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The classic game: Trainyard

A single-screen train-based puzzler that gave your brain a railly good workout

Many games merely make up the numbers. A precious few become part of history. In this entry in our series on classic iPhone games, we take a look at a novel puzzler from 2010 you’d have wanted to make tracks for – in more ways than one.

What was Trainyard?

Trainyard was a puzzler with a simple premise: get every train to a station of matching color. To do this, you drew tracks on the screen and tapped a massive button to ‘start the trains.’ If they all made it without a smashy disaster, you could tackle the next, trickier test.

As you worked through the game’s levels, new challenges appeared. You’d have to route around rocks, deal with rail switches, and use color theory to merge trains into suitable hues.

Why was it a classic?

The best puzzle games are simple to understand but tricky to master. Trainyard was all that and felt wonderfully tactile on Apple devices as you dragged a finger to lay some track or tapped to adjust a rail switch.

The difficulty curve was pitch-perfect. You’d initially wonder why the game was so easy – but later you could spend many minutes fiddling with a layout until it worked. And when you’d exhausted the built-in levels, you could download those made by the community or make your own in Trainyard’s construction kit.

All that for less than a buck.

Where is it now?

Although Trainyard remains on the App Store, it derailed during 32-bit appageddon. Unless you own a device that runs iOS 10 or earlier, you can’t play Trainyard on an Apple device today.

But there is hope. Creator Matt Rix tells us: “I have been planning out a couple ways to finally bring it back. Nothing set in stone yet, but it is quite possible it’ll return.”

To use a suitable Britishism, we’ll be very chuffed should that happen.

Visit the Trainyard website, or repeatedly refresh its App Store page until a 64-bit version arrives.