Game: Thomas & Friends: Magical Tracks
Released: November 2016
Console: Mobile Devices (Reviewed with an iPad 3 and LG V10)
Written by Jason Potter
Magical Tracks is the latest game by Budge Studios, who already has a long list of Thomas and Friends games. Already having numerous other Thomas games, it was only natural for me to pick this one up. The game starts off as Freeware, and has about 20 minutes of game play involved before you need to pay for more trains and track pieces. For the iPad it was a pretty expensive $19.99 buy in to unlock everything the game has to offer versus the nickel and dime to death price of buying things individually. As for the Android, it is only $9.99, however there is a caveat here as you will still get advertisements.
You are informed that it is a customizable game that changes as you unlock pieces of the table and put them down. Unfortunately, it is a bit misleading in their use of the word “customizable” as the pieces have a pre-determined location. Once you collect a piece it flips a T-shaped grey square over to an unlocked piece that is designed to fit. So it is more of an Unlockable Experience, it is too bad, I would have loved it even more if I could change the table about and put pieces where I wanted. These unlocked pieces do not really affect main game play, but some do offer an additional mini-game to play.
You have 2 unlockable menus, the first one shows all the trains you have unlocked (as noted by the lock icon not being on them). Simply touching one of the trains will swap it out for the one you are currently playing with. Each engine has their recognizable train whistle attached and you can hit the pull string on the upper left corner to hear it. The other menu shows you all of the pieces you can unlock as you play through the game. The icon on the bottom of each “page” shows which Train Pack you need to be able to unlock those pieces. You can buy Train Packs individually, but it is much cheap to just buy the full game.
Game play itself is a series of choices: drive to here, play mini-game A, get prize, drive to next destination, repeat. As mentioned earlier, there also mini-games that interrupt destinations as you unlock table pieces, such as move the cows off the track and other similar events. Each mini-game completed will offer a chance to unlock another table pieces and it puts a Gift Box on the table that you are required to run into with your train to place on the table.
It will take a few hours, I believe I was around 3, to get all the pieces on the board and that is where the game kind of ends. You can still do the mini-games for fun, but you are no longer rewarded for them. Understandable that the game is so short, as you would expect a child to play for a little bit and move on. It is just too bad that the stuff is super easy to unlock and be done… but hey, the kids do not seem to mind.
Now with all the cool stuff like a beautiful engine, all our favorite trains, and fun mini-games you would expect this to be a glowing review, but there is a darker side for sure. Bugs, glitches, soft freezes, whatever you wish to call them, the game is riddled with them and no patches or updates since November 20th when 1.1 came out for the iOS. You may feel a bit ripped off as you or your child will come, and they will, to help them because they are stuck. This means constantly restarting the app as this is the only way to fix these issues, which is so sad because it is really well designed. Helpful Tip – Don’t mess around in Reverse for long periods of time as this seems to break a lot of the game.
It really is a fun game, the game is a Freemium title, meaning you can download the 1st Part which includes Thomas and 9 map pieces. It is at your discretion to make the full plunge and both the iOS and Android gameplay is identical (except the use of ads on the Android, but they are not rampant).
Review Note: The reviewer of this title purchased the title at their own expense. This does not affect the content of the review or its final grade.
Bugs, bugs, bugs, and more bugs.
Advertisements on paid version of Android.
Expensive investment on Apple vs Android devices.
OVERALL SCORE: 7/10