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Lionel City Builder 3D: Rise of the Rails Review

Lionel City Builder 3D: Rise of the Rails

Release: January 14, 2016
Publisher: Big John Games
Developer: Big John Games
Genre: Nintendo 3DS Reviews, Simulation


Rent it About Rating
5.0 - Gameplay
4.5 - Video
7.0 - Audio

In a desolate future, a man and his dog need your help. No, this isn’t Fallout 4. I’m talking about Lionel City Builder 3D: Rise of the Rails, a train simulation game released recently for the 3DS. In the game, you drive trains and deliver stuff in the Story Mode and build stuff in the Creation Mode. But what if you have no interest in trains? Is Lionel City Builder a good game for everyone, a good one for just train enthusiasts, or should you just avoid the game completely?

carry cargo

Lionel City Builder sets up an interesting story about a desolate future and having to rebuild the railroad, but it fails to deliver on its promise. Instead of building up the railroad, you spend most of your time in Story Mode learning how to control the train and deliver various things to docks or checkpoints. The mode starts off as very repetitive and then just becomes frustrating and boring.

The worst part of Story Mode are the timed missions. The game doesn’t give you enough time to complete its very tricky missions. I found these missions to be annoying and not fun at all. The train is easy to control via the game’s excellent touch screen interface, but the missions are way too repetitive. If you need a break from the Story Mode, you should try out the Creation Mode.

Creation Mode is a lot better than Story Mode, but its still not what it should be. I like that you can place buildings and other objects around the train tracks, but I was very disappointed by how you build your track. Instead of letting you place tracks down one at a time, the game gives you an already designed track that you can manipulate and change. I would have preferred a more direct way of creating a track. Even so, the creation mode’s touch screen interface is just as good as the train’s controls and I think some people might enjoy the Creation Mode.

One of the best aspects of Creation Mode is the ability to share your levels (or objects) via QR codes! I really like this feature. If only the creation mode was a bit better, I’m sure there’d be a lot of people sharing levels. As it is, I haven’t seen anyone sharing levels. Its too bad because I’m sure some people could create some cool things even with the game’s limited creation mode.

Finally, Lionel City Builder features achievements and unlockable stages. None of this is too exciting, but at least the game is trying to present a lot of content.

farm bridge

Lionel City Builder has really muddy, almost DSI-Ware like graphics. The introduction of the game is a series of still drawings with words that don’t make a good first impression for the game. Lionel City has 3D and while the game does look a bit better in 3D, its still not much of an improvement. I also didn’t how the trains would drive right through anything that was on the tracks: mountains, vegetation, and people included. The game seems slapped together visually. Its still not the worst looking game I’ve seen on the 3DS though.

Lionel City’s audio, however, is good. I like the game‘s music (even though there isn’t a lot of it) and the voice & sound effects in the game really shine. The voice that tells you “All aboard!” or other things before you start a level sounds just like you‘d want it to. And the game‘s sound effects are very good! The game’s audio atmosphere really makes you feel like your driving a train. Lionel City Builder’s audio is definitely the best part of the game.

on the bridge

Lionel City Builder has a limited audience. I think people who enjoy sims and especially people who love trains will be interested in the game. Though, even those people should temper their expectations. The game’s Story Mode is more like a tutorial and its Creation Mode isn’t as good as it should be. Yet the game does make an effort to make use of the 3DS by way of the touch screen and QR code sharing. That is a lot more than some games on the 3DS do. I just wish the game was a lot better. If there is ever a sequel to this game, I’d love to see a more interesting Story Mode and complex creation tools. As it is, some people will like this game, but many people will not.

Thank you to Big John Games for providing a copy of Lionel City Builder 3D: Rise of the Rails for review. The game is on the 3DS eshop right now.


  • Excellent use of the touch screen
  • Achievements and unlockables
  • QR Code Sharing for levels
  • Great voice-acting
  • Good audio
  • Game looks better in 3D


  • Muddy graphics
  • Boring Story Mode
  • Frustrating Timed Missions
  • Creation Mode Could Be Better


Article By

blank Daniel Fugate has wanted to be a writer since he was seven years old. He has a bachelor's degree in English and he's a huge Animal Crossing fan. The Wii U and 3DS are currently his favorite video game systems!

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