Densha de Go! (series)

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Densha de Go! (series)
Basic Information
Taito, Unbalance, Ongakukan, Square Enix, Gree
Train Simulation
Microsoft Windows, PlayStation, PlayStation 2, PlayStation 3, WonderSwan, Game Boy Color, Nintendo 64, Saturn, Dreamcast, Mobile Phone, PlayStation Portable, Wii and Nintendo DS

Densha de Go! (電車でGO!, Densha de GO!,? Go By (electric)Train) is a Japanese train simulation game series previously produced by Taito but, beyond Densha de Go! Final, are now produced by Square Enix. The game originates from a 1996 arcade version. There are also PC versions released by the Japanese publisher Unbalance. All of the games in the series are available in Japanese only. The latest chapter in the series was released on July 22, 2010 for the Nintendo DS.

Overview[edit | edit source]

Each Densha de Go title contains actual train (or tram) routes based on real services in Japan. For the most part, the user's task is to drive the train and adhere to a very exacting timetable, including stopping at stations to within as little as 30 cm of a prescribed stopping point, ideally within half a second of the scheduled arrival time. While the specifics vary slightly between versions, generally speaking along the way, the user is expected to obey speed limits and other posted signs, sound a warning for work parties along the track, arrive at between-station waypoints on time, and perform similar tasks.

Densha de Go varies from the Train Simulator series from Ongakukan primarily in that while the Ongakukan series uses video taken from cameras mounted to the front of real-world trains for its graphics, Densha de Go titles rely upon computer-drawn graphics. The upside to the Ongakukan approach is that the drivers view is video realistic. Upsides to the Densha de Go approach include that the gameplay can be significantly smoother (as the video-based approach is only as smooth at slow speeds as the video frame rates allow) and the gameplay can be more varied, as the programmers can dynamically change weather, time-of-day, other traffic, and similar effects.

Neither series, however, can be accurately called a true train-driving simulator, as that is not their focus. Titles such as BVE (Boso View Express), Microsoft Train Simulator, and Trainz do a more faithful job of realistic train control and physics simulation. However, to simply call Densha de Go a "game" and the others "simulators" would likewise be somewhat unfair, as the titles simulate many other aspects of the railroad experience (including fidelity to the outside world and station environment, sounds, traffic, and signalling) far more faithfully than programs which concentrate on the technical details of train driving.

Densha de Go! Shinkansen EX was released for Wii on March 1, 2007 in Japan.

The current state of the franchise[edit | edit source]

The last major title in the series, Densha de Go Final! was so named to signal that this was to be the end of the line. While still popular in an absolute numbers sense, the series had lost the novelty of its heyday while development costs for individual titles continued to climb due to the extremely detailed virtual worlds that needed to be created.

However, Taito and Ongakukan have subsequently released a few co-produced titles for PlayStation 2, PlayStation Portable, and PlayStation 3 with the title Railfan. Taito also divided the four routes in Densha de Go! Final into separate titles and released them on the PSP system. These can be seen broadly as extensions of the Ongakukan video-based game legacy with elements of Densha de Go user interface and gameplay. Development for video based titles, it should be noted, is significantly less than for Densha de Go style drawn titles.

Elements of the overall Densha de Go user interface live on in other train driving games and simulators as well, including in a third-party extension to the BVE Trainsim series of games that attempts to add elements to the Densha de Go Final! gameplay.

The Japanese mobile game development company Gree continues to develop mobile versions derived from the franchise for phones in Japan.

Rejuvenation of the franchise[edit | edit source]

In April 2010, it was announced that Square-Enix had taken over the franchise and would release Densha de Go! Special Version -- Revived! Showa Yamanote Line] for the Nintendo DS on July 22, 2010.[1] This was a departure from the traditional publisher and distributor of Densha de Go, Taito. Densha de Go! Special Version—Revived! Showa Yamanote Line offers a variety of trains to control, from the early Yamanote Line up through the current rolling stock. Exclusive to the Nintendo DS, reportedly the controls are completely stylus driven, unlike the variety of custom controls offered in non-handheld versions.

Densha de Go! controllers[edit | edit source]

File:Controller final.jpg
Densha de Go! Type 2 Controller being played with Densha de Go! Final on PlayStation 2

A large number of hardware train controllers were available for a number of platforms (PC, PS, PS2, WS, etc.) for which Densha de Go was available. This included versions that had buttons, levers, and pedals to suggest real-world train controllers, including traditional brake-and-throttle train controllers, "mascon"-type controllers (single lever for throttle and brake), shinkansen controllers, and tram controllers (ostensibly similar to the traditional brake-and-throttle style, but with different styling).

One of the most extravagant controllers for the Densha de Go! series was the Shinkansen Controller, which was released with the Densha de Go! Shinkansen EX game for both PC and PS2 (as well as for the Wii version). The Shinkansen Controller comes with a LED screen display of speed and controls, and a foot pedal to blow the horn.

