Toca Train is the new digital toy from the developers at Toca Boca which allows children to play with a train set, hauling cargo as well as transporting passengers.
Two basic points of view are included, allowing children to experience this toy from both the conductor’s eyes as well as a variety of perspectives from outside the train.
From inside the train, children will take on the role of conductor, controlling the train’s speed with which nicely corresponds to the changing of gears. Do explore this car, discovering the fun interactive details such as a horn to pull as well as the map of the tracks and even a cup of tea one can sip - a detail utterly Toca Boca that made me smile. It would be nice, however, if the map would show the train's current location as one moves along the tracks.
It is quite engaging how one can stop the train to pick up cargo and passengers as a flashing light will notify one that a stop can be made, found left of the gears controlling the train’s speed and strategically placed where one can bring the train to a stop, making this interaction very intuitive to use.
Choosing to stop to make a pickup will allow children to choose from different types of cargo with the use of an interactive crane complete with hints for how to make it work smoothly as well as picking up passengers, arranging where they sit on the train or leave and making room for new passengers. It is also fun to see how the different people are styled, all unique to themselves and including subtle body movements that bring them to life in a way that I enjoy.
The views from the front and side windows of this train are impressive, showing off the immersive land created including a blue sky with clouds, green grass, buildings, trees and the train tracks ahead, as well as the view as one goes under bridges or through tunnels. It is a special treat to be able to move with a finger the perspective around this train car, allowing players to look outside the window on the side and the front, as well as tipping the view slightly up and down. It would be a nice touch, however, if one could see the view of this car a full 360 degrees, being able to look behind where the conductor would sit and possibly to see the view from a back window. Even without this detail, the illustrations, here in 3D, are realistic enough to make me a little dizzy - a compliment to be sure.
With the tap of a button, the view can be changed to appear as though one is outside the train watching it move along these tracks. Swiveling and the pinch and zoom of fingers can change the perspective as well as the distance one is from the train in order to create a player's own personal vantage point to a great effect. I do wish that one could also zoom out fully to see the entire track at once as the unique design of train tracks as a whole has always interested me.
Although I have developed a great deal in my affection for this app, I did at first have to remind myself that this app is Toca Train, not Toca Train Table as I do miss the opportunity to move the tracks to my own liking - a choice that I respect as this is simply not the app Toca Boca set out to design.
I also had concerns that Toca Train was not as social as their other apps like Toca Tea Party or Toca Store, but after overhearing the conversations my son and husband have when playing with this app together, I can see that this app can be as social as players choose, discussing the seating arrangements and travel schedules of the passengers and the hauling of the cargo.
The world created within Toca Train is a beautiful one, with many details both natural and architectural. Players are bound to find something new each time they play - even a small detail that adds to the richness of these landscapes. This, combined with the soothing yet upbeat music, makes this a lovely choice for an app for relaxing and at bedtime and an easy recommendation for all ages.