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Video Game / Densha de Go!

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More fun than it looks.
Densha de Go! is a series of arcade style train simulations from Taito that were released in Japan. The games have gained somewhat of a cult following outside Japan, despite none of them ever officially leaving the country. Relatively easy to learn how to play but difficult to master, the game has you in control of one of many trains running in Japan, stopping at stations properly and obeying various signs and signals along the way. Different games have different selections of trains available. The series began in arcades and has been ported to many consoles, including PSX, PS2, PC, N64, and the DS, Wonderswan and PSP.

So far the Densha De Go games that have been released are:

  • Densha de Go! (1996)
  • Densha de Go! 2 Kōsoku-hen (1998)
  • Kisha de Go! (1999, focused on steam locomotives)
  • Densha de Go! Nagoya Railroad (2000)
  • Densha de GO! Professional (2001)
  • Densha de Go! 3 Tsūkin-hen (2002)
  • Densha de Go! Shinkansen Sanyō Shinkansen-hen (2002, 2006 for Nintendo Wii)
  • Densha de Go! Ryojōhen (2003, focused on trams and light rail)
  • Densha de Go! Professional 2 (2004)
  • Densha de GO! Final (2004, intended to be the last mainline game of the series)
  • Densha de Go! Special Version—Revived! Showa Yamanote Line (2010, a Continuity Reboot of the franchise)
  • Densha de Go!! (2017, a constantly updated arcade title running on the NESiCAxLive platform.)
  • Densha de Go!!: Hashirou Yamanote Line (December 2020 for PlayStation 4, March 2021 for Nintendo Switch. A home console version based off of the 2017 arcade game, with a few runs from it ported as well. The PlayStation 4 version supports the PSVR headset for the Yamanote line runs from the arcade.)

Compare the Landing Series, another Taito series about operating mass-transit vehicles.

Tropes present in this game series :

