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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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  • The Legend of Zelda: Spirit Tracks, as the name suggests, has some of these.
  • In Samurai Jack: Battle Through Time, the last segment of Aku City has Jack traversing through a train with various foes up to a battle with the Clenches.
  • 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.
  • Uncharted:
  • Mirror's Edge, where Faith surfs the train, in addition to one Train Escape.
  • Tomb Raider
    • Tomb Raider: The Last Revelation features and extensive fight from one end of a cargo train to another, often forcing Lara to precariously cling to the side of a moving train to advance.
  • Spider-Man (2000) on PlayStation 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.
    • 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.
  • A mission in Zone of the Enders: The 2nd Runner involves chasing a train before it can deliver a deadly payload to the Redshirt Army. But since you have to destroy said train, it plays more like a Battleship Raid.


    Beat Em' Up 
  • Bloody Zombies have the level in the London Metro where you must fight your way through a train infested with undead. One section have you finding a shortcut by climbing on top of the moving train, but must deal with the Low Clearance ahead.
  • Slaps And Beans have the first stage, set in a Western town, where Bud and Terence fights their way through mooks on an old-timey steam locomotive.
  • 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.
  • Train Crasher, like the name states, is set entirely on a subway train, where the players move from one carriage to another beating up every mook in their way until reaching the front of each train with a boss waiting for them.

    First-Person Shooter 
  • Level 3 in Outlaws takes place on a train.
  • E1L3 in the original Blood takes place on the Phantom Express train owned by the Cabal. Caleb navigates it from the very front of the locomotive to the caboose and back again. In the sequel, Blood II: The Chosen, three levels take place in moving subway trains; two end in a train crash, while the third has you jump from one train to the other right in front.
  • Gordon Freeman spends a lot of time on trains, although rarely during active gameplay.
    • Half-Life famously starts with him in a long ride on an elevated tram. The "On A Rail" chapter of the original game is the only time in the series where Gordon actively pilots the rail vehicle.
    • Half-Life 2 has him arrive in City 17 on a train; and in Episode One, he and Alyx hitch a ride on a Combine train, and later use a rebel-operated train to escape from the city. In both cases, the ride is essentially a cutscene by the game's standards.
  • Unreal Tournament
    • The first game has AS-HiSpeed, where the attackers drop from a helicopter onto the rear of a cargo train and have to fight their way to the front and override the controls.
    • Spiritual successor AS-Convoy in Unreal Tournament 2004 is of a similar concept, albeit with a Base on Wheels and its attendant vehicles rather than a train.
  • 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.
  • Lethal Enforcers 2 have the fourth stage, the Train Robbery, where your sheriff hero arrives at a train only to find out it's filled with hostile bandidos. Cue a chase scene-shootout, with you on horseback against the villains.
  • 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.

  • 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.
    • In the Endwalker expansion for Final Fantasy XIV, the beginning of the Tower of Babil dungeon involves fighting several Mecha-Mooks on a supply train on its way to the tower itself.
    • Dissidia Final Fantasy 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.
  • 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.
  • In Kingdom Hearts 3D: Dream Drop Distance, the Solar Sailer in The Grid takes on an appearance similar to a freight train.
  • Part of one of the final dungeons in Secret of Mana takes place on an undead-infested metro train.
  • The first boss of Persona 3, Priestess, hijacks a train S.E.E.S. is investigating, also a Time-Limit Boss.
  • Pokémon:
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Mega Man Battle Network 6: Cybeast Gregar and Cybeast Falzar had the Link Navi mission with ChargeMan.EXE in the Gregar version. Said Navi offers his services to transport NPCs to various areas of the Net in a minigame where he tries to go from Point A to Point B without losing his passengers.

    Survival Horror 

  • 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.
  • The final stage of Hitman 3 is a No-Gear Level set on a train, which Agent 47 boards as a Trojan Prisoner and then has to make his way to the front to finally confront The Constant. You can choose to either sneak through each car or climb around on the outside, and the front car can of course be decoupled from the rest of the train once you get there. It's also the only level where you can kill indiscriminately, since everyone there is a Providence member.

    Third-Person Shooter 

    Wide-Open Sandbox 
  • Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas has three: CJ hitches a ride on a train and steal its cargo, he's on a motorcycle keeping up alongside the train, the last is on a jetpack flying around the train. There are side-missions where he can drive a train, but nothing interesting happens at all, unless the train is intentionally crashed.
  • You find yourself amidst a Train Job in Red Dead Revolver while going to Brimstone.
  • 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 NES game Cowboy Kid has one before the battle with Slash Joe.
  • Jedi Academy had a level where you had to disarm a bomb on a crowded train, and then stop the bad guys from ramming it into the station.
  • The Last Express was set entirely on a train. The Orient Express, to be precise.
  • 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.
  • Metal Slug 2's third stage is a train battle that includes having to jump onto a second train in the middle of it.


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

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