Retro Review: Railroad Tycoon for DOS Platform

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Railroad Tycoon Rules (4 out of 5)

Sid Meier’s Railroad Tycoon is one of his best games after his Civilization and Pirates. The game influenced many other Simulation games including Transport Tycoon. Released in the early 90s, the game had no 3D animation or graphics but it received rave reviews from critics, especially for its concept and gameplay. It is still being played by gamers who love management games. There are a number of sequels and clones of this game, but Railroad Tycoon rules the Sim gaming arena.

Gameplay (5 out of 5)

The gameplay is simple, and the rules are straight. Players, as ambitious businessman of a railroad company, have to compete with other AI companies to gain monopoly in the railroad business. The main objective is to build industries for producing trains and railroads and connect many cities to earn profits. There are a variety of locations including the eastern and the western part of North America and Europe. Players have to select a location from a given map and have to build and run a railroad and earn profits from their business. The intense competition allows companies to prevent its opponents from generating profits in one’s own location as well as take over their lines and run them out of business. Moreover, the stations can also be expanded by building restaurants and post offices. This helps to increase the number of passengers and helps companies to increase extra profits.

The game also lets players increase their earnings through buying and selling stocks from other companies. But the real threat lies in getting taken over by rival AI companies, especially when the rival AI runs lines into the same station causing a rate war. The best way is to create many industries and buildings and connect as many cities to overpower them. Alternatively, one can disrupt their flourishing business by buying more than half of their stocks, if there are enough funds. Players can upgrade their steam engines and stations, but it depends on the period chosen. A player wins if he attracts more passengers and goods to the city and delivers goods and supplies to other cities.

Features (3 out of 5)

Railroad Tycoon does not boast good graphics but concentrates more on the concept and gameplay. The average VGA graphics and the adlib tunes are okay. There are some animated scenes and news flashes on various events that happened in a particular era. As for the controls, players need to hold down the shift key and use the numeric keypad to build railroads or buildings. The function keys play a major role in zooming in and out of a map.


Railroad Tycoon has loads of re-playability and it depends entirely on the choices made by the players. It is recommended to read the manual (included in the game) as players may miss some important details and clues without it. It is certainly a ‘rare’ and excellent game for collectors and players who love games of the strategy and managerial genre.