Post-holiday GBA post-mortem

Okay, so Doug has me curious about The Two Towers for the GBA, since he’s called it a portable Diablo. C’mon? Really? Is there any flexibility to it? Is it just moving linearly through 100 levels?

And what about this Sea Trader thing from Jaleco? Pirates on a GBA? Anyone know? I note from one of the screenshots that a ship is hauling “Turkish delight”. Hmm, would that be baklava or hashish? The game is rated T for gambling and use of alcohol.


Actually, Turkish Delight is a sort of candy. Didn’t you ever read The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe?

But I agree-that game looks intriguing. And the subtitle (“Rise of Taipan”) reminds me of the ancient but excellent sea trading game, Taipan, that I played back in my Apple IIe days.

I’m thread-jacking. :-)

I bought The Phantasy Star Collection for the GBA this week, and I must say that this game is actually every bit as good as I remember it. :-)

Now, back to your regularly scheduled discussion.

Thank you thank you thank you for telling us about this. I love sailing trader games. I’m going to order this as soon as I get home.

One of my favorite games of all time was the simplistic but awesome High Seas Trader from 1994.

That game was so realistic, by the time I was done playing it I had scurvy and a distended asshole from sailor rape.

Sea Trader doesn’t look like Pirates, it looks like Taipan. Taipan lives on today as DopeWars and SolarWars for the Palm.

Now, a portable Diablo would get me to buy a GBA.

That’s nothing. Nintendo’s PLATFORM OF CHOICE has so many great games. In addition to the ones mentioned-- on the horizon:

Wing Commander Prophecy (in 3D!)

Super Puzzle Fighter II

Recently released:

Colin McRae Rally 2.0 (polygonal cars)

Super Monkey Ball Jr. (in 3D!)

And of course the CinemaWare games like Wings, It Came from the Desert!, Defender of the Crown, Three Stooges, etcetera. And let’s not forget about those “classic” Nintendo SNES ports that Cathcart and Long swoon over.

The GBA kicks ass*.

  • Once you get the Afterburner installed

Yes but Final Fantasy Tactics Advance will be the best of them all!!! Multiple worlds, 40 classes, 300 missions…I will be in heaven for a long while.

My sailor game was Uncharted Waters. I played it all night a few times.

The 100 or so levels are scattered throughout various locales taken from the movies, albeit with quite liberal interpretation.

And let’s not forget Onimusha Tactics!

Sea Trader: Rise of Taipan is basically an updated version of old-school Taipan. They both simplified it and expanded it in its GBA incarnation, though, so there’s some good and bad here.

Gameplay is essentially the same as Taipan, as your goal is to make as much money through trading, smuggling, and ship battles as possible. There are three time limits selectable when you start a game, from a quick 1-year game to an epic 10-year game (no time passes when doing things in port, only when on the sea; a typical jaunt from port-to-port takes about 1-4 days of game time).

You don’t get the classic Taipan “5 guns” vs. “money and debt” start; instead, your father is murdered, and you inherit his ship and crew and pick a first mate from 4 people. Each potential First Mate has a specialty, whether it’s improved cannon-fire, increased ship speed, better deals when trading, or enhanced hull strength and repairs.

There are 6 map regions in the game, each with about 5-6 ports of call. You have to accumulate enough money and prestige to purchase sea charts that free up map regions beyond the initial “South China Sea” area, though. Different regions and ports trade different goods, and you can buy rumors about supplies and demands at Taverns.

Your ship is rated according to its parts. You start with a ship at level 1 in sails, cannons, hull armor, crew training, and cargo hold, and pay to upgrade each part at various Shipyards. Your upgrades are limited by the amount of regions available to you, though; for example, until you buy the sea chart to the North China region, you can’t upgrade beyond level 2 in any ship component. I’m not sure what the maximum component level is, at the moment, but I suspect it’s around level 6 or so.

Oh, aside from the Shipyard, Tavern, Bank, Market, and Warehouse, which are all rather self-explanatory, there’s also a Customs Office in certain ports. Once your reputation has increased enough through profitable trade and victorious combat, you can bribe Customs officials to gain access to the “contraband market” as well as gain access to sea charts (at incredibly expensive cost, though). The contraband market is incredibly profitable once you have enough money to take advantage of it, but of course smuggling these goods usually brings you into conflict with Harbor Guards and Customs Inspectors, although…

Instead of fighting insane armadas of Li Yuen’s Pirates or other random Pirates or Guards, you encounter only 1 ship at a time at sea. You can hail them to try to engage in trade, make sail and flee, or attack with cannon fire and boarding parties. If you successfully defeat an enemy by boarding party, you get to loot the other ship’s cargo hold, which may actually be the best way to start the game off, since you begin with no money and any bank loans generate 15% interest.

