If you never played the original (or forgot about it), here s how World works: Each level gives you several train tracks, usually stretching from the left side of the screen to the right. Randomly a marker on a track or two will start blinking to signal that a train is coming, and your job is to correctly route it to the track it needs to travel on. You can tell where it s supposed to go by the color, and eventually you ll have several differently colored trains on screen that all need to go to different places. It sounds simple enough, but the trick is to keep them from crashing into each other.
The first time you play the game, you may be forgiven for thinking it s a bit too easy. After all, the trains move slowly and you can even stop them with a tap if things get a out of hand. Eventually, though, things ramp up quite a bit. If you pass a level perfectly (more on that in a second) you ll unlock a harder difficulty where everything moves faster, and the game gets shockingly challenging once you ve sunk a few hours into it.
Part of what makes the game so difficult (later on) is that in order to get a perfect score you have to make sure the trains never lose the stars they carry. You lose stars by stopping the trains or leaving them waiting for directions, so you basically have to scramble and route everything as quickly and efficiently as you can without ever stopping or having any crashes. It s incredibly tricky on higher difficulties, but supremely satisfying when you can pull it off. The trains are random every time, too, so luck plays a small part as well. In fact, sometimes it seems like there s no possible way to beat your current scenario without stopping things since trains often need to go to the same place. Despite that, I do get the sense that if you re clever enough with your routing and re-routing (like deliberately putting a train on the wrong track to stall it or keep it out of the way), pretty much every level and difficulty can (probably) be finished without losing any stars.
Luckily, you don t actually have to play that way. You can take things a bit slower and not worry about the stars and still beat each level and have a good time. You may not unlock the higher difficulties, but you ll still be progressing. That s because each train also carries coins, and when you get enough coins you ll unlock new track tiles. These are used to open new locations on the map, and it s actually pretty clever how it all works: There s a build mode on the level select screen, and when you enter it you ll be able to lay down your tracks however you want. Ideally you ll want to connect the different city hubs together as efficiently as possible to unlock the locations you haven t been to yet, but you re given the freedom to choose how you do it and in what order you unlock new cities. Since this is a free-to-play game, though, that means there are special rare iron tiles you need in order to build over rough terrain. You can combine regular tiles to create the iron tiles, or you can just wait until you get one randomly. Or buy some from the store.
The tile system is definitely there to gently pressure you into spending money, but it s not bad. I ve already unlocked eight locations without spending a dime, and I m having a grand ol time playing through them over and over. There are also ads in the game, including opt-in videos to continue a level once you ve crashed, but they don t get in the way too much and you can get rid of them with a very reasonable $1.99 purchase. The only other IAP in the game is to buy new trains, but these are basically just skins and can easily be ignored if you just want to play for free.
I really can t say enough good things about Train Conductor World. If you were around in the early days of the App Store, the game s touchscreen chaos management will surely fill you with at least some nostalgia, and it s all wrapped up in an incredibly good looking and fair free-to-play package for newcomers. Sure, it d be nice if the iron tile mechanics weren t there to slow your progress down, but the tile system as a whole is such a genius idea that I can forgive the slight freemium squeeze that comes along with it. If you re looking for a game that s fun, challenging, and costs absolutely nothing, then this is the train you re gonna wanna catch.
My feet haven t missed a bike s foot pegs in a very, very long time. And yet, rolling out on a warm San Diego morning, the XDiavel s prove elusive at least at first. They just aren t where I expect them to be, even after an extensive briefing. That is, they re not where they should be on a Ducati. Unlike its X -less predecessor, Ducati s new XDiavel is a forward-controlled commitment by Bologna to take the fight to the largest and most lucrative market in American motorcycling. This is Ducati s first bonafide cruiser at least in concept. Typified by large, soft, V-Twin-powered well, Harleys the cruiser market remains the most successful niche in the industry. It s a sector definitely owned by the bar and shield. Despite the fact that they are failing to attract new riders, Harley Davidson still controls almost half of all motorcycle sales in America, and Ducati (among others) wants a piece of that apple pie. Unlike Harley s offerings and those gaining ground from Indian and Victory Ducati hasn t ever made an Italian Easy Rider. That brand of American rebellion never reached Europe s boot-shaped country, and Bologna doesn t do me-too. Instead, the XDiavel is an Italian interpretation of the cruiser concept, seen strictly through the eyes of the Ducatisti. Sure, the big V-Twin, belt-drive, long rake, forward controls and wide rear tire are present and accounted for, but that s where any similarities end. The XDiavel s styling isn t typical of the genre: it doesn t hang its hat on a 75-year-old design. Instead, it s futuristic, hypertrophic and undoubtedly polarizing for any traditional feet-forward guys who might be cross-shopping. But if you can come to grips with its looks, the ride is rewarding.
