Follow TV Tropes


Video Game / Transarctica

Go To
A Cool Train roaming the glacial wastes of Post Apocalyptic Earth during a new ice age.
...And the sun continued to shine its benevolent rays across the top of the opaque cloud layer, hidden from human eyes. The sun continued to shine.

Transarctica is a 1993 strategy/adventure game developed by the French software company Silmarils. It was released for the Amiga, Atari ST, IBM Personal Computer, and Macintosh. It originated as an adaptation of the French novel series La Compagnie des glaces ("The Ice Company"), a 98-volume series by Georges-Jean Arnaud with the same premise. This game has a poor English translation, but that doesn't stop it from being enjoyable.

In the year 2022, the world was plagued by Global Warming. In order to cool the Earth, Professor John Merrick decides that nuclear weapons are the solution. By detonating nukes at each pole, a huge cloud of dust and steam would form thick clouds that would block out the sun. And that's exactly what happened, except that the clouds were bigger than predicted and the Earth cooled down so much it brought about a new Ice Age. With the world in a deep freeze, civilization came to an end: nice job breaking it Merrick.


By the year 2714, the world is still frozen, humanity is barely hanging in there, and the sun becomes a thing of myth. Oh, and woolly mammoths are no longer extinct. The only way to travel safely across the frozen wastes is by train, and only the Viking Union controls the worldwide railroad. A cult of sun believers, known as the Ambivalents, are convinced that there is a heavenly ball of light beyond the clouds, and will do anything to prove it. The leader of the fanatical sun cult, you, has managed to take over a Cool Train, the titular Transarctica, and they set out to realise their dream of the sun's return. Except for the other Cool Trains still owned by the evil corporation, who isn't quite as keen to bring back the Sun as you and your followers.


This video game provides examples of the following:

  • After the End: The whole world is in the grip of a new ice age caused by thick clouds, with the sun (and possibly the moon and stars too) becoming all but legendary.
  • An Entrepreneur Is You: Trading is a significant part of the game, and a good way to make money.
  • Boss in Mook Clothing: The Minotaur. The Viking Union's ultimate armoured train looks like every other enemy train on the strategic map. However, even if it has no special abilities, its sheer firepower and hordes of soldiers it sends against you make it significantly more difficult to defeat that other enemy trains you encounter.
  • Broken Bridge: Unless you have the wood, the steel, manpower, or mammothpower, you're going to have to go all the way around.
  • Church Militant: You play as the leader of one. For once their crazy beliefs are actually right.
  • Cool Train: Where the majority of the game takes place. In addition to normal train cars, it can pull barracks, gardens, prisons, workshops, guns mounted on wagons, and a rocket launch pad.
  • Covers Always Lie: The box image you see at the top of the page isn't what the Transarctica looks like in the game, but it does look appropriately cool. What it is is the image that inspired the whole game in the first place.
  • Crapsack World: In addition to hardship from now-frozen Earth along with Viking Union and their monopolistic stranglehold over transports, the aspect of slavery in the game emphasized the bleak nature of the game.
  • Diesel Punk: The aesthetic is definitely there, along with hues of Used Future.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: The player can find a way to clear the giant clouds and bring sunlight to the frozen surface.
  • Energy Economy: Coal is the Global Currency, because heating is a premium in the new ice age. Tedious people constantly talked about their fortunes going "up in smoke." Until they were thrown out in the cold and froze to death.
  • Explosive Overclocking: A train's boiler can only take so much pressure. It isn't worth the risk.
    "It was a splendid explosion. Debris spread over hundreds of meters. How could you be so incompetent as to let the pressure build up so high?"
  • Genre-Busting: Even to this day, 18 years after its release, Transarctica remains a unique fusion of several different genres.
  • Goal-Oriented Evolution: Woolly mammoths came back because the elephants adapted to the cold.
  • Gone Horribly Right: They wanted to cool the Earth down, and they did.
  • Gone Horribly Wrong: Nuclear winter to stop global warming? Did they think this plan through?
  • Have a Nice Death: There's a different Game Over message for each different game ending situation, but all messages end with the text at the top of this page.
  • Land Mine Goes "Click!": There is a certain location crucial to the main quest which is accessible only through a labyrinth of booby-trapped tracks. Since triggering a mine will destroy your train immediately, the only way to pass through is to use line inspection cars to detonate it. However, after doing this the player has to repair the damaged track in order to move farther.
  • The Many Deaths of You: There are many ways to lose the game: you could run out of coal, overload the engine's boiler (making it explode), lose an essential rail car in battle, or you could just shoot yourself to end it all.
  • Made a Slave: You can capture the crews of Viking trains and enslave them to work in your coal mines, or purchase slaves in towns to the same effect. Additionally, it is possible to capture slaves while fighting the Mole Men in underground tunnels.
  • Mammoths Mean Ice Age: After everlasting clouds blocked out the sun and plunged the Earth into a new, harsh glacial period, mammoths reappeared as elephants grew thick coats to adapt to the cold.
  • Mega-Corp: The Viking Union owns all trains and monopolizes rail trade. They aren't particularly happy about the Ambivalents controlling one of their trains. They are also delaying any attempts on ending the current Ice Age for sake of their status-quo.
  • Mole Men: Savage tribals who live in the tunnels and attack passing trains. You can enslave them.
  • Nonstandard Game Over: The button for 'Quit Game' is a revolver, and when you press it your character shoots himself in the head.
  • Press X to Die: The aforementioned revolver.
  • Real-Time Strategy: During battles the game switches to a mode that is essentially this — especially notable because this game came out several years before Trope Codifier Command & Conquer, although it is substantially different than that game.
  • Savage Wolves: One of possible random encounters you need to repel while travelling through the frozen Eurasia.
  • Sinister Subway: The underground tunnels can be very useful as shortcuts to distant locations, but their inhabitants, savage tribals called the Mole Men, have the nasty habit of ambushing trains passing by. This can result in heavy losses in manpower and resources, but on the other hand it's an opportunity to catch fresh slaves. In the name of humanity's salvation, of course.
  • Stock Ness Monster: There's a bridge over a lake in the north-western part of game map guarded by this monster. Crossing it without the unique harpoon car, which can obtained in only one location, is definitely a bad idea.
  • Time Bomb: During a train battle, both sides can send soldiers with timed explosives to destroy enemy train cars. It is possible to defuse a bomb if you're quick enough to send an infantry unit.
  • Traintop Battle: Will happen during train-to-train combat.
  • The War Room: One of the essential rail cars, complete with Mission Control radio (for dispatched spies), map table, and a guy who's in charge of sending self-powered handcars ahead of the train (for scouting purposes).


How well does it match the trope?

Example of:


Media sources: