In late 1992, two trading simulations were competing for the (German / European) market: Der Patrizier (also know as The Patrician abroad) and. The latter came a little later (wow...) and it was generally considered the loser in this direct duel by the press. Only by a small margin, though - a very good second place.
Shortly thereafter, the game sailed into my home. It needed 1MB RAM which my Amiga wasn't equipped with at that time, but just a few more days later, I was finally able try myself at making a fortune in the historic period of imperialism. Ok, first steps: buy a used ship, hire a crew, buy some cheap goods, sail to another port of the world and sell the stuff there for (hopefully) more money. Sounds easy enough. Half an hour later, I was broke and the game was over.
Ok, he was younger then, and it was his first try, you're thinking. Problem is, every single try went like this. Including the one right before writing this review. Because the game is just too damn hard. Impossibly hard.
What you basically get is pretty standard fare: Each port has cheap surplus goods as well as the ones they need and will pay high sums for. Everything else, they'll still buy, but only for very low prices. Problem is, the profit margins are so small in almost all cases that they're hardly enough to pay for the crew and keeping the ship in one piece.
Special 'missions' promise to come to the rescue. London is in desperate need for tea? Sail to China or India and get back before the goods get stale. Odessa is under siege? Deliver weapons and get rich. Or have your only ship fall into the hands of the military which was blocking the port.
So, the normal trading routes aren't profitable enough and the special ones are risky or take a very long time. Not a big chance for success (blatant understatment).
All that is very sad, because not everything about the game is bad. The graphics are excellent. All the locations of each port are shown in Adventure style, accompanied by fitting multiple choice menus. A very nice touch.
The same can't be said about the rest of the controls, unfortunately. On the world map, where you control your ships and enter ports, the required clicking procedures are totally unintuitive. Right-clicking on the ship, left-clicking on the port.... whatever?
With the economic model being pretty much impossible to master, it's very unfortunate thatconcentrates fully on it. There's no other sideline the player can concentrate on, like the poltical branch in or Die Fugger 2. So the player is doomed to fail on the trading, with no distration of a more interesting nature.
Question: What made the professional reviewers give out such good ratings in 1992? Status: Unresolved.