Developer: Dinosaur Polo Club
Publisher: Radial Games
Platform: Nintendo Switch (eShop)
Category: Puzzle, Simulation, Education & Arcade
Release Date: August 30, 2018 (Worldwide)
Mini Metro is described by developer Dinosaur Polo Club as minimalistic subway layout title and that description could not be truer. It first came out on PC in 2014 and mobile in 2015, but now has made its way over to the Nintendo Switch and this addictive puzzler is perfect for the console.
Your goal in Mini Metro is to create an ever-growing network of subway, rail, or tram stations in order to better serve a highly demanding population of passengers. Stations are represented by shapes, such as circles, triangles, and squares. Other shapes include crosses, stars, pentagons, and so on, but these are more rare and only in the harder difficulty stages.
The passengers themselves are shapes of their own and when a triangle passenger appears in a square-shaped station, it means he or she wants to get to a triangle shaped station. In fact, they don’t have any specific preference as to which triangle station they want to get to, so long as it’s a triangle. In order to serve these passengers, you are given the ability to draw lines between stations which represent the rail tracks. If you’ve ever been to a city with a metro system, you will feel a sense of familiarity with the map you have in front of you.
Of course, you may be wondering what is the challenge with Mini Metro and I can honestly say it becomes very difficult, but without becoming frustrating and you will have to make do with the resources you’re given. Initially, you can have up to three train lines, each with a different color and as you progress more stations appear on the map. Sometimes stations can even change shape, which of course means you’ll have to adjust your lines to make sure that everything is in order.
There are also not an infinite number of trains you can deploy and when the game starts you are given three trains. Essentially one per line you’re given, but if you want you can use two on one line for a maximum of four per line. Carriages are also made available as powerups, allowing each train to carry more passengers thus make your lines more efficient, especially as the lines get longer and bigger.
A clock is situated on the top right corner of the screen, which allows you to pause or speed up the proceedings and it also shows you the time of the day you’re in. At the end of every Sunday, you’re normally given one additional train and then you can choose between two available power-ups, such as one additional line, a carriage, interchange stations, or tunnels which lets lines pass through rivers.
Part of the puzzle mechanics are to make the correct decisions on the fly and the proper way to use your powerups. One wrong choice is an easy way to lose the stage and have to start from the beginning. If there are more than six passengers waiting then a countdown timer starts and when it expires you will lose.
There are three modes you can play: Normal, Endless, and Extreme. Normal mode is the main objective-based mode and there are 20 stages to try and conquer. Endless mode is when you want to take your time and means you don’t have the six passenger limitations and can’t lose. Finally, Extreme mode is when you can’t make alterations to your lines which means you have to be extra careful when you place down or expand your lines. You can also take part in a Daily Challenge option which lets you play a specific challenge once a day.
Graphically, Mini Metro is simple and minimalistic, but the art style does help with conveying a chill and relaxing atmosphere. The colors are vibrant and easy to help make out what your metro should look like. It all runs smooth and can be played with any combination of buttons, sticks, and touch-screen controls. Above all, this makes you feel like you’re really planning a rail network of a densely populated city. The soundtrack consists of tracks from Disasterpiece and really help shape in providing a more worthwhile gameplay experience.
Overall, Mini Metro is a clever puzzle title that has an addictiveness which will keep you coming back to play. The feeling of progress and just getting lost in its simplicity makes for a rewarding and calming experience. Mini Metro makes for a great escape in the video game landscape from some of the larger titles known to take some time to complete. There are no real cons to speak of, as it nearly flawlessly gives you rewarding puzzle challenges without being frustrating.
The Verdict: 8/10
*Review Key Provided by Radial Games
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