Tuesday, November 14, 2006 at 8:46 am

Train Cab Controllers

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In the same way that flight sticks are preferred for flight simulators and steering wheels for racing games, there are specialized game controllers for train simulators. You knew about train simulators, right? There are, as far as I know, two of them: Microsoft Train Simulator and Trainz Railroad Simulator. I haven’t played either, because both are Windows-only (though a Mac port of Trainz is apparently imminent). Each simulator has a whole pile of expansion packs for new track and locomotives as well. Choose your poison.

RailDriver Whichever one you choose, however, there’s a controller you can use for either one: RailDriver‘s Desktop Train Cab Controller, a scaled-down replica of a diesel engine cab — RailDriver also makes train simulator equipment — that connects via USB. (I seem to recall a review that said it could also be connected to a model railroad’s DCC system and be used to control model trains; if not, there’s at the very least an SDK.)

Streetcar GO! There are other simulators out there, but not necessarily for the U.S. market. Via Engadget yesterday comes word of a controller for a Shinkansen simulator called (confusingly) Streetcar GO!, a game for the Nintendo Wii platform scheduled for Japanese release in early 2007.

Though I have yet to try a train simulator, and will probably lay hands on Trainz when it comes out for the Mac, word from family members is that they’re not that playable: trains being somewhat less interesting to run than airplanes, I suppose. Simulators, not games. I’ll see.

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  • It’s name in Japanese is Densha De GO! While Densha can translate as “streetcar” it really means any sort of train. Densha De GO! has been quite a successfule franchise, ranging from arcade machines to handhelds and even on phones. There have been many special controllers over the years. Taito have a page with some of the versions available over the years at: http://www.taito.co.jp/game/popular/train.html