Making tracks with, er, Tracks: Toybox Edition

International Track and That's It

When I was a kid, I had a train set. Well, technically, it was my brother’s train set, but sometimes he deigned to allow me to play with it too. Came from a brand called Brio, who made these lovely wooden track pieces and associated train ephemera, that you fixed together almost like jigsaw puzzles. We only had a certain number of curved pieces, and over the years accrued a handful of extra bits and bobs to enhance our little railway; a little wooden turntable, an engine shed, a few overpass bridges and the like. Not one of your expansive, room-spanning Hornby jobs. Just a little train set.

Trains have an inexorable appeal. Not so much the minutiae – I don’t know how they work and have never really cared to find out. In fact, almost all machinery is a mystery to me. Ditto every single aspect of science. Don’t care mate. Don’t care how toast gets toasted. Who has the cerebral real estate to retain information like that? As far as I’m concerned it’s magic. Anyway, I uncharacteristically digress. Trains have an inexorable appeal, especially when you’ve built the track yourself. Pushing a toy car along is one thing, but a toy train on an actual purpose-built railway? You might as well have the power of a god. The regimented nature of their movement comes to resemble a metaphor for our own life’s journey. Yeah, try getting one of those out of your Fuzzy Felt.

Sadly, train sets are somewhat expensive; you’ll never really be satisfied with just a basic loop so you’ll need to keep expanding your railway, which is going to gradually bleed your wallet dry. Thankfully, then, here’s Tracks for Nintendo Switch to expediate the entire process and offer a similar experience at a much more economical price point.

 It’s a very simple game to pick up, but impressively full-featured – track placement is so intuitive you’ll soon be like Gromit going mental with the spare bits at the end of The Wrong Trousers. It's not perfect - there's no touch-screen input and no autosave, though if you have enough patience to piece together a bleedin' train set, you have enough patience to play Tracks.

You can drop your trains in a variety of locations, though none of them quite resemble my childhood living room floor so on that level it does not live up to my nostalgia. It's certainly not a fast process, even when you know what you're doing with the interface, but the pay-off of getting to trundle your locomotive around a pastoral little scene that you yourself have crafted is pretty, well, dope.

This is really the sort of toy-game-thing that I needed at present, what with the world in turmoil on both the grand stage and a very personal level - sorry for not blogging as much as I used to, Nauties - and I think that Tracks: Toybox Edition's cosy charms might be more up your alley than you think. After all, there's a nice sense of order to a train track, isn't there? You know where you are with train tracks. Unless you get on the wrong train and end up in Putney again.

A review copy of Tracks: Toybox Edition was kindly provided by the publisher.