Image by railsr4me via FlickrTricky Tracks is basically a puzzle where you have to "rotate" the different pieces of tracks to form a route for the train to go. The complication comes in that you may have to perform changes on the track WHILE the train is still moving (on a different part of the track)! What's more, there are also "switches" to play with as you try to manipulate the route of the train by diverting it onto a different track. Add a time limit, multiple levels of success, and you got yourself one tricky puzzler.
You will need to help this railroad company get "back on track", pardon the pun. Apparently the previous construction guy is nuts. He built stuff that aren't connected to each other all over the place! You have limited budget to fix things, and you are working your way across the US, from the US East coast toward the south, then west across the continent, one location at a time.
The trick is the amount of time you have. You have 15-30 seconds before the train starts rolling, and you will need to build it a route toward the objective. For example, in one mission you will need to take the train through the depot to pick up a cargo car, then send that train to the destination station, all in a strict time limit, while making as few moves as possible, as the track crew cost $$$. If the train doesn't get to the destination by the specified time, you fail. If the train ends up on a dead end (i.e. unfinished track) you also fail. If you run out of construction money, you also fail! The objective is to have the maximum amount of money left, yet still accomplish all objectives for that "level" / location.
Based on the amount of money you gained and the money you saved (from not using it for moving tracks), you get gold, silver, or bronze rating for that location.
Either my brain isn't working properly, or the difficulty seems to be very uneven. I got like the first 7-8 missions with gold, then this town I can't get past for X times, then finally got past with a bronze. I don't get it. Would be nice if they would just TELL us what is needed for the different ratings, yes?
The graphics are cartoony, though workable. The train's allowable track has a green highlight that is dynamically updated as you change the route through construction and/or switch changes, so you can see where the train will go. That's a nice touch.
All in all, Tricky Tracks is a fun little number that needs some hints to help the players when they get too frustrated with a specific level to be a true classic. Right now, it seems to induce just as much frustration as entertainment.
Overall rating: 6.5 out of 10
Pros: simple mechanics of play, tough puzzles
Cons: uneven difficulty, 7 or 8 easy ones, then 1 super-tough one
Verdict: if you enjoy puzzles, give this one a try, but be warned that it can be rather frustrating