The Type 2 Controller (pictured right) is recommended if you are playing many of the PlayStation 2 Densha de Go! releases. Unlike some of the other controllers, The Type 2 Controller is compatible with most titles. The Type 2 Controller reportedly works with Railfan by connecting its USB lead into the PlayStation 3.

Versions[edit | edit source]

There have been many versions of Densha de Go, some of which have quite similar-sounding titles, such as Densha de Go Pro, Densha de Go Pro 2, Densha de Go 2 3000, and Densha de Go 2.

Versions of this game (presented in rough chronological order) include:

  • Densha de Go!, for Arcade, PS1, PC, WonderSwan, and Game Boy Color
    • This is the first in the series.
    • Coverage: San'in Main Line (Sagano Line), Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Tōkaidō Line (JR Kyoto Line) and Yamanote Line (portions of each of these).
    • By the standard of later titles, this game was very strict, demanding that the user memorize routes. This strictness was caused by the fidelity of the PS1 and PC versions to the arcade version, where normal users it was generally hoped would not play for more than a few minutes per payment for economic reasons.
    • The Windows port also includes the longer version of the Sagano Line from the EX version (see below), as well as an additional variation of the Tōkaidō JR Kyoto Line.
  • Densha de Go! EX, for Arcade and Sega Saturn
    • An additional route was added to the Arcade version, where a section of the Sagano Line that was skipped in the original is fully playable.
    • The Densha de Go port for Sega Saturn was based on this version of the arcade original.
  • Kisha De Go! for PS1 and PC
    • Kisha means 'steam locomotive.' This version allowed the user to drive steam locomotives.
    • The coverage included portions of the Keihin-Tōhoku Line, Shin'etsu Main Line and Ban'etsu-Sai Line.
    • Much of this was taken from the original Densha de Go, and that which was not was done it seems somewhat hastily as the quality is not up to the standard of previous or subsequent routes using the same technology.
    • The controls were made slightly more complicated to reflect steam operation.
  • Densha de Go! 2 Kōsoku-hen, for Arcade, PS1 and PC
  • Densha de Go! 2 Kōsoku-hen 3000, for Arcade, Dreamcast, and PC
    • Contains the same lines as Densha de Go! 2 Kōsoku-hen Arcade version, as well as Ō The PS1 version also includes Osaka Loop Line and Kagoshima Main Line.
    • The overall trackage was significantly greater than in the original Densha de GO. However, this game was likewise quite strict.
    • The arcade version was also ported to Neo Geo Pocket. The PS1 version was also ported to WonderSwan and Game Boy Color.
  • Densha de Go! 2 Kōsoku-hen 3000, for Arcade, Dreamcast, and PC
    • Contains the same lines as Densha de Go! 2 Kōsoku-hen Arcade version, as well as Ōu Main Line, Tazawako Line, Tōkaidō Main Line (JR Kobe Line) and Yamanote Line.
    • The strictness of the previous versions was somewhat relaxed through a number of features, including the addition of a panel at right which allowed the user to see a map of the upcoming track segment, including speed limits, which greatly reduced the amount of memorization.
  • Densha de Go! 64, for Nintendo 64,
    • Basically the same as Densha de Go Kōsoku-hen 3000 but with a different name for N64, and uses the "Voice Recognition Unit".
  • Densha de GO! Professional, for PS1 and PC
    • Same lines as Densha de Go! and Densha de Go! 2 Kōsoku-hen, as well as some Kantō area portions of the Tōkaidō Line
    • Featured some further strictness relaxation. The overall relaxation of strictness in the game as time went on reflected Taito's shift in emphasis from arcade to home-play versions.
  • Densha de Go! Nagoya Railroad, for PS1 and PC
    • Featured railways belonging to the Nagoya Meitetsu private railway company.
    • Coverage: Meitetsu Nagoya Line, Meitetsu Inuyama Line, Meitetsu Minomachi Line and Meitetsu Monkey Park Monorail Line.
    • This was the first version to feature a monorail.
    • This version also featured a Meitetsu hybrid light rail route which ran both on regular train lines and as a sort of urban tram on special lanes in city streets. Part of the gameplay of this required the user to stop for regular traffic signals and avoid car traffic. This was the Densha de Go player's first opportunity to drive a vehicle much lighter (and thus shorter stopping distance) than standard trains.
    • In this version, the driver must sound the horn before beginning to accelerate out of a station. This is unique to this title.
    • The gameplay, physics, and strictness of this version were all somewhat relaxed compared to previous versions.
  • Densha de Go! 3 Tsūkin-hen, for Arcade and PS2
    • Coverage Sasaguri Line, Kagoshima Main Line, Sanyō Main Line (JR Kobe Line), San'in Main Line, Chūō Main Line, and Chūō-Sōbu Line.
    • Was the first version to use a new, semi-3D graphics engine. This engine however was not used in subsequent titles. This gives this title a rather distinct look compared to other titles.
