Space Trader: Moon Madness is a trading game by HermitWorks. $0.99
Many of you would not have heard of this game. Basically Space Trader: MM is one of those Dope Wars/Stock market games in a full 3D environment. You may have downloaded Prohibition 3: Candy Wars when it went on the sale price of ‘free’. That game involved travelling around buying candy and selling it at other places for a profit. Space Trader takes this concept to another level adding in three whole environments to explore with something around every corner. Space Trader: Moon Madness is a shorter version of the PC game by HermitWorks called Space Trader: Merchant Marine.
Space Trader: MM is a very addictive game. The game is designed for short play and to have alot of replayability, which it has. It has been designed so it is simple enough to whip out while waiting for a bus or something similar and basically play through the whole game. For those who want to have a longer experience then the exploration part of the 3D environments will add a longer play time to Space Trader. While I found it to be the best game of its genre, it leaves me wanting more than what it has. There are only three areas to travel to and one game mode, I believe there could me more implemented from Space Trader: Merchant Marine in future versions.
As said above, there is only one game mode to play. The objective of Space Trader: MM is to make $300,000 in the amount of time given. Once that mark is reached then the aim is to beat your current high score. You are given 131 days to make this money by the form of buying low and selling high. You begin the game on the moon and a Greeterbot asks you if you have any questions about the game, if not you say so and carry on. You then have to either walk around the space station finding floating objects, with abandoned commodities inside them or to find contacts, or you can take the quick option and choose a contact out of your list on the menu bar. You start off with about three contacts in each space station but as your worth improves, more people will want to trade items with you.
When you get to a contact you are shown a list of items they have to buy. The list shows the item, the price it has recently gone up or down, the percent in change, the current price and a star will be next to it if it is a good deal. Don’t always trust the stars as sometimes there are great deals that aren’t labelled as such. You can start to work out a strategy once you start playing, but each time you play the prices and fluctuations are randomly generated, so each time is unique. After you have made your purchases you then must travel to either the space station in between the Earth and the Moon or Earth itself. Each of these have a different travel time, generally ranging from 7 to about 25 days. Once you have landed on your new station you are free to roam around looking for new ‘hidden’ people such as bartenders that give you information for a price and more abandoned commodities or to go directly to your contacts to sell your items and buy some more.
One variation on gameplay is the Mechanic. He is available at every space station and can be used at any time in two ways which may make or break your game. For $25,000 he can put turbo boosters on your ship so travelling time is shortened. This is good in the long run as it can give you that one extra trip. Doing this at the right time once got me from 500k to 950k. The other option the mechanic provides is to upgrade your Cargo Hold by buying this one item off him. Holding these means you can have more commodities than the 75 maximum you start with.
The game runs like this for the whole time basically, hopefully making your way to a large sum at the end of your trip. Some of the game is based on luck, with the randomly generated item prices but a strategy can help. I tend to buy the dearest thing I can afford 75 of that has gone down in price, so it is basically guaranteed a price rise after travelling. This doesn’t always work as I can go from a round where I am ranked Grand Trader then the next turn I end up being a Bum Trader. There are also supposedly secret missions to complete, but I have yet to discover them.
The controls are not the best. When selecting something to trade or an option when talking to someone, you must first click on the item and then press select. This is alright as it means you don’t make mistakes but can get on your nerves a bit. The only other controls you really need in this game are for walking around the various space stations. I find this terribly set up and needs to be thought out more for the iPhone platform. First of all there are two squares on the screen, you move your fingers in the same direction until you find that you are moving the desired way and not looking up at the ceiling. I find it hard to get where you want to do and would rather the accelerometer or even a D-pad to control you movements. It is very frustrating and needs to be improved in the next update. These controls stop me spending time to look at the view, as they have put alot of effort into their graphics, why waste them?
The 3D world is very well done for a $0.99 game. There is alot of detail and it is bright and defined. While some of the furniture and people are a bit pixelatted around the edges after being ported onto the smaller screen, there are no problems with it. This looks like it could be some type of adventure/rpg game rather than a simple trading game. This is where Space Trader stands out from the rest, and so it should.
Being a space themed game with human traders, I expected some cool out of this world music and the traders talking. I was severely disappointed when I found out that there is basically no sound at all in this game. You get a very basic sound effect when pressing buttons, a cash register sound when buying and selling trades and that’s it. I would have liked to see some effort made in the sound department, but sadly there is none.
This is a great game, and a well welcomed change from the boring text trading games we have seen on the App Store. I love how Space Trader has incorporated the explorable environments into a game based around trading. The unique gameplay that you get everytime keeps you coming back for me, and that high score is always very tempting to try and beat. It has a high replay value, but after a while don’t expect to be playing it too much with only one game mode. With some options to change the time limit, required limit and more space stations, this would be a great game. I would also like to see an online leaderboard to see who the best traders are in the whole galaxy. For those out there who enjoy these type of games, throw out all your other ones and buy this immediately. There is no need to have another trading game, this is a outer space experience you all should have.
I would recommend this game if you enjoyed- Prohibition 3: Candy Wars
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