The Game: The coast of 19th century China could be a dangerous place – pirates lay in wait for passing (and relatively defenseless) ships, and that’s just the obvious danger. The buyer’s and seller’s markets in dry goods, weapons, silk and opium could pose just as much of a hazard to an independent trader’s finances. And then there’s Li Yuen’s protection racket… (Avalanche Productions [designed by Art Canfil], 1982)
Memories: One of the first trading strategy games I ever encountered, Taipan! has been a favorite of mine for something like 20 years. When I played it as just one of many games in an all-day weekend screen grab-o-rama, I found myself playing the thing for hours.
Though a lot of this game is down to random number generation, leaving you at the whims of the numbers, it’s still easy to stretch a single game out to several hours with some good luck and the wind at your back. It’s also worth noting that it’s almost an all-text game – the only graphics that come into play are the pirate ships in the battle sequences. Sound effects are at a minimum. And yet this game is compelling and absolutely – almost dangerously – addictive.
They don’t make ’em like this anymore.