16-bit Trader Review—Fun for Accountants


Buy low and sell high. While this is considered an obvious business principle, the idea has spawned a whole video game genre, the trading game. The first such game that comes to my mind is the classic Elite, where you played a starship captain, buying and selling goods at different planets. But the idea quickly spread to other games, usually in an earthly setting, where you sailed or drove a caravan from place to place.

16-bit Trader from NCME has you controlling a caravan of wagons in a fictional land. You start off with one wagon and a handful of money, and have a goal of making 1,000,000 gold by buying goods and selling them in other towns. There are 10 or so different items to buy, and probably a good 50 different cities to travel to.

Towns are very pretty, if only slightly animated.

Towns are very pretty, if only slightly animated.

Everything is controlled by the touchscreen, and most of the game has you at a town menu. You simply tap a place in town to visit: the marketplace to buy and sell goods, the bar to hire teamsters and pick up quests, the exchange to buy more wagons. Then when you are done in that town, tap the map and move on to the next town.

On the way to the next town, an event will happen. Usually it’s bad, like having to pay a toll, or getting robbed by bandits, or just getting delayed. If you are lucky, you just get an event saying nothing happened. Sometimes you can also get quests in towns, which basically consist of you traveling someplace.

The world map is pretty snazzy-looking, too.

The world map is pretty snazzy-looking, too.

The art is all 2D, mostly static screens, but once in a while there is some animation in the background. Really nice-looking art. The music is also quite nice.

I believe it’s a port from some other platform, presumably iOS. For the most part it seems like a solid port, but the menu for the marketplace requires some moving of text up and down to see all the trade goods. Yet they should all be able to fit on the screen, so perhaps it was meant for a system with a screen not so wide?

All the trade goods could fit on the screen, but they don't.

All the trade goods could fit on the screen, but they don't.

16-bit Trader does a good job of the trading aspect, but I’m not sure it’s a strong enough element to stand on its own. Usually it’s a background mechanic for action games, like Elite, Pirates!, or Autoduel.  It’s not bad, just kind of boring with there being nothing but trading. What good is virtual money if you can’t buy something cool with it?

The other real problem is that unless you have a great memory, you need to take notes about the prices in each town. That’s not so easy to do on a portable, since you probably have no way to take notes. Well, maybe if you have a tablet with a note-taking app running, but on the Vita you are out of luck.


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3 Responses to “16-bit Trader Review—Fun for Accountants”
  1. Freelance says:

    Nice review. I was thinking of getting it at one point but never did.

    You didn’t mention the story though, and I believe should be worth mentioning for it involves you getting revenge on the evil men that murdered your father by…becoming the wealthiest trader ever. I am sorry, but the storyline makes absolutely no sense to me.

  2. AxelMill98 says:

    I’m still trying to understand why this game is called “16-BIT Trader”. Really, nothing in this game look like a SNES or a Genesis thing.

  3. JeremyR says:

    I didn’t mention the storyline because there really isn’t anything to it. It’s just something that is a few screens at the start of the game.

    And I think they call it that because the color scheme is sort of like the KOEI SNES games. Uncharted Trader

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