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In the game of Pirates and Traders for your Android phone, it's fun to choose your own adventure. The exciting strategy-based RPG lets you decide whether you want to be a kind-natured, peaceful trader or a sleazy, violent pirate. Pirates and Traders is a bit involved, however, which means it's not accessible to everyone.
Before you begin playing, you have to make a few decisions. What will your trader/pirate be named? (Be creative!) What's his/her nationality (British, Dutch, French or Spanish)? How do the character's gun-slinging, sailing, fencing and street smarts (water smarts?) measure up? What kind of ship do you sail around in? Which level of difficulty are you most comfortable with?
There's also an option for you to select how often you'd like your game to be saved.
Many gamers might find this game intimidating at first launch. After I tapped that "Raise Anchor!" button to get the game started, I was suddenly looking at a huge map of the Caribbean, five buttons and I had no idea what any of it did or how it worked.
Pirates and Traders doesn't seem to come with any beginner-friendly guidebook or tutorial on how to play. The game has a manual, but I didn't find it to be much help. It was like I opened a World of Warcraft or Dungeons and Dragons rule book and started reading from the middle — everything felt overly specific and advanced, stuff that would be more helpful later in the game, but did nothing to help at the beginning.
When I was really lost, though, I discovered that the game's help menu did a pretty good job of explaining what I was looking at, what it meant in the grand scheme of things, and what my gameplay options were. I found that the best way to learn the ropes was just to goof around with the app until things started to make sense.
The game feels a lot like a board game — the experience actually reminded me a bit of the classic game of Risk. What's really great about Pirates and Traders, though, is that gamers get to make all of the decisions about what to do and the kind of person you'd ultimately like to be. You'll come upon other people and other ships out there — the way you choose to behave is up to you.
Pirates and Traders doesn't have a professional-looking design, but the game seems to work without too many issues. The only problem I encountered was that the game froze once or twice, and I had to force quit and relaunch.
It looks like the developer is continuing to develop this game. If you thoroughly enjoy this one, there's a premium, ad-free, gold version available for just over $5.00.