Thomas the Tank Engine & Friends is an educational rail sim featuring the eponymous anthropomorphic train engine. The player must help Thomas the Tank Engine complete various tasks such as taking children to the seaside, bringing medicine to the hospital and delivering the mail. Dead ends, level crossings, other trains and vehicles create obstacles to overcome.
The game was released on the Sega Genesis and the Super Nintendo. An NES port of the SNES game was planned, but cancelled late into development.
Sega Genesis version
The Sega Genesis release of Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends is different from the rest. This game puts the player in the role of the engineer, and the player may choose an engine. After the player selects one, a Mario Paint-based game shows up, and the player can color the engine and the engineer, but the only one that will have a direct effect on graphics in the game is the engineer. There is no difference with the engines; all have the same statistics.
There are three modes to use: Race, Game, and Explore. Race puts the player in a competition against another engine. The player must collect sweets and balloons, but avoid mud, red balloons, and engines. After the player wins enough games, Sir Topham Hatt (a.k.a. The Fat Controller) gives the player a medal.
The mode "Game" features Sir Topham Hatt giving instructions to the player. He asks for cars to be brought to a certain station in a certain order, but they must get there quickly. If the job takes too long, Sir Topham Hatt will scold the player. If the assigned job is done speedily, Sir Topham Hatt will praise the player. Eventually, the player will earn a medal.
The mode "Explore" simply is letting the player look around the entire map of Sodor. The mode is just like the other two, only there are no jobs.
Unlike all the other releases, this game does not have The Railway Series stories.
Unreleased NES Game
In 2008, many unreleased NES prototypes were found, and one of them was a NES version of the SNES game Thomas the Tank Engine and Friends. The game is identical to the SNES game, but with no voice acting and lower quality graphics.