Train Kit

App review by
Patricia Montic..., Common Sense Media
Train Kit App Poster Image
Virtual trains take a spin through a 3D world you design.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this app.

Educational Value

Though not created with educational intent, there's great potential to get creative and hone problem-solving skills, as kids can build tracks to solve their own design challenges: How can you get a train to cross a body of water? How can you create two tracks that overlap without having two trains collide?

Ease of Play

Big arrows point the way for kids to get started, and it's pretty simple to discover all the things you can do. Still, it would be nice if kids could access that information later on, and it would be even better if kids could save more than one map.

Violence & Scariness
Sexy Stuff
Language
Consumerism
Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Train Kit is a virtual model train kit that will appeal to a relatively wide age range. Kids can drag and drop trains, tracks, and objects on a grid to build a scene and then set their trains rolling. Kids tap a video-camera button to launch the app's standout feature: a train's-eye view that winds around the environment you've just created. Though two trains can bump into and push each other, they can't really crash. Read the app's clear privacy policy to find out about the types of information collected and shared.

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What's it about?

When kids open TRAIN KIT, they'll see a gray grid where they can place items from three menus featuring roads (including bridges and tunnels), trains (in blue, yellow, and orange), and objects (including buildings, trees, and windmills). Kids can drag and drop items from the three menus onto the grid to make their own landscape, and they can drop items off the grid's edge into the water to delete them. Once you place each train on-screen, a color-coded controller appears to let you stop, start, and reverse the train that matches the controller's color. You can also hit the video-camera button to get a train's-eye view of your landscape and see what it looks like to travel around the tracks.

Is it any good?

This simulation game is part Minecraft, part virtual reality, and all fun, despite its minor limitations. Creating your landscape and setting your trains in motion is consistently absorbing and lets parents and kids work together to problem-solve to make their trains go as far and fast as possible. It's especially fun to get your train moving and tap the video-camera button, which gives you a rider's view as the train moves along your creation.

One downside is that if you place your trees or windmills too close to the tracks, your trains may knock them over or push them along. Also, since you can't rotate objects, if you'd like the road to bend to the left, you have to select the particular shape you need. It's also too bad that you can't save multiple landscapes for later use and that there aren't human characters to play with, but aside from these minor complaints, Train Kit does a nice job of providing the fun of a traditional train set and adds the cool on-screen feature of being able to virtually ride the train, so for families without the space or funds for elaborate setups, this app has a lot to offer. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about how Train Kit compares to a real-life toy train set. What are the main differences? Pros and cons of each? If you have a train set, work together to make a complicated track arrangement.

  • If your kids love trains, seek out books about trains for them to explore. If possible, take them to see a real train up close.

  • Work on some maze puzzles with pencil and paper together. For an extra challenge, ask your kid to design a maze for you to solve.

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