Trains, eh? A fantastic idea for a Nintendo 64 game in 1999. And Let’s Go By Train! 64 was at the cutting-edge of train sims.
A Bit About Densha de Go! 64
Taito’s title was a Japanese-only affair. It actually came out on the Dreamcast first. Sega’s last console launched in late 1998 over in Japan.
And this title was on the system as Densha de Go! 2 Kōsoku-hen (電車でGO!2 高速編—”Go by Train! 2: High Speed Volume”).
Taito then decided it was far too essential to not have it on the Nintendo 64, so the world got Densha de Go! 64 in 1999. Well, not the world. But Japan got its vehicle simulation game.
The point of the game is to act as a train driver. And you blast around Japan’s impressive railway system taking in the sights.
So, the point of the game is kind of a chilled relaxation type affair.
Japan’s trains are legendary. They’re lightning fast and work like magic—a remarkably efficient system where, if one is late, it can make front page news across Japanese media.
We get the impression the country is proud of this efficiency. And rightly so.
Compare that to life in England, where privatisation has left British rail devastated. Massively overpriced, massively unreliable, packed out to the rafters, and just generally crap.
So, yeah, it kind of makes us dread the sight of trains. However, we’d still love to head to Japan and give the whole shindig a whirl.
As for Densha de Go! 64, we must say we can see the appeal of it. This genre of games is pretty relaxing to get involved with.
There are 13 trains and 16 missions to complete across railway lines such as the:
- Hokuhoku Line
- Akita Shinkansen Line
- Ōu Main Line
- Tazawako Line
- Keihin-Tōhoku Line
- Yamanote Line
- Tōkaidō Main Line
Just sit back and tour around a virtual Japan, eh? Not too shabby a gaming experience.
Due to its Japan-only status, Densha de Go! 64 has gone down in history as one of the more obscure and unusual Nintendo 64 games.
It actually took advantage of the console’s Voice Recognition Unit (VRU), one of the few games to do so. Another being Nintendo’s Hey You, Pikachu! in 1998.
That allows you to announce stations to passengers as and when you arrive, adding a little bit of extra realism to the shindig.
Taito did a good job with it, too, as the legendary game mah Famitsu handed the title a solid 32 out of 40. Good going! Choo choo!
The series continued on, with Taito’s last effort in 2004 called Densha de Go Final!
And Square Enix released a bunch of 20th anniversary celebration titles in 2016. So, this type of thing is still popular.
And there are loads of vehicle simulation games around these days. But, back in 1999, one could take a whirl on your Nintendo 64, which was pretty unique for the time.
Even if you had to live in Japan to do so. Choo!
I never played this one, but I did once have Trainz (with a z) – this over a decade ago. As I recall, it properly modelled the physics. This made it possible to (a) build track with a jump in it and see if the train would gracefully arc across the gap and carry on down the line (it didn’t); (b) build a train with about 200 coal cars and 5 locomotives, get it rolling at top speed towards a dead-end terminus, then try to stop it before the inevitable happened. (The inevitable always happened); and (c) build a really sharp turn and/or complicated points setup, and see if a train will go through it at 100 mph. You might get the impression from all of this that I was less interested in seriously running a sim-railroad with sim-timetables, etc, as behaving like a total lunatic and causing mayhem, and that I am Not A Serious Railroad Enthusiast. But really it was an artistic expression of conceptual dadaism, using computer-simulated trains as a metaphor for the state of world politics at the time. A bit. Well, on Wednesdays anyway…
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I don’t judge you on any of that. Like in The Sims, most people use it as a chance to construct horrible situations with the digital individuals in the game. Totally worth the time and effort.
But there are some odd vehicle simulations out there. I keep having Farming Simulator recommended to me on Steam. And Truck Simulator. I guess it must be quite relaxing to play them.
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I used to have a job working for a trucking company, back when I was a student. I learned a lot about grammar (there’s a particular word that can be used as a noun, verb, filler, junction, etc…) But why anybody would want to relax pretending to do that particular job beats me. And I drove a tractor, digging up potatoes, once. Again, when it comes to a sim…
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I’ve not done anything like that, I worked in a clothes shop once, though. How come there’s not a sim about that?! Gap in the market!
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