Is Transport Tycoon for iOS too close to Locomotion?

The management simulator still breathes

When the original Transport Tycoon debuted on PC in 1994 it gave players the opportunity to plan, create and run their own intricate transport network. Without knowing it, this would define the isometric simulation and strategy games for the next decade. Unfortunately, this genre has changed radically over the years in great part by the monetization poison used in the likes of FarmVille. Other efforts to launch simulation staples such as Theme Park on mobile have diverted to mindless tapping games where you wait for timers before doing any playing.

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As a massive fan of the true PC simulation classics like Transport Tycoon and now an almost exclusive iOS gamer the news of a new mobile Transport Tycoon are like a dream come true. The game creator Chris Sawyer and the iOS studio Origin8 recently announced a new version of the game specifically for iOS and Android to be released later this year. You should know the London-based Origin8 for the Sentinel series on iOS, which made itself a name during the Tower Defence craze on the App Store a couple of years ago. Chris "Tycoon" Sawyer will be involved in the development directly and the teaser trailer shows he is still keen to put his name on the box. This is the real thing, not an EA experiment.

A genre spoilt by micro transactions and poor controls

Anything by EA, King.com or Zynga would guarantee shoehorning mind tricks to spend on in-app-purchases, which is not even the case for this release. In an interview with Gamasutra, Sawyer explains Transport Tycoon for iOS and Android will be a traditional premium game: "The game doesn't suit the free-to-play revenue model, and I'm also not a great fan of the way free-to-play titles try to make money through in-game purchases or advertising." I suspect fans of the franchise will be so eager to get their hands on this that won't mind paying upfront for the game or any additional content inside as long as the gameplay remains loyal to the original and fun.

The game is very much true to the Tycoon label and hasn't been watered down whatsoever - it's probably the most complex game ever to be launched on mobile platforms

Previous attempts to adapt this kind of micromanagement simulator have been a failure that doesn't need to be revisited. See for instance the short stint of OpenTTD — a clone of the 1994 original open sourced and tweaked with user improvements — was a catastrophic playability exercise. For a game that relies so heavily on windows and menus, ideal for mouse and keyboard, the touch controls weren't accurate enough. On a positive note, EA's Sim City mobile version (based on Sim City 3000) used larger target areas, chunky buttons to make it sort of enjoyable. And at the time EA wasn't pushing free-to-play yet.

Early development render of Transport Tycoon from Origin8

Early development render of Transport Tycoon from Origin8

What most people remember from the game is thanks to OpenTTD

What most people remember from the game is thanks to OpenTTD

Curvy railway tracks and brick viaducts inspired by Locomotion

Curvy railway tracks and brick viaducts inspired by Locomotion

The new development team has posted some early screenshots of what would be the new Transport Tycoon. As a little teaser, Origin8 is showing the environments without labels, controls or any HUD. We'll have to wait for the control scheme chosen. What are left are the backgrounds of a game that looks closer to [Locomotion than Transport Tycoon](http://www.origin8.com/blog/news/transport-tycoon-first-work-in-progress-screenshots-and-more/ ). Just judge for yourself remembering Transport Tycoon never had curved railways but diagonals.

On the same interview Chris Sawyer goes to explain why he thinks the traditional isometric style works well, mentioning an "updated interface and controls to suit mobile platforms." Reading the announcement and the new logo shown on the trailer I was expecting some visual refresh for the mobile version — something more casual and approachable, yet faithful enough for the train enthusiasts. While I never liked much the style and colour palette on Locomotion, I do agree the graphics on Transport Tycoon Deluxe are perhaps outdated, especially on Retina devices.