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality:
    • There’s no way to derail the train or otherwise get in an accident in any of the games, because the games are punishing enough and the potential of possibly killing your passengers wouldn’t really make the game any more fun. If any circumstance would come up where a collision would occur, the train will simply harmlessly stop just before it occurs, though at a large time penalty to you.
    • The 2017 arcade game, and by extension Hashirou Yamanote features the opening and closing doors before the gap at some of the stations on the Yamanote Line, as had been added earlier in the decade. While this would realistically shorten the acceptable stopping distance to roughly +-40cm, the game instead opts to ignore this and give the standard 5m stopping range.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • To help curb the difficulty of the first two games, Professional and Nagoya Railroad made two major changes, which were adopted by most further home games: the addition of a Navigator window on the side of the screen, which alerts you to changes in speed limits, traffic signals, and other important points of note ahead of time, and expanding the stop window from 2 metres to up to 5 metres for easier runs.
    • Passing by/stopping at stations too early in Final no longer risks having your speed capped in the next section, though you’ll still miss out on points for doing so.
  • Bonus Stage:
    • Present in several games, played by stopping at a certain station well, and involves coupling two trains together. Succeeding will result in either a time or score bonus, depending on the game.
    • 3 has a different bonus stage- you start at a certain speed and need to pass a station at a specific slower speed without being shown your current speed. The closer you come to the specified speed as you pass, the more bonus time you receive.
  • Cap:
    • In games that use the "spare time" system, the maximum amount of spare time you can have is 999 seconds.
    • Final has a maximum possible score of 999,999 points. The chain multiplier also caps out at 50x base value, however the actual chain can extend beyond this.
  • Challenge Run: Want to test your knowledge of each line? Turn off the distance and Navigator windows, or even the speedometer!
  • Clock King: Befitting of a game based on the Japanese Rail system, if you want to master this game, you need to become one. The earliest games in the series were the most demanding of this- arrive at a station too late and you’ll lose precious spare time, arrive too early and your speed will be limited in the next section, possibly causing you to be late.
  • Cool Train: Quite a few:
    • The famous Yamanote line is a route in several of the games, complete with its trademark green striped commuter trains.
    • In 2 and Professional there's the Akita Shinkansen, which hooks up to another Shinkansen for the final leg of the journey. Badass.
      • Shinkansen has the original 0 series Shinkansen (which has since been retired) and the awesome Nozomi Super Express, which can reach a top speed of 300 km/h.
    • Ryojōhen has the Botchan Ressa train, a street running steam train converted to diesel.
    • On the Tōkaidō line, there is the 223 series, a train with electronic chimes that play instead of a horn.
      • Several of the Nagoya Railroad trains have musical horns too, which play a tune that sounds somewhat like the NBC chimes repeated twice and sped up.
      • Nagoya Railroad even lets you drive a monorail. (One that sadly has ceased to exist due to low ridership)
  • Embedded Precursor: The 2017 arcade game also allows you to play the first and second Densha de GO! games, with the main screen and touchscreen control panel simulating the look of the arcade cabinet of those games.
  • Flawless Victory: While you want to arrive at your destination as close as possible to the designated stop point and scheduled time anyway, the game will often reward you for pulling off stops right at the stop marker and arriving at stations perfectly on time:
    • In earlier games with the “spare time” system, successfully stopping 0cm away from the stop marker awards an “Excellent!” bonus that adds 10 seconds of time to your spare time. Passing stations right at the scheduled time gives a “Teitsū” award that gives increasing amounts of bonus time each time in a row you do so.
    • Final awards a 200 point bonus times your chain multiplier (max 50x) for a 0cm stop.
    • 2017 and Hashirou Yamanote has a special announcer callout and graphic on the results screen for nailing a 0cm stop. Notably, this game measures to tenths of a centimetre, and if you manage to get a 0.0cm stop while arriving on schedule, the announcer sounds outright shocked and you’ll earn a different graphic for it. Performing any of these on missions in Hashirou Yamanote that use the mission meter will also significantly refill the meter.
  • Game Over: Occurs in most early games by running out of spare time, in Shinkansen by failing to meet the point quota for a stop, in Final by having your passenger Life Meter run out, and in Hashirou Yamanote by failing any tasks or letting the mission meter run out during a mission.
  • Interface Screw: Expert Mode in 3 and Professional Mode in Professional 2 hides or obscures most of the HUD elements, including the distance to the next station, which makes the game a test of knowledge about the line you’re driving. Many other games also have a button mapping to remove these elements.
  • Life Meter: The various games in the series have different means of employing this:
    • Most early games prior to Shinkansen have a counter indicating your "spare time", combining this trope with a Timed Mission. The counter decreases by running late to a station, overrunning a stop, or by suffering penalties, and increases by performing stops and passes well, and through other actions such as honking your horn at certain spots. If it hits zero at any time, the game ends.
    • Shinkansen has a meter showing your performance, indicated by a row of passengers interacting in certain ways (in the non-Wii versions) or a simple gauge that moves up and down (in the Wii version). Unlike the other examples, this exists purely to show your performance and getting it too low won't instantly end your game (though chances are, if it gets too low you won't be making it past the next stop anyway).
