Consider me weird. Go ahead. I’m waiting. I’m looking forward to it actually. Bring da pain. Oh, wait, you don’t know why you should?
Because I like driving virtual trains.
For a long time I have been in search of a game similar to the Densha de GO! series, which I have been dying to play ever since I heard of its existence (I have a strange fascination with Japanese trains).
Well, one fateful day a long time ago I remember stumbling upon Boso View Express, aka BVE. I never could figure out how to play, and it was soon forgotten about. However, last December I picked up a renewed interest and finally managed to understand how to get going, and I’ve been hooked ever since.
BVE is essentially a train route sim, not unlike Microsoft Train Simulator, although I lean toward BVE more. Not just due to the price tag (free!), but it does feel a lot more vibrant and has a great community behind it.
BVE versions 2 and 4 have been out for quite a while, and a Vista-compatible new version is in the works.
BVE2 is, despite being an earlier version, possibly more complex than BVE4. BVE2 has a passenger comfort meter and a station stop meter, both of which are missing from BVE4. BVE4’s biggest advantage is being run completely fullscreen.
Routes are widespread online, and vary in quality. Most are quite good though.
For those of you on a more open-source, open-content slant, I present to you openBVE.
openBVE is built from the ground up to be compatible with both BVE2 and BVE4, as well as allowing new features such as animated objects.
It has a .Net-built front-end menu system, which is much easier to use than either BVE version. Trains are more easily customizable for each route.
And generally, since openBVE is compatible with routes built for previous releases of the proprietary BVE, as well as openBVE-specific routes, one has a much larger selection of tracks to choose from (yes I am biased for free stuff)
As far as compatibility goes, my experiences have been mostly good with the exception of bugs in making certain surfaces transparent, but I’d wager that on a compatibility issue with the route design rather than an actual flaw.
It has recently bumped up to version 1.0, and appears to get better every release.
Both have somewhat convoluted route installation processes, which if not automatically installed have to be manually unzipped and copied folder-by-folder, which took me a long time to figure out. Once again, though, this isn’t specifically the program’s fault. It’s just the way the routes are architected.
Still, it’s great fun. It may be weird, but it’s a hobby. Call now.