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PSP Video Game Review: Mobile Train Simulator + Densha de GO! Tokyo Kyuukou Hen (Mobile Train Simulator+電車でGO! 東京急行編 -)

Interesting concept of using full motion video… but compared to other “Densha de GO!” games on the PSP, this video game is average at best!

VIDEO GAME TITLE: Mobile Train Simulator + Densha de GO! Tokyo Kyuukou Hen (Mobile Train Simulator+電車でGO! 東京急行編 -)

PLATFORM: Sony PSP

COMPANY: Taito

“Mobile Train Simulator + Densha de Go!” is another train simulator game released for the PSP but how does it rank among the many train simulator games out for the portable console. Let me just say that I enjoy these train simulator games. I enjoy DDG for the gameplay, the ambience and the fun of obtaining chain combos and earning money to open up new routes. With “Mobile Train Simulator + Densha de Go!”, this game is quite different with the fact that instead of 3D environments and train, this time around, it’s full motion video.

The following game is published by Ongakukan and in conjunction have teamed up with Taito’s “Densha de Go!” team (for the video) to provide you two games. Same tracks but different presentation. Where DDG has focused on Japan Railways, this game focuses on Tokyu Corporation and lines in Southern Tokyo (Den’en Toshi Line, Toyoko Line and Oimachi Line). One may assume that because the game utilizes full motion video that it’s a better game. So, is it?

GAMEPLAY:

Before I compare this game vs. the difference with the other Densha de Go! Titles on the PSP, here are the differences between the two games: MOBILE TRAIN SIMULATOR is like an arcade game. Unlike the bells and whistles of graphics that are seen on DDG games, your treated by numeric counters. Without having to worry too much about passengers getting injured or falling over, the benefit is that you have a little more leeway when it comes to speeding up and braking. Unfortunately, you don’t have as much leeway in the actual game because several errors and the game is over.

DENSHA DE GO! Is similar to the other previous DDG games but with a different control scheme for braking and gas, the indicator of speed and station nearing you is on the bottom and you get to see the mascot and and passengers voice their concerns about your driving skill more.

This version of MOBILE TRAIN SIMULATOR + DENSHA DE GO! versus the DENSHA DE GO! Series on the PSP: This differences between this DDG versus the other DDG games on the PSP.

– One thing missing is the map indicator (showing you how many stations you will be visiting per route). There is no map indicator in the game.

– No chain combos or money to purchase new routes. This game is based on your skill of doing well and earning points.

– In the DDG games, you lose when 10 of your passengers are all lost. But you can continue a new game. You can continue on DDG but not on MTS.

– Controls are much more different. This version of DDG is up for brakes and down for gas on the D-Pad.

– The indicators are on the bottom and not as good as the indicators on a DDG game. You guess a lot more in this game of when to brake and you need to get the train within a meter or exact.

– When preparing for the next station, some want you to wait close to two minutes before you can get off and go. Sure, maybe in real life, a conductor or driver may have to wait but I didn’t want to wait just to start playing again.

– The mascot pops up if you mess up where in a tyical DDG game, mascot/host shows up only on tutorial.

– No ENJOY MODE in this version of DDG.

GRAPHICS:

I have to admit that I was very excited to hear that a train simulation was incorporation full motion video. What I can say is that when you are moving at a fast speed, the graphics look very nice. It’s just when you are driving at a slow speed or slowing down, things start to get laggy and instead of fluid video, it becomes frames of video and it can get ugly. Also, with DDG, since it’s 3D, they have more creativity to work with in terms of weather conditions and riding night and day, cloudy, rainy or sunny. You don’t have that in this game. My biggest complaint on DDG games are the cardboard cutouts of photos of people in the station, in this game you get to see people moving around. Which is nice!

AUDIO:

Missing are the sounds that I enjoyed from the DDG games. The music at the stations, the ambiance. Also, there is weird sound distribution of some audio coming from the right earbud and not the left and this happened quite a few times.

GAMEPLAY:

All in all, “Mobile Train Simulator + Densha De Go!” is a good buy for train simulator fans. The use of full motion video is nice and I can see fluidity on the console versions but to do this for the PSP was rather ambitious and when it works, it works and looks great. When it slows down, then the problems of using video is very evident when it slows down by frame or lag.

I do like the utilization of the characters who are shown to vent out their frustration when you do something wrong. All in all, the graphic presentation and having it in video was amazing, unfortunately the lines are more residential than metro and you may find yourself driving underground in tunnels quite a bit. I like the fact that you get two different versions of the game using the same line. Different presentations for each game and I enjoy that there are two different games which adds to the replay ability. What I have a problem with this Ongakukan Densha de Go! Version of this game is the fact that it’s too different from the Taito DDG games on the PSP in terms of gameplay.

I enjoy the DDG games a lot and the new interface and how things were laid out were not too my liking.

With DDG games having the indicators on the right, it made it easier to navigate and enjoy the scenery. By putting it into the bottom, you miss out on the scenery if it’s a short ride to different stations. With this game being video based, you want to see the scenery. I felt that the DDG games on the PSP was much better in predicting where to brake and speed up. I felt that the brakes were not as responsive as I would have liked. And the fact that you need to be within a meter or exact was not to my liking. Last, the user-friendliness of this game is friendly for non-Japanese readers. You can figure it out the controls easily but what is missing is the tutorial found on Taitou DDG games. This game does not have a tutorial route.

So, overall, the interface of “Mobile Train Simulator + Densha De Go!” was too different for me that I didn’t enjoy it as much. There is a lot of potential for a full motion video densha game but what can be done on the PSP is quite limiting and the slow frame rate during slower speeds combined with a different style of interface for the Densha de Go! Version was too different from the other DDG versions that I couldn’t get excited for it.

OVERALL SCORE: 79%/100

PROS:

+ Game is in full motion video

+ Two games in one

+ Simple gameplay and easy to figure out


CONS:

– Video has glitching during slow down
– Limited to the video captured which there are no weather conditions, night driving or other sights that the other DDG Pocket games on the PSP have.
– No ENJOY MODE for newbies.
– Audio is not exciting compared to the other Densha de Go! PSP games.
– Controls and interface is to be desired
– Arrival indicator on the bottom instead of the side of this DDG version is just bad.

Reviewer’s Score: 7/10

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