Mini Metro – Manage Your Own Subway

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MiniMetro is an elegant subway management game from developer Dinosaur Polo Club. Game play, a matter of laying out subway routes in a growing metropolis, takes only minutes to grasp. Yet the emergent complexity of your task leads to hours of enjoyable and quite challenging play. The genre of MiniMetro is hard to say. I’ve heard it called both a sim and a puzzle game.

The truth is it has elements of both (as well as a feature or two I associate with arcade games): you are given a map of an urban area composed of stops your train lines must connect. Your job is to choose the routes for the lines as well as which lines to upgrade with extra train cars and which stops to build interchanges at. As you play more stops are added, putting a greater strain on your system. The game ends when one of your stations remains over-crowded for too long, crashing your transit system. For every week you successfully keep the transit grid running smoothly you’re rewarded with a few more resources: some extra tunnels, a new subway line, etc..

Mini Metro

(Worth noting is that passengers are simulated individually. They are represented as shapes corresponding with the stations they want to arrive at. Thus it is easy to tell at a glance where things are going wrong. Unlike, say, Sim City, where an esoteric formula determines where businesses will flourish, the mechanics of MiniMetro’s simulation are overtly visible. I find this pleasing.)

All this sounds typical of a sim. But while MiniMetro definitely is about simulating the movements of passengers on a subway system, it stylized so as to focus solely on a design puzzle not on a recreation of reality in all its minutia. Money, scheduling, and staff are not part of the game at all. Construction is instantaneous. And if you choose to tear out a line and completely reroute it this can be done at any time at no penalty. Your task is simply to figure out how to lay out the pieces you’ve been given to deal with the ever increasing

Mini Metro

This stylization shines in one of MiniMetro’s best features—its minimalist graphics. The entire game looks like one of those iconic London tube maps (originally designed by electrical draughtsman Harry Beck—hence the circuit-like abstracted clarity). Your “city” is composed of a general layout of bodies of water and brightly colored tube lines connecting geometric nodes. So confident are the creators of the resulting visual charm that screen capture is built into the game. The confidence is warranted.

Still in Beta at the moment, MiniMetro does have some rough edges. The most prominent is the complete absence of sound. (The developers assure that audio will be implemented any day.) More irksome is clumsiness in the interface. Rerouting lines where you’d like them is sometimes rather more difficult than the click and drag interface seems to warrant. Also, lines sometimes fail to properly bend to avoid water when it seems they should. But none of this was a significant obstacle to my enjoyment—especially as a pause button at least allowed me the time to do the needed fiddling. I still hope these wrinkles get ironed out, though.

Mini Metro

Gameplay is fundamentally open ended. There is no point at which you’ve “solved” a city, rather you simply keep building until your system collapses. Nor is there any question of memorizing a working strategy for a given city: the stops one begins with, and the order in which they are subsequently added is randomized so that no two playthroughs are the same. This is where play felt arcade-like: even though your task is more typical of a sim or puzzler, your ultimate aim ends up being to beat your previous score, that is, to transport more Londoners (or Tokyoans, New Yorkers, etc.) than you managed to last time. It’s addicting. It’s difficult not to respond to a loss with the though “I can do better” and begin again.

To sum up, MiniMetro isn’t quite finished, but it’s already a really solid choice for people who want to grapple with a difficult design problem in a very attractive package.

Buy Mini Metro Steam CD Key on Kinguin


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