Train Simulator Games with Realistic Cab Views

These programs have been produced by a fairly simple technique: stand and the front of the train and film the view, then write a program to move through this view using an electronic cab. Whilst the idea is simple, it has been slow to catch on in the non-Japanese speaking world, whilst proliferating in Japan. The aim of this page is to allow the non-Japanese viewer to at least 'look at the pictures' and appreciate what they are missing out on.

Please note that as these programs are written for Japanese markets they generally require Japanese operating systems. However some have been tested and work (with limitations) under English versions of operating systems. If you have tried one of these programs under an English operating system please let me know so the information can be included.

Train simulator

The one that started this all off in 1995. All volumes of this game are available for Macintosh as well as Windows. Ongakukan however have lately been producing games for PlayStation 2 rather than PC. Their website (which uses frames) has a list of the Train Simulator series. These games are still readily available but have not been discounted. Expect to pay full retail (5800¥) or near for a game. I have seen (and purchased) a steeply discounted controller from the now defunct AsoBitCity in Akihabara.

The Yamamote line volume does work under English Windows 95. The only limitation is the training mode requires Mview or some other software that can display Japanese fonts. The rest of the game works without problems. If you have any friends who have ridden the Yamamote line much it will bring back memories for them! (The Yamamote line is the JR line that circles Tokyo's central area).

The Hanshin line takes you from Hanshin Umeda (Osaka's main railway terminus) to Kobe. It allows you to choose local, rapid, or express. It's extensive use of colour light signals means you need to stay awake and watch out for speed restrictions. This one works under English Windows 95 without restriction.

The Nagoya railroad volume has two private lines near Nagoya. These are in rural areas with some winding track. Watch out for speed restrictions around sharp corners. It also includes a monorail (only 2 minutes of track) to drive. This is quite fun as it has almost zero momentum compared to train and can go very fast! This volume also works under English Windows 95 without restriction.

The JR Hokkaido volume has one long drive in rural Hokkaido. However in the middle another train is coupled to yours and the momentum increases to make the driving difficult. This volume also works under English Windows 95 without restriction. The name of the next station to stop up flashes up in Japanese and needs Mview to be seen properly, but it can be worked around by simply viewing the timetable to the right of the screen.

All of the games that tested so far under Windows 95 require Direct X version 5 and Intel Indeo to be installed. Do this in English first and then insert the game CD to play.

The instruction books are quite detailed and assume adult reading level of Japanese AND a good knowledge of modern railway practice and signalling.

Train Simulator Plus

This is the successor to the Train Simulator series. This has a much larger cab display by using a higher degree of compression. This means that now a Pentium II at least is required to run the games. The signals now appear on screen and are essentially painted on top of the video. Ongakukan have released some of their older simulations such as the Chuo Line in this new format.

Train Simulator Real

These are the more recent efforts of Ongakukan and run on a PlayStation 2. The graphics are impressive. Short videos of the game are available from their website.

Real Railway

A shareware simulator with 'lite' versions available for download. The trains are harder to drive than those in Train Simulator but give you a feel for what the commercial software is like.

Please note that with this simulator you must install the 16 bit (Windows 3.1) version of Quicktime to make it go. (You do not need to uninstall your normal 32 bit Quicktime, just install this one as well and it will go).

To drive the Keio line drag the mouse over the master control (combined throttle and brake).


Numerous authors have now released programs. These includes Hankyu Railways and JR West.

Arcade Games with Computer Generated Cab Views

These games use computer generated graphics for the view out the window. This does give the advantage of allowing longer and infinitely variable tracks.

Densha de Go, Densha de Go 2, Densha de Go Professional, Densha de Go 3000, Densha de Go Shinkansen

These all started out as arcade games from Taito. This game is extremely popular in Japan, in fact that its so popular that there are pop songs about it and a drink named after it. In Taito's site there is a historical section on arcade games with posters which include pictures of the machine and some screen shots. If you have trouble navigating in Japanese then this is the way to Densha de go II and the 1997 original Densha de go.

Densha de Go on Playstation is hugely popular in Japan (and elsewhere). There are two English language sites that cover the material well

Have a look at Taito's site to see the whole lineup for Playstation 1 and 2 as well as Dreamcast, Wonderswan and Ketai(mobile phone). As well as the original train games there is also a Densha de Go Ryojo where you drive a tram on the road with traffic!

I was working on a translation of the Instruction booklet with a view for producing a "Japanese for Densha de Go players" page so that with the instruction booklet (Japanese) and this page you can figure out the instructions, but with some simple katakana knowledge, you should be able to work it out.

Originally, it appeared these would never be available for Personal Computers. However Unbalance have ported most of the Densha de go series to PC. Despite the early Playstation games having disappeared from shop shelves years ago, the PC versions cover the whole series and are readily available. These are subject to discounting, with many being part of the "Demolition Sale" series, and priced at on 1480 yen. These games will install with varying degrees of difficulty on English Windows. Please contact me for precise details if you have trouble.

Boso View Express

An excellent freeware simulation. Has an open architecture that allows you to produce your own routes. Numbers of Japanese and non-Japanese Routes are available for download.

Microsoft Train Simulator

Commercial program now released and available in English with Japanese routes (Odakyu Line).

Other Driving Software

D Sim is a small freeware simulation which gives a side on view of the train. It's not very realistic but is fun to play.

LCD Games

These little games are fun and cheap but lack the realism that the above games offer. However they are very portable. Taito has produced two. Densha de Go 2 and Densha de Po. Densha de Go 2 is playable without the instructions after a bit of experimentation but reading the instructions (in easy to read Japanese with Furigana so even a beginning Japanese student can figure them out) does help. Densha de Po is more expensive and includes a pedometer.

Buying Japanese Computer Games

This is quite straightforward in Japan. If your outside Japan you'll need to either buy from an importer (in Australia - Japanese Model Train Supplies, In the UK - AnotherWorld) or get a friend to buy them in Japan for you. Given that you can give your friend a printout from the relevant web page then you will get the right thing. Games are packaged not bigger than a video cassette and make ideal souvenirs!

Computer games are readily available, places that might be convenient for your friend include:

The LCD games are more difficult to find. Toys'R'Us in Kawagoe has them but there must be somewhere more convenient.

Japanese Railway Resources

These pages are all in Japanese.

Railway Multimedia Software page

Has links to other games, commercial and freeware. Also includes pictures and sounds from all over Japan.

RailSim Link

A comprehensive listing of Japanese train simulators by the author of a shareware simulator

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Revised 3 Mar 2005