Everything enthusiasts find lacking in Harley Davidson s bikes a lack of power, uninspiring handling, squishy brakes and spongy suspension this Duc delivers in spades. The 1262cc Testastretta engine is an absolute marvel. Blip the throttle at a standstill and you can feel violence brewing below. Based off of the 1198 DVT (Desmodromic Valve Timing) mill found in the Multistrada, this L-Twin features a longer stroke to produce a fat and unending dollop of creamy torque, while still churning out a staggering 156 horsepower. Peak grunt is 95 lb/ft delivered at 5,000 rpm, but anywhere from 4k to redline (10,000RPM) the XDiavel pulls like a freight train being force-fed nitromethane. Rolling on the throttle out of corners is addictive, as is blasting down a straightaway. If you pin it at peak and you will, many times the front tire will rise and the roar will get louder. Just be sure to hold on tight, because your legs, splayed out in front of you in this cruiser configuration, do nothing to lock you in place. After only a few short miles, that beautiful engine will coax you to try stupid things. (Like winding it out to triple-digit speeds in third gear with a right-hander fast approaching, for instance. I trail braked into that turn, and didn t carry the speed necessary to exploit the 40-degree lean angle the XDiavel touts.) But it doesn t matter: go faster next time. The Brembo M50 braking system (on the XDiavel S model) is more than capable of reigning in you and 545 pounds of road-hungry bike; I never felt any fade and brake modulation was sublime. After stringing together a few more curves, dipping lower and lower, I was amazed at how crisply this cruiser attacked apexes. Things change only slightly on the standard trim model. While still Brembo branded, the standard model s braking system is the M32 unit and the lever-pull up front felt vague in comparison. In those first few switchbacks, pulling, waiting for the binders to bite before lean-in, I had visions of planted pegs (and riding eternal, shiny and black), but the Sachs (rear) and Marzocchi (front) suspension kept the 240-series rear tire planted confidently. As a rule of physics, bikes with these ergonomics shouldn t corner like this or so I thought. The XDiavel is a cruiser in concept and foot positioning only; it actually seems happiest when given the super sport treatment. I pity any buyers who plan to ride this thing like it s in a parade. But that s where my issues with the XDiavel lie. Despite its Panigale-inspired competencies, the XDiavel is not the bike those footpegs would lead you to believe it is. Ride it like a cruiser, chugging around town with your left hand dangling off the bars and the bike won t be happy. There is mechanical discordance below 4000 rpm. The driveline chatters and lugs, no doubt desperate for its torque fix, and sends vibration right into the small of your back (or mine at least). The only solution is to downshift, or go faster. For sportbike riders, this is nothing new but, the denim vest crowd tends to move at a more relaxed pace, lounging happiest low in the rev range. They ll find the rear suspension is a bit firm, which, given the seating position, can be problematic. At posted speeds on less than brand new asphalt, in sixth gear for hours on end, comfort would be an elusive mistress.
To properly enjoy the bike, you d have to reevaluate your definition of cruiser and ride the beast like you stole it every time you fired it up. Conversely, you could order your XDiavel with a set of optional mid-controls, locating them where the original Diavel s lived. You d stay locked in during spirited rides, could easily lift yourself to cover bumpy terrain and you d never misplace your feet rolling off the line. The XDiavel is an incredible machine that is quintessentially Ducati a muscle bike that needs to flex but it s a cruiser in concept only.
Rick Steves and I have been getting so many requests regarding the logistics of our Cuba trip. And with travel restrictions slowly easing for Americans, we know more and more people will soon be heading to our neighbor in the Caribbean.
Vibrant and colorful Cuba awaits you. With that in mind, Rick has asked me to create a nitty gritty list of the resources, contacts, and services we used to help you organize your own Cuban vacation. Keep in mind that things are changing all the time in Cuba. The existing embargo, current travel restrictions, limited Internet access in Cuba, and life under a communist regime might cause minor complications, but they ll be more an inconvenience than anything else. If you use smart resources, study your guidebooks, and know in advance what to expect, you ll be well prepared for your Cuban adventures.
WHAT TO READ
Lonely Planet Cuba
Cuba for the Misinformed: Facts from the Forbidden Island by Mick Winter
Real Havana: Explore Cuba Like a Local and Save by Mario Rizzi
Cuba as Never Before: The Absolutely Positively Unauthorized Guide by Louis Nevaer
WHAT TO WATCH
Fidel: The Untold Story directed by Estela Bravo (YouTube, Netflix)
Che starring Benicio del Toro and directed by Steven Soderbergh (Netflix)
Curtain of Water (PBS)
The Fidel Castro Tapes (PBS)
Pre-Castro Cuba, Castro and the Cold War
Cuban Literacy Movement
Travels to Real Cuba (It s in Spanish with Spanish subtitles, but the visuals are well worth your while)
WHERE TO STAY
Point2Cuba; Vi ales
Casa Chuchi y Mamita, 2BR/2BA
Book direct: [email protected]
- ^ Lonely Planet Cuba (www.amazon.com)
- ^ Cuba for the Misinformed: Facts from the Forbidden Island by Mick Winter (www.amazon.com)
- ^ Real Havana: Explore Cuba Like a Local and Save by Mario Rizzi (www.amazon.com)
- ^ Cuba as Never Before: The Absolutely Positively Unauthorized Guide by Louis Nevaer (www.amazon.com)
- ^ How to Travel to (and in) Cuba (nyti.ms)
- ^ Fidel: The Untold Story directed by Estela Bravo (www.youtube.com)
- ^ Che starring Benicio del Toro and directed by Steven Soderbergh (www.netflix.com)
- ^ Curtain of Water (www.pbs.org)
- ^ The Fidel Castro Tapes (www.pbs.org)
- ^ Pre-Castro Cuba, Castro and the Cold War (www.pbs.org)
- ^ Cuban Literacy Movement (www.youtube.com)
- ^ Travels to Real Cuba (www.youtube.com)
- ^ Point2Cuba (www.point2cuba.com)