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Review: Tradewinds 2
by Nathan Mylott on Monday, Nov 22, 2010

Tradewinds 2 menu screen

A?straware's newest release for webOS, an old PC classic Tradewinds 2, has a depth not found on a lot of mobile games, although it is not the prettiest presentation.

The game sets you in the Caribbean at the start of the 18th century. You are a merchant traveler sailing between the islands to make money and battling pirate ships in between. You can outfit your ship with a few different weapon types and as you progress, you will be able to buy better ships. Each time you sail to a different port, time passes. You will be able to see the date as you travel around and that will have an effect on the game sometimes.

Read on for the full review!

 

In each port is the marketplace for trading goods, an alehouse and the governor's mansion. Some of them also have a bank for storing your excess gold to earn interest, a money lender for taking out high interest loans, a shipyard for repairing and outfitting your ship and buying new ones, and in your home port is a storehouse you can use to store goods.

The primary action of playing the game is trade. You buy goods in one port to sell at another for a profit. The prices fluctuate as the market changes so you either have to take notes on the prices in each port, have a great memory, or sell to the first one that offers a profit. The price will be highlighted in blue if it is a profit but that does not mean it is the best price you are going to get. There are also certain times of the year that prices are particularly low or high at a certain port, so you can maximize profits. The storehouse is useful to buy goods low and save them for when the price goes up.

Talking to the bartenders in the alehouses will reveal tips like when prices are especially high, and you will get more info as you become more famous, or if you buy everyone a round of drinks. There is also a trader there that sells power ups.

You can do errands for the governors, which involve more sailing between the islands or hunting down and defeating pirates. The missions are mostly text based but the text in these missions and in the alehouses is often quite funny and entertaining in itself. There are occasionally missions to do for others around town and sometimes you can pick up crew members that give you a special benefit.

The battles at sea are a fun part of the game. However, they are almost impossible to lose, they are so Tradewinds 2 battle scene easy. As long as you have enough money to stock up on weapons and repair your ship between battles, which you usually will, then you cannot lose. The only way to lose is to run into pirates on the way to a hostile port, in which case you would be doing two battles in a row. Even then, if you keep a large stock of specialty ammo and use a lot of it, you can often get out of those situations too. There are a lot of battles, and it starts to feel excessive at times.

The game's graphics hearkens back to a bygone era of video games. Teenagers probably will not remember a time when games looked like this. It is cartoony, basic, and there is not a lot of animation. The buildings in every port look pretty much the same as they do in all the other ports, and the landscapes are only slightly different. As with the missions, most of your interaction with the game is text based. The battles at sea are the only animated sequences, in which case there is a steady stream of canon balls volleying back and forth and ships sinking.

The sounds of the game are pretty terrible. They must be the original sound effects from the first PC version of the game. They sound like they are coming out of the speaker on an action figure or a toy police car. The external speaker on the Pre is not exactly a boom box but it can play better sound than this puts out. The sound of the ocean is a little bit like white noise on an analog tv with no antenna. There is a noise that plays every time you go into an alehouse that is unidentifiable. It sounds like a psychotic chicken but what would a chicken be doing in a bar? The music is a bit more tolerable but I ended up turning it off fairly quickly. Plugging in headphones really does not help the quality of the sound very much either. I just turned the volume down low whenever I played the game. The sounds get annoying rather quickly otherwise.

The graphics of yesteryear and the ear splitting soundtrack were not enough to deter me from playing the game however. The funny text and the mercantilism and the cannon battles just kept me coming back. The historical aspect of it appeals to the history geek in me. It can get repetitive, but I have not gotten bored of it yet. It may not be something I will play endlessly for months and months, but it is a great adventure game to pick up in parcels of free time. Just be thankful for the tasks menu that reminds you of what you were working on when you left off.
 

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