British and American games usually keep their names when they're released in Germany - even if it's a translated version. That's good, makes international conversations about them easier. German companies on the other hand sometimes take really silly measures to increase their chance on the international market. Not that it has ever worked, but giving up would be silly, too. One of the effects is that German games have English names - even here. If you can't see anything strange about that, you're probably from the USA. What would you think if a game by an 'American' company would carry a title in Suaheli? To take it one step further: what would you think if a game by a German company was released in your country carrying a German title?
Insinuating a negative answer, that is exactly the ignorance which leads to such a mess as with this game. It couldn't have been released as Die Siedler (the original name) internationally. The direct translation is The Settlers. Alright, acceptable. I've also seen the same game listed as Serf City on some sites - presumably the title in the USA. Extremely annoying for an international (and even bilingual) site! Especially since it's all so unnecessary.
It isn't surprising that Die Siedler (I will continue calling it by its original name) received both critical acclaim and popularity with the customers in most parts of the world. It does deal with the most typically 'German' topic of all: business. Business disguised with a pretty facade though.
On an empty landscape, you have to build up a small 'kingdom'. The first step is to build a castle which serves as a storehouse. With the goods you have initially (depending on the mission/scenario), you can construct a few more buildings then.
The buildings can be split into three types: those which extract raw materials directly from the land (e.g. lumberjacks, mines), those which refine these raw materials to usable goods (e.g. sawmill, smithy) and those for military.
The latter are used to stretch the borders of your country further and of course to protect the other buildings. Protection is needed because there are other 'kings' and their people as well. In the end, military victory is required, but it's only a minor aspect of the actual gameplay.
What you're actually occupied with is building up a working economy. Understanding the interconnections and 'production lines' is important: to produce weapons, your smithes need coal and iron. To produce iron, you need iron ore and coal. Both these can be obtained from mines. The miners demand food to work. Food can be either bread (farm - mill - bakery) or meat (farm - pig farm - slaughterhouse). If you could follow this example, you understood the whole game.
Unlike in most similar games, you not only have to care about the existence of the crucial buildings, but also of their connection. You build roads on which little sprites carry goods from one building to the other. If your roads are built ineffectively (too long, too steep), you'll run into problems, because your factories won't run.
Die Siedler is a very untypically 'German' game in the aspect of the presentation. There are the usual dull statistics and boring menus, but they only exist well hidden and completely seperated from the main window. A bit of this was of course necessary to give the game its deepness.
The military aspect of the game is fortunately very small and unimportant. Its outcome seems like only a direct consequence of the economic performance. If it was for me, it could have been scrapped completely. How this would have looked then? No idea, it's not my job to design games - I'm only critisizing them To me, this is a business game which has nothing to do with war - one of the best ever.Technical notes: This game makes heavy use of the overscanning capabilities of the Amiga. That means it uses parts of the PAL screen which are out of the normal 320x256 limits. When you're running the game with an emulator, choose the resolution accordingly. On a real Amiga, you shouldn't have this problem of course.