Ocean Trader/Pioneer Trail (Quicksilva) Review | ZX Computing - Everygamegoing

ZX Computing

Ocean Trader/Pioneer Trail
By Quicksilva
Sinclair ZX81

Published in ZX Computing #8

Ocean Trader/Pioneer Trail

Ocean Trader is a role playing adventure game set in the nineteenth century in which as captain and owner of a 130 ton sailing barque, your aim is to make a profit of £0.5 million and retire. To do this, you by and sell coal, whisky and other cargos, sailing from port to port looking for a good price for them. Hazards abound and during the voyages you will encounter pirates, severe storms and overzealous insurance agents, to name a few.

You make money by virtue of the varying prices in each of the five ports, but it is a slow and frustrating process just breaking even - never mind that elusive £500,000 profit you are after. You can lose half a valuable cargo in a severe storm, and if you cannot meet your insurance bills your ship can be impounded!

Your home port is Swansea. A finance company here will loan you money if you require (you certainly will!) but beware, interest increases by 12.5% each time you sail from port and there is a limit of £25,000.

The game is in two parts. The first comprises comprehensive on-screen instructions; the main game is loaded separately. This format enables the full 16K to be used for the game itself, but does have the penalty of extended loading times. The graphics accompanying the on-screen instructions are particularly impressive.

Ocean Trader is a well thought out and enjoyable game. You will need to be a quick-witted trader, and have luck on your side, to earn a rick retirement.

Pioneer Trail is set in 1847 when your family joins the trail to Oregon. You have 40 weeks to travel the 2,000 miles.

Your assets consist of two tired old horses and $700 to spend on supplies; not a very auspicious beginning. You test your rifles before embarking on the trail, this is done by typing the changing letter or number on a moving target. You will need to be a good, and lucky, shot if you are to overcome the dangers of the trek.

From then on you move along the trail towards your destination. You have the opportunity to stock up at forts along the way (finances permitting), and hunt for food. Dangers are encountered frequently and include hostile travellers, outlaws, rattlesnakes, severe weather and more. You can select one of 20 levels of play from beginner to experienced pioneer.

Limited use is made of graphics during the game. Instructions are displayed on-screen at the start.

The incorporation of an interactive element can add a touch of excitement to adventures, but I must admit that I found 'shooting' the target on Pioneer Trail rather uninspiring; success appeared to depend more on chance than reaction time or skill. Nevertheless, an entertaining game.

Ocean Trader and Pioneer Trail cost £3.95 each from Quicksilva, Palmerston Park House, 13 Palmerston Road, Southampton SO1 1LL.

Nick Pearce

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