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Locomotive Level

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Gordon: New Yorkers talk like they're all big and bad, but I bet they don't deal with half this shit on the subway!
[soldiers continue shooting at him, he returns fire]
Gordon: The next time I hear someone complain about their commute again, I think I'm just going to punch them in the face.
Gordon Freeman, Freeman's Mind

It's very common for our protagonists to find their way onto a train. After all, it's a prime location for adventure. You're stuck in a confined space, and you're unable to leave once the train is moving. You may have to show your ticket or passport, you may be held up by a bunch of robbers, you never know who you're going to meet, and nobody is ever completely sure if that strange-looking toilet door is correctly shut.

After you've run around on the train for long enough, the only way left to go is up, often leading to a Traintop Battle. Other potential goals/dangers include low-hanging signals and tunnels, coupling or decoupling cars, encounters with other vehicles (other trains, aircraft, Humongous Mecha, etc.) moving behind or alongside/above the train to drop off enemies or attack the player (or the train itself), or a time limit before the train reaches its destination (stopping optional).


The music for such stages will often have a galloping or chugging rhythm.

Not to be confused with Rail Shooter. Thriller on the Express is the non videogame version of this trope. See also Levels Take Flight when the locomotive is an airship.


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    Action Adventure 
  • Video Game/Spider-Man on PS 1 featured a level where Spidey must survive an unlimited hoard of lizard men set upon him by Venom. Falling off the very narrow platform is an instant death, but Spidey can knock his enemies off the train too. The goal of the level is to survive until the train icon at the bottom of the screen reaches the end.

    Beat Em' Up 
  • Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Turtles in Time has the "Bury My Shell At Wounded Knee" level, set in a Western-timed train.
  • The Batman Returns licenced SNES game has the sixth level that takes place aboard the Red Triangle Circus train. The boss is the ringleader of the circus, the creepy Organ Grinder.
  • Final Fight 2 has the fourth stage that takes place aboard the R&B Circus train. The boss is Philippe, quintessential Monster Clown and ringmaster that has been using the circus to smuggle illegal items for the Mad Gear Gang.

    First Person Shooter 
  • Level 3 in Outlaws takes place on a train.
  • One level in the original Blood. And several levels in its sequel.
  • Gordon Freeman spends a lot of time on trains, although never during active gameplay. Half-Life famously started with him in an elevated tram; Half-Life 2 had him arrive in City 17 on a train; and in Episode One, he and Alyx hitched a ride on a Combine train, and later used a rebel-operated train to escape from the city. Also, the level On A Rail of the original game did involve active gameplay for Gordon.
  • Unreal Tournament, AS-HiSpeed.
  • Duke Nukem: Manhattan Project Has the start of one of the levels on the roof of a train and later (possibly in the same level) there is a boss fight on top of a much shorter train.
  • GoldenEye (1997), imaginatively titled "Train," which has Bond battling through a converted missile train in order to save Natalya.
  • The From Russia with Love game had a level that began on a train and led to a station - also titled "Train".
  • In one level in Everything or Nothing, Bond catches up to a moving train on a bike, leaps off the bike onto the train, then fights his way through the train, eventually encountering Jaws, and battling him.
  • TimeSplitters: Future Perfect features a train level in the 1960s.
  • Team Fortress 2, as with any Source engine game, has loads of community created content and maps, one of which is a map called ctf_convoy that takes place on two massive missile carriers careening through a canyon.
  • The House of the Dead: OVERKILL (and by proxy the spin-off Typing of the Dead Overkill} has a level called Scream Train, a possibly reference to Resident Evil 0, it features a large double story over-night sleeper filled with zom-er, mutants.
  • PAYDAY 2 has two train-related heists. The first, named Transport: Train Heist, sees the player stealing a turret (a level 1 RED sentry gun from Team Fortress 2) and its ammos in a train that is currently stopped on a railway bridge. The second is a part of the Biker Heist, and sees the heister boarding a freight train and steal a BCI helmet.
  • One level in the first installment of Soldier of Fortune.
  • Red Steel 2 has a train level which involved lots of working your way through carriages then finding the way is blocked and having to go up on the roof, then finding that way is blocked and going down through the carriages again. Interestingly your movement is hampered by the constantly swaying train.
  • Medal of Honor: Frontline has a level in which you must fight your way through a Nazi armoured train to reach the Big Bad at the far end. Excitingly, you can use its mounted guns to blow up other trains as they pull alongside.

