Lionel Trains Presents Trans-Con! is the first historical simulation game to take kids on an adventure to complete the Transcontinental Railroad. It features realistic 3D models of classic Lionel Trains and aims to extensively cover national and state curriculum standards in geography, history, social studies, and science for grades 3-6.
This program allows kids to participate in the construction of the railroad that opened up the west a very significant historical event. It is 1863 in the USA, and players must lead a team of 10,000 men on a dangerous mission. Players choose either CP and start in Sacramento, California, and race to Utah, or UP and work from Omaha to Utah. Victory means recovering the famous Golden Spike that has been stolen by a mastermind.
There are 3 basic missions building the railroads, saving the railroad from sabotage, and capturing the outlaws. Players construct the railroad step by step which involves surveying the terrain, facing mountains, and crossing rivers, valleys, and deserts on their way to the Golden Spike. For example, if they start in Sacramento, the first portion of the adventure involves connecting Sacramento and Colfax by laying tracks. They are given a budget of $800,000, straight and curved track, and an option to backstep. Different problems arise along the way, and important decisions must be made! Some workers are leaving for the gold mines should they get more workers from China, pay the workers more, or simply work harder? The decision to bring in more workers brings about a strike that costs $15,000. Players decide what kind of bridges to construct (and of course the sturdier bridges are the most expensive) and must weigh the pros and cons in order to make up their minds. Going bankrupt means starting over again, so planning ahead will be of utmost importance! Facts about the Sacramento River are given.
Saving the railroad from sabotage involves sending a member of the Dream Team (Wild Bill Hickok, Calamity Jane, or Tomahawk Beckwourth). Players store the objects they collect in their Inventory, refer to their journal for important information, and get written instructions to aid them.
Outwitting a gang of real-life outlaws involves collecting clues, and capturing then interrogating them. Sarah is in charge of unravelling this mystery and capturing the outlaws. Players help her by choosing the questions they want her to ask them. The questions are categorized into Polite, Tough as Nails, and totally Loco.
Players have a "train of thought" journal that keeps track of money issues and ranking.
As kids progress through the adventure, game play becomes more challenging and involved. At any time, kids can choose to learn more about a particular situation by pressing a Reality Check button. Historical photos and period music are incorporated into the game, making the simulation all the more authentic.
Kid testers were totally absorbed in this adventure bordering on obsessed. They happily took on the challenge of this simulation, and learned a tremendous amount of information and skills along the way.