Trainyard

The Chilean miners are being rescued! The Apprentice was on tonight! And Trainyard is going great guns in the App Store.

Wait… Trainyard, you say? What’s that? Only the best puzzle game in years. You lay track to get coloured trains to the right stations. That’s it. It sounds simple, but all sorts of evil gameplay elements are introduced throughout to make it harder, such as trains that merge when they occupy the same piece of track, points which change whenever a train passes over them, colour mixing when trains collide, and lots more tomfoolery to help or hinder you along your way. The game is visually merely functional and there’s no music to speak of, but despite its arguable presentation shortcomings, it has it where it counts in the playability. I haven’t spent hours playing a puzzler in years, but this one has gripped me like no other. The game makes you feel super-smart when you solve its more mind-bending puzzles, and they all have multiple solutions so you’re not locked into a single path and never feel like you’re being forced into thinking a certain way.

Almost as interesting as the game itself, though, is the story of its rise to its current #3 placing in the App Store charts. It’s a tale that reveals the year-long creation process fit in around developer Matt Rix’s full-time job, months of low sales on release, and then the success that began when he created all-new puzzles for a free version of the game called Trainyard Express and received a good review from an Italian website. Everything snowballed from there. It demonstrates how success in the App Store can be as much about marketing, timing, pricing and a good bit of luck, as it is about how great your game is. You can read Matt’s fascinating account here. And if you have an iPhone, iPad or iPod Touch, you can buy the game here for a bargainlicious 59p. What are you waiting for?

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