The Game: A train scoots around a twisty maze of tiles representing overpasses, turns, straightaways and terminals. One portion of the maze is blank, and a train will be lost if it hits that blank tile. Using the joystick, you move the blank tile and one adjacent tile around on the map – even if the train is in transit on that tile – in an effort to keep it moving around the maze, picking up passengers. (Passengers that the train can reach are smiley faces; passengers cut off from the main route are frowning.) If any passengers are cut off for an extended period of time, a monster begins wandering that route, and it’ll cost you a train if it comes in contact with your train. You may have to outrun it with the “speed” button in order to pick up the last passengers and clear the level to move on to a bigger maze. (Centuri (under license from Konami), 1982)
Memories: A very minor star in the constellation of early Konami coin-ops (Konami also being responsible for Frogger, Time Pilot and Gyruss), Loco Motion is actually a variation on a very old theme: the 2-D sliding tile puzzle.
That puzzle involves a board with several sliding tiles, and one gap where a tile should be. To solve the puzzle, the tiles must be slid around the board until they form a picture. In Loco Motion, there’s no picture and no one solution; sometimes you’ve got to keep moving the tile that actually has the train on it in order to avert disaster. The speed button is a double-edged sword too; if you use it too little, monsters will take shape in isolated portions of the track where passengers are waiitng. Use it too fast, however, and your train may move faster that your brain’s ability to keep it out of harm’s way.
Mattel licensed Loco Motion for its own Intellivision console, the only machine which had a home version of the game. However, in the NES era, Loco Motion re-emerged in a completely different form; Pipe Dreams involved an almost identical sliding-tile-maze play mechanic, but replaced the trains with drains: you were now trying to direct slime off the playing field without letting it spill. Pipe Dreams itself was later resurrected on the Playstation, and so in a strange (and rather liquidy) way, Loco Motion lives on.