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Treasures of the Past – Transport Tycoon

/ Dec 14th, 2012 No Comments

Transport Tycoon Box Art

“Treasures of the Past” is a series intended to clue readers into old games that had such great playability a decade or more ago that they’re still fun to play today. While the graphical and gameplay dynamics are ancient, these games can still provide hours of gameplay to this day, and can be found for a low price, or even for free. It takes a special game to intrigue audiences past its original inception, so if you’re in the mood for an oldie-but-goodie, reach into our treasure chest, hit that internet browser, and enjoy!

Transport Tycoon Box Art

Transport Tycoon

The first game to be examined in this series is a Construction and Management Simulation (CMS) game called Transport Tycoon. Chris Sawyer and MicroProse, the brain-child and developer behind the popular Roller Coaster Tycoon series, created this game well before gaming enthusiasts got a good ride from a game where they made rides. Transport Tycoon places gamers in a world on the edge of the transportation explosion, when trains, planes, and automobiles begin to take people and goods from locations far apart. Players are the owner of a transport company, and it’s their job to connect all these places with the tools at their disposal, before their competitors beat them to it.

While this game does have some competitive aspects to it, the game was also created in 1994. Needless to say, video game AI was laughably bad back then, so the game never really had a true competitive feel to it in single-player. The other downsides of the game also come with age. Ancient pixelated graphics on an isometric 2D plane may turn some off for its simplicity. A selection of jazzy and rag-time tracks gets utterly humiliated when played on the minimalistic MIDI players of old. An argument can be made that these old features can be appreciated as “relics” of a gaming age that’s long since been made obsolete, but these are not the best reasons to play the game. To put it simply, you should play this game because there’s just no other game like it out there!

What makes the game so intriguing to this day though is the building and design aspect. There’s something about making complicated transportation networks that just appeals to a player. The allure is probably more similar to Roller Coaster Tycoon, where you build a ride to see it used, and to see it intertwine with the environment, more than to achieve certain objectives or break certain goals. Transport Tycoon appeals to gamers who like to design and create worlds, similar to how you design and create cities in Sim City. The only true challenge the game presents is more about manipulating terrain and budgets. It also presents little mini-challenges by offering subsidies for transporting certain things from source to destination, but the subsidy is so minute that there’s no real benefit in single-player.

The original Transport Tycoon was codded in DOS, which literally made the game obsolete when the world evolved past DOS based operating systems. The game had such a following however, that independent programmers completely reversed-engineered the game and shared it as an open-source and completely free game they called OpenTTD (short for “Open Transport Tycoon Deluxe”). Today’s incarnation of the game not only preserves all the builder-delight moments it did back in 1994, but it is also available on all operating systems. The open-source code also allows for heavy user-modifications which could open up the world to different environments, different challenges, different vehicle sets, and even different AIs so that the game can actually be played competitively. OpenTTD also allows for an easily adaptable multi-player experience, so that players can take their competitive juices to a new level.

If you’re looking for a simple and unique gaming experience, take a treasure out of our chest of old games. Do a search for “OpenTTD” and try out Transportation Tycoon today, for free!

Danny Berkman

Danny Berkman

Associate Contributor at Gaming Illustrated
Danny Berkman is an avid gamer specializing in RPGs, 4X games, and MOBA.
Danny Berkman

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