    Light Gun Game 
  • Gunfighter: The Legend Of Jesse James, being set in the Wild West, has it's fourth level set on a locomotive, where players controlling Jesse have to go from the back of the train to it's front, killing every mook hindering his way in the process, to force the train to stop before it squashes his girlfriend, the Damsel in Distress Zee who is Chained to a Railway.
  • Time Crisis 2 has a level where the heroes have to hijack a railway transporting missiles in order to infiltrate Ernesto Diaz's headquarters, with Diaz's lead mercenary, the Scary Black Man Buff Bryant, serving as the boss at the end.
    • In the third game the heroes takes over a similar train to enter General Zott's base, and have to contend with Zott's army as well as several clawmen guarding the train. Players get to battle Garrett, the clawmen leader, and several Elite Mook clawmen at the end of the stage.

  • The Addams Family Licensed Game has the Train Room, where Gomez rides his toy train while dodging the floating spiked balls scattered around the room.
  • In the Animaniacs video game for the Sega Genesis, in the second half of the Western Level, the Warner Siblings travel aboard a train. The boss of the stage is Ralph the Guard. During the first encounter, the Warner siblings must toss pies at him from an oven in the bakery car, while he tries to do vice-versa to them while riding a rail-mounted segway. In their second encounter, the Warners reach the engine. They must fill it with coal so it can outrun Ralph.
  • One level of Ape Escape 3 took place partially in/around a train.
  • One of the Boss Battles in Banjo-Tooie takes place on board Chuffy the locomotive.
  • In Batman: Return of the Joker, Stage 4-1 takes place on a freight train.
  • In Bubsy in Claws Encounters of the Furred Kind, the first halves of "Chapter 7: The Good, the Bad, and the Woolies", "Chapter 8: A Fistful of Yarn", and "Chapter 9: Dances With Woolies" take place on a train travelling through the desert.
  • The eighth level of Cool Spot is entitled "Loco Motive", and given Spot's diminutive size, takes place on an electric train set.
  • Contra
  • The fourth level of the The Flintstones Licensed Game for the Sega Genesis takes place on the Dino Express, where Fred looks for Betty's missing ribbon. When Fred reaches the engine, it is revealed to be powered by a running dinosaur.
  • Stage 3 of Patched Plains and Stage 5 of Rhythm Route from Kirby: Planet Robobot take place in the trains of the Haltmann Works Company. The former was a literal locomotive, while the latter is more of a modern-day subway train.
  • In Little Nemo: The Dream Master, in the "House of Toys" level, Nemo rides a toy train whilst dodging enemies and hazards.
  • Looney Tunes games:
    • In Sylvester & Tweety In Cagey Capers for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, the "Mayhem Express" level takes place onboard a train.
    • Desert Demolition Starring Road Runner and Wile E. Coyote, also for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, has a level like this, entitled, Choo Choo Terrain.
    • Road Runner's Death Valley Rally for the SNES has a circus train level, entitled, Train Runnery, with various circus animals either helping or hindering your progress.
  • McDonald's Treasure Land Adventure for the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive has a circus train in the first half of the second world.
  • Several levels in the Mega Man X and Zero games:
    • Charge Man's stage from Mega Man 5. It's worth mentioning that Charge Man himself is an anthropomorphic train.
    • Slash Beast's stage from Mega Man X4, appropriately called Military Train. Partway through the level there's mooks who destroy the train couplings, and the miniboss is a killer robot train car that attacks with extendable spikes.
    • One of the earliest stages in Mega Man Zero 1 involves boarding a train to recover a special Cyber-Elf, with the boss being the train engine itself that's also a robot hybrid trying to kill Zero.
    • Panter Flauclaws' stage in Mega Man Zero 2 involves boarding a train to steal valuable cargo for the war effort, with the boss pulling up at the end on another train to duke it out with Zero.
    • Buckfire's level in Mega Man ZX Advent, which is also significant as this is the first stage pass the tutorial and the one where Grey/Ashe receive Biometal Model A. The train specifically was a Hunter's train they were using to transport the Biometal to Legion before the Mavericks attacked with the intent of taking the Biometal.
  • One level of Rocket Knight Adventures has your jetpack-wearing armor-clad laser-sword-wielding possum riding a little hand-car-thingie along the rails as he tries to catch up to the evil robot train with ray guns and clawed arms. Best boss ever.
  • One of the Doc Ock fights in the Spider-Man 2 game took place on a train, and by proxy a portion of the film of the same name did as well.
  • Super Mario Bros.:
  • Sonic the Hedgehog games:
    • Sunset Park Act 3 from Sonic Triple Trouble. The boss is the engine itself, which fires spiked cannonballs at the player.
    • In Sonic Adventure, in the middle of E-102 Gamma's Hot Shelter level, Gamma must travel across a pair of high-speed cargo trains, the rightmost of which is loaded with badniks. When he hits the switch on the rightmost engine, it will take him to the center of the base, where an upgraded E-105 Zeta is waiting for him.
    • In Sonic Shuffle, the fourth board, Riot Train, is set on a runaway train. Occasionally, freight cars would couple to or uncouple from the train, and the final mini-game involves Sonic and his friends pushing the train back to stop it from falling off a cliff.
    • In Sonic Heroes, either Rail Canyon or Bullet Station had this as part of the level.
    • Radical Train in Sonic the Hedgehog (2006).
    • In Sonic Mania, at one point in Sonic and Tails' Mirage Saloon Act 1, you'll drop from the Tornado and onto a train driven by Dr. Eggman.
  • Sunset Riders, being a Wild West themed game, had two train levels. The first one, which was the second level of the game, had you riding horses alongside a train while shooting bandits that were riding up to it or were already on board. The second train level had you getting aboard the caboose and having to shoot your way to the engine.
  • Tiny Toon Adventures games:
  • Level 2 of Vectorman has the titular character morph into a train to battle Warhead on a set of levitating tracks.
  • Stage 7-1 of the NES game Vice: Project Doom.
  • The original Viewtiful Joe has a train sequence in the latter half of the 5th world.
  • Wario Land:
  • Wells has a level set on a train.
  • Yoshi's Crafted World:
    • "Rail-Yard Run" (part of Sunshine Station) involves Kamek disassembling a steam engine, and Yoshi must find the three missing pieces to reassemble it. When he does, the train will take him to the goal.
    • "Whistlestop Rails" from Big Paper Peak is another locomotive level, this time with the better part of the level spent riding trains through fields and caves and dodging Fangs.
    • "Jungle Tour Challenge" from Rumble Jungle involves Yoshi riding on a train as he shoots eggs at the animal targets.
    • "Gator Train Attacks!" is a Traintop Battle against the titular Gator Train, which rides on rails parallel to Yoshi's.