    • Final uses a row of passenger icons which empty out in multiples of half-icons as penalties are amassed, with higher difficulties giving you fewer icons to work with. note  Emptying out the meter ends the game.
    • Hashirou Yamanote has missions that employ the use of one, in a manner similar to the first games in the series. The mission begins with a certain portion of the meter filled in green, and each section of the mission has a larger portion filled in yellow that lasts until the train stops at the station, based on how much time is given to reach the station. The meter starts slowly emptying starting with the yellow portion once the doors close and drains further with penalties, while performing positive actions adds to the green portion. An empty meter does not end the game, but will instead start filling up with red. If the meter is empty or red after a stop, the mission will come to an early end. There is also a mode in Free Run that tests how far you can travel with a meter that does not refill.
  • Loads and Loads of Loading: The 2017 arcade game can unfortunately suffer from this when starting a new game.
  • Ludicrous Precision: While most games in the series measure stop distances in centimetres, the 2017 arcade game and Hashirou Yamanote takes it a step higher and measures them in tenths of centimetres.
  • Nintendo Hard:
    • The first 2 games were ported to console directly from their arcade versions and as a result are quite unforgiving. Later games are less strict but later routes are tough.
    • The 2017 arcade game and Hashirou Yamanote qualify as a result of how much you need to focus and keep an eye on to get the best scores- on top of arriving on time, stopping properly, and obeying speed limits, you have to follow speed checkpoints, honk for construction workers, railfans, and iron bridges, dim the lights for incoming trains, and learn how to perform "rolling stops". During missions in Hashirou Yamanote on Normal difficulty, you'll be penalized for stops more than a metre from the stop point, while Hard and Very Hard gives you half a metre.
  • Non Standard Game Over: Can occur in Shinkansen by stopping in place for several minutes or falling too far behind schedule, and in the 2017 arcade game by letting the timer shown on the left-hand screen run out. Neither are likely to happen unless a player is actively trying to cause it.
  • Oh, Crap!: Seeing the emergency signal flashing (and in some cases the alarm bell ringing), which basically means “engage the emergency brake right now and pray that you slow down fast enough to avoid a collision”.
  • Press X to Die: During any mission in Hashirou Yamanote that requires you to not engage the emergency brake, pressing the button that does so (L2 on Playstation) at any time, even when stopped at the station, will result in an automatic mission failure at the end of the section.
  • Scenery Porn:
    • Most of the routes are through the same city/town areas, but occasionally you get some nice scenic routes like the one you drive the DD51 diesel engine on in Professional.
    • The 2017 arcade game is filled with it, thanks to the HD graphics and triple-monitor panoramic view. The VR mode of Hashirou Yamanote simulates the inside-the-cab feel of the arcade game.
  • Schmuck Bait:
    • The harder runs in Final will often have speed checkpoints that require you to go at the same speed as the speed limit or require you to slow down to meet the time/speed checkpoints. If you go for them, you may end up suffering some penalties due to exceeding the speed limit or being late for the next station.
    • Some other speed checkpoints have required speeds higher than the current speed limit, as the limit will be raised or removed before the checkpoint is hit. An inattentive driver can get fooled by this and suffer a speeding penalty as a result.
  • Scoring Points: A few different systems have been used throughout the series. Games before Final graded you in five (four in the original game) different categories note  and, with the exception of Professional 2 and Shinkansen, combined it with your distance and remaining time to form your score. Final uses a more arcade-like scoring system based on chain multipliers, and 2017 and Hashirou Yamanote uses another arcade-like system.
  • Timed Mission:
    • Obviously you need to get to each station on time, though this is enforced even for stations that you don't stop at. However, arriving too early will cause your train to have its speed temporarily capped in the next segment.
    • In a cross between this trope and a Life Meter, the earlier games in the series have a counter displaying remaining seconds that decreases for every second that you are late (normally one second, but harder lines will deduct two seconds per second!). It also decreases for various penalties such as breaking speed limits or sufficiently misaligned stops. Well-timed, accurate stops will sometimes gain seconds back, as well as certain actions such as optionally honking your horn at certain spots. If this counter hits 0 seconds, Game Over. Completing the run without running out of time in most games will add your remaining time to your score, so there is a greater incentive to perform well.
  • Train Problem: You’re given the exact time to arrive and the distance to your destination, you have to figure out how fast you have to go along the way in real time, factoring in speed limits and other conditions.
  • Trial-and-Error Gameplay: While most of the time you'll be warned of negative changes in speed limits, some of these changes don't have warnings, meaning that unless you know the change in advance, you will take a time penalty.
  • Unstable Equilibrium: Fall behind schedule for a pass or a stop and you’ll have to make up that time in the next section. Depending on how late you are, this can spiral out of control until you get a Game Over.
  • Video Game Caring Potential: 2017 adds railfans waving to the driver near the tracks. Honking your horn at them awards bonus points.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: You can make your ride as unpleasant for your passengers as possible, such as excessively honking your horn or giving them whiplash, though doing so will result in penalties.