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Written by  :  Xa4 (311)
Written on  :  Feb 26, 2010
Platform  :  Windows
Rating  :  1.6 Stars1.6 Stars1.6 Stars1.6 Stars1.6 Stars

3 out of 3 people found this review helpful

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If you think casual = boring, this won't change your mind

The Good

One of the things I love about Mobygames is the "Random Game" link. I have decided to regularly play any game I stumble upon by following it. Tradewinds is my first "adventure in random gaming".

The prospect was appealing because, in theory, Tradewinds is based on a great concept. A casual trading game that sounds a bit like "Elite", but with less options, so as not to be overwhelming. Oh, and it does not take place in outer space, but in the Far East.

On paper, several great concepts share the spotlight : the game has pirates, legendary cities, the possibility to have a career devoted to trade or pirate hunting...

The Bad

I won't be nitpicking about graphics and sound, because the gameplay is so bad that anything else is simply not worth mentioning.

Two design decisions share the dubious honor of being the worst features of a game where very little thought have obviously been poured in.

The first is the economic model. It could not be described in a simpler way: random ! Totally, completely, exclusively random! The price of goods is supposed to swing more widely in certain places than in others, but I failed to notice it. There is no indication whatsoever of where a commodity can be bought low or sold high. No blatant indication, no subtle hint, just pure randomness.

The second is the lack of options. There is a grand total of five cities to trade in. You read that right, five cities. If this doesn't sound ridiculous enough, what about this: you only get to trade four kinds of goods, whose only difference is their price range. Well, to be honest one of the goods is contraband, but you almost never get caught so that doesn't make any significant difference.

Just in the extremely unlikely case those two major flaws do not convince you to avoid the game, let me throw in some extra ones : * Combat is based on the most bland system one can devise * The rhythm is very repetitive : visit a city, set sail, make an encounter, fight enemy ships, arrive in city of destination. Rinse and repeat ad nauseum. *¨There is no storyline whatsoever. * No decent tutorial * There is only one viable strategy. Pirate hunting is not a career to be pursued, it simply does not earn one enough money. Therefore, fighting becomes a necessary nuisance instead of an exciting part of the adventure.

The Bottom Line

As a first experience in random gaming, this was a big disappointment. That the game could be the first of a whole series is a great mystery. In the end, Tradewinds turns out to be an unexciting, and even failed, trading game. Despite its current low price tag ($5), I could not really recommend it to anyone, no matter how low their standard for gaming is. A lot of people who consider themselves gamers turn a suspicious eye on any game tagged as "casual". This one will certainly not help change their mind.