original PlayStation version and the PSP version is such a big leap in terms of graphics. How they captured the buildings, trees and local areas around the station while riding the train is beautiful. Only in Conductor’s Work Mode, will you see something which I didn’t like which was the people at the station. They are photo cutouts of people waiting. I wished that Taito would add possibly several 3D characters waiting or moving around the station like real life than just photo cutouts of people that are just standing there.
The difference with this game versus the last is that you get more scenery and you see more homes and warehouses, whereas the first game (Yamanote Line) features many buildings. Also, marker indicators have changed in this game and you will see more light indicators now on your indicator.
Also new is museum mode which if you do well, you unlock weird things such as UFO’s and other Taito trademarks (Space Invaders).
The audio in this game makes the game very much appealing. Hearing the music of the station before boarding to the female voice explaining about procedures for people to leave the train and much more. Also, the conductor talking about upcoming stops and much more. Just like riding a real train around Tokyo.
In Driver’s Work: Controls are actual very simple. Directional pad up and down to control speed and square button to break and X button to release breaks. That’s pretty much it. In Conductor’s Work, direction pad selects the stops you are announcing and the shoulder buttons will be used to play the audio needed when riding the train.
USER FRIENDLINESS TO NON-JAPANESE READERS:
The game is actually very user-friendly for Driver’s Work mode. Although the tutorial is an animated character explaining the game, diagrams and arrows telling you to press a button to break or to speed up is pretty self-explanatory. For Conductor’s Work mode, it may seem unnerving at first if you have to select a city when the map comes on. Fortunately, you have seconds (enough time) to quickly guesstimate the stop that you are going to next by selecting stops on the map as quickly as possible. I do highly recommend looking at the manual since there are lights which indicate a certain speed you need to go by.
All in all “Densha de Go! Pocket – Chuuou Line” is a very enjoyable game for the PSP. It’s really hard to promote a game like this for American video gamers and will appeal to those who enjoy trains and want a simulator or those like myself who reminisce about being in Japan and riding the JR trains everyday to get to destinations.
The second game adds a little more to the train experience which makes the game a bit more challenging and fun but also the addition of the ENJOY MODE, makes it easier for people who are challenged by the gameplay. Also, the wackiness of MUSEUM MODE and the addition of the Narita Express (yes, that long ride from Narita Airport to Tokyo is in this game and can be earned).
As I enjoyed the first game (Yamanote Sen-Hen) because you ride through the busy Tokyo areas, Chuuou Sen-Hen is more about driving through neighborhoods and warehouses which you see a bit more scenery but nevertheless, if you need to choose one game to get, because this version features less high rises and buildings and more scenery, with two DDGP Tokyo games out, you now have a decision of which Tokyo backdrop that you prefer to drive in.
I still have the same feelings for this game that I had with Yamanote in exact stopping but I learned that the rule of thumb is not to be exact and that stopping before the exact point is still good.
Nevertheless, this game does what the game is intended to do. Operating a major train through Tokyo and stopping around 25 stations while maintaining happy passengers and getting them to their destinations in time. For me, it’s more of a nostalgic feeling of riding a train to various locations and Tokyo (minus the large crowds) and thus making it enjoyable.
OVERALL SCORE: 86%/100
+ A train simulator going through major stops through another line of Tokyo but more near residential versus in the metro area makes things different.
+ Addition of ENJOY MODE to make the game easier for people who find the game challenging.
+ Wacky additions to MUSEUM MODE
+ For people wanting more of a challenge, with less reference to a speed monitor and downhill speeding makes focusing on speed a major factor in Chuou Line.
+ You can play the driver or the conductor
+ Ability to open up new routes and bonuses
+ Business cards allow trading of trains with people who have the game
+ Driver’s Work mode is pretty user-friendly for non-Japanese readers
+ Quick load up time
+ Chuuou Sen-Hen is more scenery based with more homes and store buildings and greenery and less concrete jungle.
+ The ability to open the Narita Express route and reminisce of that long ride from Tokyo to the airport.
– Although the control scheme is simple, maintaining happy passengers and breaking exactly in the stop areas of the station is a challenge.
– Less use of speed monitor in this game makes guessing speeds a challenge.
– Wireless trading is great but chances of finding people living outside of Japan owning the game may be a bit rare.
– Conductor’s Work mode maybe a challenge for non-Japanese readers or people familiar with the stops.
– In Conductor’s Work mode, I wish there are people moving around instead of photo cutouts of people in line waiting for the train.
– For people who want negligence in the forms of bad accidents, you are not going to find it in this game. This is not Burnout Legends.
– If you prefer city lights and tall buildings, then the first game – Yamanote Sen-Hen is for you because driving through neighborhoods, store buildings and warehouses may not appeal to certain people.
– BEING NITPICKY: Taito’s opening theme sounds and looks like it came from a Japan Railways training video and yes, uses the same theme as the first game.
Reviewer’s Score: 8/10