    Role Playing Games 
  • Final Fantasy:
    • The ghostly train to the afterlife from Final Fantasy VI, which is a boss in itself (and can be suplexed).
    • Final Fantasy VII has the team take a train, only for the guards to catch up with them, leaving our heroes to make a dash for it. There also is a haunted area named the Train Graveyard, full of derelict trains.
    • In Final Fantasy VIII there's the Timber Owls SEED mission (plus a bossfight) that takes place on two separate trains.
  • A good chunk of the second Professor Layton game, Professor Layton and the Diabolical Box, takes place on the Molentary Express, the most luxurious train in the world.
  • Skies of Arcadia has a train sequence as well while escaping from the Big Bad who slowly causally walks towards you.
  • In BoxxyQuest: The Gathering Storm, the first half of Chapter 6 is set on the luxury Hype Train as it travels from one site to another. Predictably, it turns into a murder mystery scenario almost as soon as you get onboard.
  • Part of one of the final dungeons in Secret of Mana takes place on an undead-infested metro train.
  • Shining Force III had a whole chapter about sneaking onto a train, people talking about trains, fighting in the train and then a big fight on top of the train for good measure. This was your standard medieval themed RPG so it makes sense it was such a big deal.
  • World of Warcraft has the Grimrail Depot 5-man dungeon, where the players attack a train depot, board a freight train, and fight through the enemies until they reach the boss. After killing the boss, they sabotage the engine and cause the train to wreck and explode.
    • There is also the Blackrock Foundry, where the players fight Operator Thogar in the middle of a railway depot. Trains come through during the fight on the different rail lines, and if they hit a player, they deal most of the player's health in damage.
  • Star Wars: The Old Republic has the Crisis on Umbara flashpoint, the first half of which takes place both on top of and inside a moving hovertrain.
  • The Game Boy Color adaptation of Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone has a level set on the Hogwarts Express. Harry meets Ron at the back of the last coach and there's a boss fight with Draco Malfoy, but not much else aside from a lot of other students to talk to.
  • In You Are Not The Hero, Petula boards a haunted train on her journey.

