t’s a truism that the technological marvels of Yesteryear soon become mundane and everyday.
Take the smoke-bellowing engines of the golden age of steam locomotion. They were the broadband of their day: shrinking distances and opening up new possibilities by connecting agricultural, manufacturing and consumers.
Those heady days of steam provide the backdrop for the oh-so-jolly Incredible Express HD. In the game you play Maria, a locomotive owner who is tapping into the steam-age boom with giddy hopes of making a fortune by ferrying around the products of equally optimistic cartoon capitalists.
This might suggest an iPad reincarnation of Railroad Tycoon, but Incredible Express is actually an action-driven puzzle game. The challenge is to use signals, new track, and switches to direct your always-moving train around the railways so that it collects the right cargo and deposits it in the right station.
It’s a twist on an idea that dates all the way back to The Train Game on the ZX Spectrum, but it’s no less appealing for that.
As the game progresses through its 80-plus levels of railroad romance, the challenge cranks up until it becomes a juggling act where vigilance, forward planning and nimble fingers are everything.
Tracks become more elaborate, payloads need to be delivered in order to allow manufacturers to create the goods you’re tasked with transporting and troublesome wildlife need to be removed from the lines by sticking balloons on them until they float away.
PETA probably wouldn’t approve of the latter technique, but it's humorous touches like this that allow Incredible Express to charm. The upbeat optimism of its whimsical CBeebies capitalism proving as infectious as the plate-spinning challenge at the game’s heart.