A (Subway) Platform Game: Mini Metro

By Graham Smith on March 10th, 2014 at 10:00 am.

Live your dreams. Make a Circle Line which is an actual circle.

Why are the trains in Britain always late? Here is one possible reason: efficiently connecting train routes is flipping hard. I only realised this while playing Mini Metro, a Ludum Dare entry turned alpha for a full game which arrived right on time when I needed something to play this weekend. It’s a neat strategy game, as visually clean as the finest tube maps, and currently freely available to play in your browser.

You begin Mini Metro with three unconnected stations and draw routes between them on new or existing trainlines. Gradually, more stations spring up that need to be connected to your system, and at the end of each week you select one from a set of possible upgrades such as unlocking new lines, new tunnels, or upgrading your trains. All the while, as your service grows, so do the number of people using it. When overcrowding shuts down a station, that’s when it’s game over.

I can get up to around 550 passengers before it all comes apart for me, like London on a strike day. There’s no penalty to removing and re-drawing your routes, and you can pause the game by clicking the clock in the top right corner, yet still I find that I’m defeated by a problem by the time I’ve noticed it’s happening. Imagine doing this in real life and having to work around buildings being in the way of your most efficient routes, or thousands of feet of soil.

Mini Metro is up on Steam Greenlight for those who want to give it a push down the tracks… towards the Steam train?

It’s a small thing, but I’ve had the tab open with the game running for the past 40 hours. I wish it had a zen mode with no failure state, which I could leave running forever and occasionally tend to, like an ant farm.

In any case, go have a play.

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25 Comments »

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  1. Premium User Badge

    timur says:

    Lynn, I’m not playing a Mini Metro game!

  2. Mags says:

    I seem to be addicted to this, but it is really bastarding hard.

  3. mechabuddha says:

    What I love about this game is having to plan for an unexpected future. The game is very unforgiving of redrawing your existing lines. It’s like the populace didn’t get my notice that station 3 was being shut down over the weekend for repairs! So you have to set your lines up in a way that can easily accommodate future stations. Except you have no clue where those stations are! Stupid people, not expanding the population center in a predictable way! My ultimate solution was to simply destroy everyone in the city all at once. Foolish department of transportation, giving me a button to control thermonuclear warheads!

  4. Premium User Badge

    Tom-INH says:

    It really is excellent. So simple, but so well executed.

  5. Koozer says:

    Excellent. Relaying track can be a bit of a fiddly pain though. And in the game.

    • P.Funk says:

      Agreed about the fiddly track. I have lost several times because I spent upwards of 30 seconds trying to redirect a line only to watch a station get overloaded.

      My best so far is 519 passengers serviced.

      Anyone else found a strategy? I have mine. :D

      • Koldunas says:

        Got 528. It seems one of the most important things is having a good mix of symbols in a line, e.g. not having multiple sequential circles and making sure that the line is either not too long or loops. It felt like a lot more could be done if lines could zig-zag more, it would allow to have more lines connected to a single station, but it’s pretty hard when you have 2/3 tunnels AND you can’t cross lines :(

  6. psuedonymous says:

    Fiends! Monsters! Why on earth would you not call this game ‘Mornington Crescent’?!

  7. Premium User Badge

    LogicalDash says:

    Strategy That Worked Better Than Expected: Connect every single station with one line, and upgrade that one line at every opportunity.

  8. Tsarcastic says:

    After playing this game for a while, I’m pretty sure I’ll well inoculated against cooties.

  9. peterc_nz says:

    One of the devs here. Thank you for the article! We are working on an infinite play sandbox mode for release.

    • macaddct says:

      Any plans on making a mobile iOS/Android app? This would work beautifully with a touchscreen interface

      • peterc_nz says:

        Yes, definitely! We’ll release on at least Android tablets and iPad. As it is currently it doesn’t play well on smaller screens, but we’re thinking about making some changes to fix that. If we do we’ll roll them together into a universal app.

  10. The Random One says:

    Reminds me of the good old days of building metro lines in the first Cities in Motion. Oh, how many parks were ruined.

  11. The Rt Hon Player 2 MP says:

    This is really fun. I kept making mine so the Piccadilly Line was desperately overcrowded.

  12. DrLeoWollman says:

    Hooray! I’ve been playing one of the old alphas I downloaded a while ago, didn’t think to check if there was a new build yet.

    The changes are so good: starting with more than one tunnel, train upgrades improving speed as well as capacity, station upgrades, randomising the start positions, all the little UI tweaks. Looks like I’m going to be sinking even more hours into this little bastard.

  13. Ridnarhtim says:

    I can’t even get to 500. This is ridiculously hard.

  14. pertusaria says:

    This is really neat. I got to slightly over 400 passengers and felt a huge sense of achievement. Can’t wait for a downloadable version that will remember your best scores and possibly let you frame treasured layouts.

  15. Jurambalco says:

    720! This game is pretty cool, but i feel it would be best if we could manage the difficulty. Like the possibility of setting more or less hour in a day, to have more or less frequency of upgrades.

  16. TiagoTiago says:

    It seemed fun in the beginning, but the more i play the more unforgiving it feels. It’s turning from fun into an exercise in endurance and masochism. And unlike with Dwarf Fortress, loosing here ain’t fun.

    It gets too hard too fast, without providing means for the player to keep up. It wouldn’t surprise me if it was mathematically proven it is impossible to not lose even with the best strategy possible.