When Coffee Stain Studios originally released Goat Simulator back in 2014, public reaction went from trying to grasp why a game based around simulating a goat could ever be fun, to countless YouTube videos of sadistic users abusing and creating unparalleled carnage with one of life's most unassuming and innocent animals.
Of course, it wasn't supposed to be - by any account - a simulator, and the goat simply served as the most unlikely and comical of antagonists; a scapegoat, if you will.
Joindots GmbH has decided to jump on the sudden surge of simulation bandwagons with Suspension Railroad Simulator on the Wii U, except that somewhere along the way forgot that it was Goat Simulator's huge sense of irony that was its most charming facet; it's created a title that is neither fun or educational on any level.
Suspension Railroad Simulator is a game that, in its own words, allows the end user to 'Experience the unique atmosphere of the Wuppertal Suspension Railroad'. And by unique, they mean there's nothing else like it, and based on the evidence, there are countless reasons why no one has attempted to create a railroad simulator and pass it off as entertainment. From the moment it boots up to the railroad station, the gamer is immediately placed in a situation where nothing around them makes sense. Walk through the door to the right of the station and expect a lengthy loading screen, only to be presented with a language selection screen. Open and close the lip on the coffeepot to turn 'events' on or off. What are events and how do you actually take charge of the suspension railroad? As the game offers very little help or any form of a tutorial, gamers will likely find themselves flicking through the digital manual to try and decipher the controls.
All of this could be forgiven, however, if the product was any good, yet somehow, even with lowered expectations, this might be one of the worst titles ever to beset the home console.
No matter how irrelevant and inconsequential the small things might be, they still manage to ruin almost everything at every turn. Passengers will enter and exit the railroad at the slowest pace and in militant fashion. Graphically, it's like looking at a HD first generation PS1 title, with little to be desired. There's an event mode that adds certain gameplay elements such as having to fix faulty doors, warnings for going through red lights and customer complaints if they get trapped between the doors if closed too early. It's a lazy, last minute attempt to make this feel like a game, which it doesn't; if it sounds boring, that's because it is. It's probably a blessing in disguise that there's virtually no sound or sound effects to speak of, given the quality of the other segments.
As the railroad driver, the gamer is given full control over the vehicle, such as accelerating, breaking, turning the windscreen wipers on and other joyless and overly unintuitive commands.
In many ways, it seems unfair to assess Suspension Railroad Simulator as a game, as it shares almost no game-like qualities – or certainly none worth mentioning. But as it has the audacity to sit in the Wii U store and position itself as a videogame it must, at the very least, be judged as a piece of entertainment; on that basis it fails on all counts. There is very little simulation offered here, other than holding down on the accelerator and controlling the shutter doors for passengers. Even some of the most mundane titles can have their moments, and justify a play through or - at the very least - a few hours or exploration. Not only does Suspension Railroad Simulator offer nothing in any department, it seems hell bent on going out of its way to upset its users and, for that reason alone, deserves to be ignored. Simply avoid.