50: Transport Tycoon Deluxe (1994)
Developer: Chris Sawyer
The pleasures of Transport Tycoon are many. The isometric countryside and urban landscapes are still beautifully tranquil – despite the game’s industrial core, settlements resemble picture-postcard villages and towns rather than smoggy iterations of Dickens’ Coketown. Watching the landscape develop in sync with your ambitions is as rewarding as watching a level 1 Squire become a level 50 Demigod.
Business management games come in many flavours, but few offer the same kind of gentle challenges and immediately recognisable environments as Chris Sawyer’s masterpiece. Transporting goods and passengers might seem like a banal occupation, especially appearing alongside future wars and theme parks, but it’s the familiarity of the systems that makes the game so engaging.
Notes: The soundtrack, composed by John Broomhall, is a bluesy, jazzy delight, including excerpts from Herbie Hancock’s Cantaloupe Island.
The World Editor for the original Transport Tycoon included a Martian tileset.
Where can I buy it: OpenTTD is a free, open source remake. A non-freemium mobile port of the original is also available on iOS and Android.
What else should I be playing if I like this: Cities in Motion and its sequel, from Cities: Skyline developers Colossal Order, present a more detailed (and occasionally fussy) simulation of public transport. Railroad Tycoon and its most recent reinvention Sid Meier’s Railroads is superficially similar, but doesn’t have the dynamic world of Transport Tycoon, and Ticket to Ride, available in physical form or as a digital adaptation, is a very different take on similar themes.
Read more: Memories of a teenage Transport Tycoon.