Home of the Underdogs
About News FAQs Contact HOTU GoogleGroup Music Manuals
Category Applications Action Adventure Education Interactive Fiction Puzzle Role Playing Games Simulation Special Sport Strategy War

Support the EFF
Welcome How you can help
Browse Games
Welcome Random Pick
Welcome By Company
  Welcome By Theme  
Welcome By Alphabet
Welcome By Year
Welcome Title Search
Welcome Company Search
Welcome Designer Search
Welcome Freeware Titles
Welcome Collections
Welcome Discord
Welcome Twitter
Welcome Facebook
Welcome File Format Guide
Welcome Help: Non PC Games
Welcome Help: Win Games
Welcome Help: DOS Games
Welcome Recommended Links
Site History Site History
Legacy Legacy
Link to Us Link to Us
Credits Thanks & Credits
Abandonware Ring

Abandoned Places


Creative Commons License

Game #5192
Hall of Belated Fame Inductee  Spice Trade    View all Top Dogs in this genre
Strategy   Business

Rating: 7.16 (25 votes)

Spice Trade box cover

Spice Trade screenshot
Spice Trade is a very interesting historical business game where your perspective is rather unique as far as computer games go: an Arab merchant living in the 14th century, when Europeans were starting their "great voyages of exploration" across the continents. Your character is named Abu Al-Qazzaz, a poor young man from Baghdad who has inherited a house and some land. Having decided to try your luck in spice trade to garner a living, you also have to start a family, expand your business, and ultimately prevent the European powers from dominating not only the spice trade, but also the whole Arabic economy and culture. At the same time, your gradual success will help Arab countries spread their economic and cultural influences in Europe.

The gameplay is turn-based, similar to Holistic Design's venerable The Merchant Prince. As a merchant, most of your time will be spent on buying and selling spices in bazaars all over the world. What sets Spice Trade apart from the likes Merchant Prince is that the authors managed to successfully integrate the rich, unique, and captivating elements of Arab culture into the game. For example, similar to Europa 1400, it is very important to get married and have children so you can ensure successors. But as an Iraqi, you can have multiple wives (probably this is the only game that shows you the "wives counter" in-game), and as a devout Muslim you cannot neglect praying (typically by using the praying carpet in a hermit's cave) and building shrines once you have sufficient wealth.

Spice Trade is more similar to Europa 1400 than The Merchant Prince: the game is more of a "life simulation" than a historical business game. There is a plot, which unravels as you play (usually via a storyteller who appears from time to time). You can also talk to many characters to get jobs, find items in the graves of the god kings, and receive "quest items" by talking to special people. You can also get poisoned, hire shady characters in the port area, and get fatigued if you go without resting at home for more than one or two days.

The game's underlying economic model is not as realistic or flexible as the ones in Frog City's Trade Empires or The Merchant Prince: for example, prices and demand remain high for a long time even after you flood the market with some spice. Still, it is not so unrealistic as to be annoying. There is always business to conduct, characters to talk to, and interesting political/economic events to keep track of. Last but not least, the game's graphics (which mimic Arabian murals of yore) does a great job of evoking 14th century Arabian cities. If you like business games in exotic settings, or adventure games with a strong strategy bent, Spice Trade is well worth your time. The authors' success of making the game true to the Arab mythos more than makes up for the sub-par economic model. Highly recommended to everyone but those who demand the toughest strategy games.

Reviewed by: Underdogs
Designer: Juha Holopainen
Developer: Freeware
Publisher: Freeware
Year: 2005
Software Copyright: Juha Holopainen
Theme: Oriental, Historical
None that we know of
System Requirements: Java 2 Runtime Library
Where to get it:
Related Links: Official site
If you like this game, try: Machiavelli The Prince, Marco Polo, Europa 1400 Gold

© 1998 - 2024 Home of the Underdogs
Portions are copyrighted by their respective owners. All rights reserved. Please read our privacy policy.