City Transport Map Volumes 1 & 2 - 2009 Review
Posted by Adam
Now you have no excuse for getting lost on a city break.
City Transport Map Volumes 1 & 2 contains ten travel maps in total and offers a selection of detailed routes for trains, subways, trams and airport shuttles. The maps vary in size depending on the city and different transport methods and specific lines can be highlighted via the touch screen and application menu. These DSiWare apps come in two separate downloads for 500 Nintendo points each, so be sure to pick the volume with the cities you intend to visit.
Volume 1 features maps of Paris, Rome, Dublin, Madrid and Lisbon while Volume 2 features London, Amsterdam, Prague, Moscow and Berlin. It should be noted that anyone expecting a guidebook or "areas of interest" type application will be sorely disappointed here: this application does exactly what the title suggests and very little else, which isn't necessarily a bad thing.
Specific stations can be searched via a handwritten search as can specific lines, and entire transport systems can be highlighted via the "Transport Type Select" option, which offers an overview of available transport links throughout an entire city - who knew London had trams? Three coloured markers can be placed at any location on the map and these can be zoomed in on by simply clicking the corresponding coloured button: this can be used to work out which line to take to reach various locations, though it might have been helpful to have had more than three markers.
The maps also contain details of current diversions and closed stations, though these details will be inaccurate in as little as a few months - a possible solution for this would be a downloadable update. Unfortunately due to a lack of any landmarks or well-known locations on the map it can be difficult, from the perspective of a tourist, to work out which station to go to, and indeed where each station is in terms of attractions. For instance, as the maps are quite complex it is perhaps quite difficult for someone who is unfamiliar with each city to work out exactly where they are on the map.
As well as the maps themselves there are a few extra features such as handwritten memos that can be placed at any location on the map. The DSi's camera can even be used to take pictures of specific locations to create a travel log or collection of mementos though it should be noted that only 50 memos can be stored. This includes both photographic and handwritten memos and therefore this leaves on average only ten memos per location on each application.
There is also a "Route Quiz" which tests the user's knowledge of getting to and from different stations, and while this is little more than a distraction it's a decent little extra, and photographs and trivia about each location are offered on occasion as rewards for correct solutions. However, it would have been nice if each correct answer had granted a reward.
It is debatable as to just how useful a tourist would find these applications. Sure enough the maps are of good quality, but due to the lack of anything apart from transport lines and stations it’s quite hard to discern exactly which station is best for different visitor attractions. A tourist looking at a map of the London Underground is unlikely to have any idea where to go based on these maps, and another form of information would be needed to fill in the gaps, whether a guidebook or another application.
For commuters on the other hand or individuals at least semi-familiar with each location these maps may hold some use, as they are thorough and detailed transport maps with just enough extras to warrant a download as opposed to just buying a paper version. Whether or not you buy this really depends on your need for the application; it’s perhaps not the most useful tool for people completely new to each city, and there are better applications out there on other systems.
City Transport Map Volumes 1 & 2 are two DSiWare apps which are presented in a clean-cut and reasonably concise manner: it’s just a pity that the actual usefulness of the applications is questionable.