    • While previous versions of the game allowed for the same route to be run, for example, during day or night, this was the first version in which the user could see the time of day dynamically changing as the ride progressed.
    • The overall feel of this title is unique for the series. Timetable restrictions, for example, are fairly relaxed and the user had significantly more choices as to difficulty settings compared to before.
  • Densha de Go! 3 Tsūkin-hen Daiya Kaisei, for Arcade and PC
    • Basically the same as Densha de Go! 3 Tsūkin-hen but with a slightly different title.
  • Densha de Go! Professional 2, for PS2 and PC
    • Despite what the title may imply, this title both appeared after the above versions of the game and was in many ways completely radical and new, including featuring a fairly updated graphics engine.
    • Coverage included the Shōnan-Shinjuku Line, Tsurumi Line, Kosei Line, Seto-Ōhashi Line, Nagasaki Main Line and Sasebo Line.
    • Unique elements to this game included the crossing of the Seto-Ōhashi bridge, a trip which involves the changing of the driver and the coupling and de-coupling of the train.
  • Densha de Go! Shinkansen Sanyō Shinkansen-hen, for PS2, PC, and Wii
    • Coverage included the Sanyō Shinkansen and Hakata Minami Line
    • Again, this version featured a significantly different basic graphics engine.
    • Innovations included graphic interludes which showed routine passenger activities and the optional ability to see both the train from the outside and see a detailed, 3-dimensional cab view from the inside.
    • Breaking the trend to this point, this title demanded more exacting driving by the user - often as little as half a second to correctly respond to speed limit change indications.
    • Despite the intrinsic appeal of being able to drive a train at over 300 km/h, this version suffers from somewhat repetitive gameplay, as the Sanyo shinkansen consists of a fairly monotonic series of tunnels and viaducts.
    • Also available as Densha de Go! Shinkansen EX Sanyō Shinkansen-hen, for Wii.
  • Densha de Go! Ryojōhen, for Arcade, PS2, and PC
    • This version focused on trams and light rail
    • Coverage Iyotetsu Matsuyama City Line, Enoden Line, Randen Arashiyama Main Line, Randen Kitano Line, Hakodate City Tram Line Route 5 and 2.
    • While apparently sharing much of the same basic graphics engine with Densha de Go Shinkansen, otherwise the user interface of this version was radically different, taking a significantly gentler approach.
    • Trams could be viewed externally and also in a cab view.
    • As the driver, the player is responsible in this version for making station announcements and opening the door on the correct side.
    • As part of the overall gentler nature of this game, it is almost impossible to get a harsh game over message here as it was quite easy to do in early Densha de Go versions. Continues are plentiful and, while timetables exist, they can be stifled completely or simply looked at generally for much of the basic play. That said, unlocking some tram variants requires accurate completion of some scheduled routes.
    • There is significant extra multimedia content in the game.
  • Train Simulator + Densha de Go! Tōkyō Kyūkō-hen, for PS2
  • Mobile Train Simulator + Densha de Go! Tōkyō Kyūkō-hen, for PSP
    • Basically the same as the PS2 version, but optimized for the PSP
  • Densha de GO! Final, for PS2 and PC[2]
    • Coverage: (the complete) Yamanote Line, (Rapid) Chūō Line, (the complete) Osaka Loop Line, and (much of the) Tōkaidō Main Line (specifically, the JR Kyoto Line and JR Kobe Line).
    • At first glance, features more arcade-like gameplay, due to its system of chained points. **Features a large number of trains and relaxed gameplay.
    • Trains can be seen from external views, but there are no internal cabs.
    • By any standard features the best and most detailed graphics of the series.
    • Gameplay innovations include conductor mode where the player acts as station announcer and door opener rather than driver. This requires the user to have memorized (or have readily available) a list of the stations.
    • There appears to be no time or intra-station compression in this game whatsoever - distances are prototypical. Furthermore, scheduled routes and timetables are basically prototypical.
  • Densha de Go! Pocket Yamanote-sen-sen, for PSP, Yamanote Line, Densha de Go! Pocket Chūō-sen-hen, for PSP, Chūō Main Line (Tokyo Station to Takao), Densha de Go! Pocket Ōsaka-kanjō-sen-hen, for PSP, Osaka Loop Line, Densha de GO! Pocket Tōkaidō-sen-hen, for PSP, Tōkaidō Main Line (JR Kyoto Line and JR Kobe Line).
    • These Pocket versions were basically taken from Densha de Go Final and scaled to fit to the PSP device.
  • Densha de Go! Special Version—Revived! Showa Yamanote Line, for Nintendo DS (July 22, 2010). Covers the Yamanote Line's historical rolling stock through present along with several other tacked-on trains and lines.

Other versions:

References[edit | edit source]

External links[edit | edit source]