Tradewinds 2 will likely surprise a lot of traditional gamers. While they flocked to transcendent PC gaming experiences like Counter-Strike or Starcraft, many gems like the original Tradewinds didn’t get the universal love they deserved. Luckily, low pricing on the App Store has created an inviting environment for consumers to experiment with genres unknown and unheralded.
Positioned as a ‘trading and strategy’ game, Tradewinds 2 is set in a sixteenth century Caribbean setting. This game mixes a variety of considerations, like buying and selling goods for profit, executing tasks (missions) for politicians, battling pirates, discovering new territories, and getting as much ‘booty’ as possible.
Initially, you select one of five character options you’ll embody on your adventure throughout the game. Each of them have different stories and motivations, and we were pleasantly surprised to see that each of them has a unique campaign, which adds to the replay value.
For the uninitiated, we imagine it’ll take some time getting your head wrapped around the flow of Tradewinds 2. In Story Mode, you begin in the Caribbean port of Great Cayman to the tune of some horrible background music you’ll want disable promptly. You’ll see a decent-looking 2D hand-drawn town (and hub) that has some incidental animations to simulate an active city.
We’ve sold this town the whole lot of our gaudy house paint.
Tapping on different buildings opens up businesses that specialize in various services. Depending on your mood, you can borrow money from a credit union, buy drinks for everyone at a bar, buy goods at a market, or visit the governor for tasks to earn gold. Fortunately, the user interface for jumping around activities is smooth, leveraging foolproof menus and onscreen buttons.
Great Cayman is one of ten ports to visit through the game, and each city features a slightly different layout of selectable businesses. Whereas one port may have an exclusive credit union, another may have a shop to purchase new ships. With a little time and exploration, you’ll memorize the unique aspects of each port in no time. When you’re in a port, there’s a dashboard of administrative functions to keep track of items bought, tasks accepted, cargo aboard your ship and other status indicators. The menus flow well enough, and digesting the necessary information is easy.
Governors are the key to advancing throughout the story mode in Tradewinds 2. After playing through the game for hours, the structure feels reminiscent of the progression you’d see in a Grand Theft Auto title. After you do a certain amount of tasks for a Governor at a particular port, options open up to do tasks for Governors at different ports for more gold.
Pirates and tiki magic: a deadly combination
Getting around from port to port is handled with an RPG-style overworld view. Tapping on a port moves your ship, but sometimes you’ll be interrupted by pirates, triggering a combat minigame. There’s nothing ‘ShamWow!’ about the combat mechanics, as a simple tap on a pirate ship fires off your cannons. Special weapons bought in town are deployed by tapping an onscreen icon. We would have preferred to see a more skill-based combat system, but you won’t mind these diversions, and you earn good money after each battle.
As a great bonus, there is another gameplay mode called Free Trade Mode. While you’ll primarily be grinding through the story and unlocking ports in the main mode, Free Trade Mode is all about accumulating wealth and stature. All ten ports are unlocked from the get-go, and this mode theoretically can go on forever. We preferred the tighter Story Mode, but this is a legitimate extra.
For folks that dislike tons of menus and reading, this isn’t your game, partly because of a poor choice in font that makes reading harder than it should be. Conversely, if witty and clever storytelling strikes your fancy, you’ll be tickled pink. The functions that rely on mechanics and control conventions are executed well, but it’s not mind-blowing gameplay that kept our attention. It was the humorous and, at times, crude storyline that kept us coming back for more. Sign us up for Tradewinds 3!