    Survival Horror 
  • Resident Evil 0 starts out on a train infested with leeches, OH and the undead. Then it crashes into a mansion full of the things. Talk about a lousy trip.
    • The climactic battle with William Birkin in Resident Evil 2 takes place aboard an escape train fleeing the (naturally) self-destructing Umbrella lab.

    Stealth Based 
  • Splinter Cell: Pandora Tomorrow has a level where Sam Fisher has to infiltrate and interrogate someone on a high speed train in France. He inevitably ends up on top of the train, and the sides, and the bottom.
  • One level in Commandos 3: Destination Berlin, where the team has to recover works of art stolen by the Germans.

    Wide Open Sandbox 
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has three: You hitch a ride on a train and steal its cargo, you're on a motorcycle keeping up alongside the train, the last is on a jetpack flying around the train. There are side-missions where you can drive a train, but nothing interesting happens. At all. Unless you intentionally crash the thing.
  • Red Dead Redemption has two such missions, both of which have the player manning a gatling gun on one of the cars to fend off enemies attacking the train.
  • Assassin's Creed: Syndicate features a train as the protagonists Home Base. Also, unsurprisingly given the time period, trains play a big part in the game and several missions revolve around high-jacking, protecting, reaching and escaping on moving trains.

  • The first level of Victoria's world in LittleBigPlanet 2 takes place on a train.
  • Dissidia Duodecim has the Phantom Train from Final Fantasy VI as a level. The characters fight inside one of the cars and the seats are breakable. It's easily the most confined arena in the game, but it more or less works since the walls become partially transparent whenever doing otherwise would interfere with the camera.
  • Shadows of the Empire has the Ord Mantell Junkyard level.
  • Klonoa 2: Dream Champ Tournament has this for the second area.
  • Alice: Madness Returns has the Infernal Train level.
  • In Th 3 Plan, a heist game, one of the first stages is on a train going through a very long tunnel.
  • Cactus McCoy has several levels on a train. And it's AWESOME.
  • Monster Tale has one of these levels.
  • Distorted Travesty has one, of course. It then parodies it by having the train's interior be an Absurdly Spacious Sewer.
  • All of the Hudson Soft game Stop The Express.
  • Not quite a strict Locomotive Level per se, but the Macbeth mission in Star Fox 64 features a train which the team is trying to destroy. If one successfully flips all eight paddles and then manages to shoot the switcher-lever, the result is the gratifying spectacle of the enemy locomotive smashing into the supply depot, destroying the whole thing. If one doesn't manage to do so, then the locomotive, which tows a heavily armed "kite" mech, serves as the level's boss.
  • The Battle Subway in Pokémon Black and White and the sequels. Made worse because The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard and frequently becomes That One Level.
  • The Data East arcade game Western Express (released as Express Raider in North America) is another game that takes place entirely on train themed levels. It also has a western theme.
  • The Taito arcade game called Wild Western involves protecting a train from bandits.
  • The first real dungeon in Tales of Xillia 2 is a train being raided by terrorists. It seems like a normal enough scenario initially, but things get weird halfway through...
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, the Solar Sailer in The Grid takes on an appearance similar to a freight train.
  • In The Matrix: Path of Neo this is what the second Sinister Subway level turns into. It's filled with Ominous Visual Glitches and A Glitch in the Matrix.
  • Act 2-2 in Vanquish.
  • Grimrail Depot in World of Warcraft: Warlords of Draenor.
  • Before the final showdown in Yo! Joe! Beat the Ghosts, the player has to pass through a metro train ridden with enemies. For obvious reasons, this level is much shorter and simpler than any other.
  • Outskirt Stand is where the main story begins in Pokémon Colosseum and the location later returns in Pokémon XD: Gale of Darkness. In these games the locomotive is broken down in the middle of the desert and has since been converted into a restaurant and bar.
  • Metal Slug 2's third stage is a train battle that includes having to jump onto a second train in the middle of it.
  • Splatoon 2: Octo Expansion has the Deepsea Metro, a Sinister Subway that serves as the game's main Hub Level.


Video Example(s):


Mega Man 5

Charge Man's level, which starts at a train platform and then Mega Man enters the train.

How well does it match the trope?

5 (3 votes)

Example of:

Main / LocomotiveLevel

Media sources:

Main / LocomotiveLevel