Other random encounters at sea can include Sirens that lure your ship off course, storms that damage your ship and blow it off course, Sea Monsters that change your course (I’m not sure if you can fight them eventually, I’ve never had the option), shoals or shallows that damage your hull, or derelict ships or flotsam that give free trade goods or useful information about ports of call.

Overall, the game is easy to pick up if you’ve played a previous incarnation of this type of trading-game, and a fun, albeit repetitive, diversion. I miss the unlimited upgrades of Taipan (1500 cargo hold with 220 cannons, anyone?) as well as the insane battles (my ship versus 840 of Li Yuen’s Pirates), but the bonuses of different First Mates is nice, as well as the larger trading world and the variety in trade goods. Personally, I’ve developed a lucrative contraband-Ivory trade route from Africa to North China, as well as contraband-Gunpowder from Hong Kong in the South China region to Ceylon in the India region. It’s a good game to play for short periods of time, then put down and pick up again a day or two later and play for another short while.

Now that’s the kind of reply I was looking for, balut! Many thanks.

Before I rush out and add to my extensive GBA library, can you offer a word or two about what combat is like? Is it a reflex based affair? Dumb button mashing? Turn-based tactics?


P.S. I still think ‘Turkish delight’ sounds like druggie lingo for primo hashish.

Combat is simple, turn-based, and very easy once you upgrade your cannons and crew. When you encounter another ship, your First Mate will give you any information it can glean, although usually you just see its silhouette from far away. You can choose to: a) wait, b) hail, c) flee, d) fire cannons, or e) close and board.

Typically, you have one turn between spotting range and engagement range. I usually try hailing the first two tries to see if its a trading vessel or guard ship. After the 2nd turn, you’re close enough to identify the other ship (for me, anyway); if it’s a trader, you can hail and trade, or attack it and attempt to board and take their cargo. If the ship is a Harbor Guard or Customs Ship, they’ll ask to board and inspect your ship for contraband - you can let them on and they’ll let you go if you have no contraband, or you can bribe them to look the other way if they find your contraband. If you refuse to let them inspect your ship, you enter combat. If the other ship is a Pirate Ship or Bounty Hunter, you pretty much only have combat as an option.

Once combat is engaged, you can attempt to: a) flee, b) fire cannons, or c) close and board the enemy ship. I don’t flee, ever, so I’m not sure what happens when you try that. When you fire cannons, you’ll see an animation and either damage to the enemy ship, shown by percentage as well as image, or miss. The enemy will then either flee or return fire (I’ve never seen the enemy try to board), and you’ll see an animation as your ship is either hit or missed. When the enemy ship is at about 65% damage or higher, I usually attempt to board and loot their cargo instead of sinking their ship with further cannon fire. Sometimes though, if your cannons are upgraded enough, you can sink the enemy ship before getting a chance to board.

Combat is turn based, but very quickly resolved. Most battles are finished in 2-4 rounds. It’s a good way to get free loot, though, as well as some early contraband items when you’re first starting out and can’t afford them. Unfortunately, you’ll have to build up your reputation enough for Customs Officials to let you bribe them for entrance to the Black Market in order to sell said contraband.

Hope that helped.

Aw, hell, I guess I’m gonna have to get this thing…


Checking ebworld, WC: Prophecy was just released, and Sea Traders: Rise of Taipan is only $9.99. We’re still waiting on Advance Wars 2 and FF Tactics Advance.

As I mentioned in the other thread, WarioWare Mini Micro Friggin Megagame$ is an interesting concept, but falls completely flat where it matters: gameplay.

Any other suggestions for good GBA games?


Don’t listen to wumpus, Wario Ware is pure genius. You just have to be motivated to play it like a puzzle game or to break your high scores, that’s all – if you’re not the type of gamer where a shmup-like score challenge is much impetus to play it might get old. On the other hand, its perfect come back to and very fresh after a break, gets really intense at higher speeds and has tons of variety, more so than your usual “puzzley” game. And despite what some may say, some of the mini-games are similar, but they all have unique twists to them, especially when you try to master them, that set them apart. Its gameplay, does not, in any way, shape or form, fall flat.

As for The Two Towers, its pretty cool. There’s a lot that resembles Diablo, right down to the skill trees which are different for each character you pick. Looting enemies and finding bonuses is similar as well. The interface is a bit of “I’m a licensed game and you can tell” feel to it, but once you get past the menu’s, things are pretty smooth. Its no more repetitive than Diablo, so if you enjoy the Diablo style, that The Two Towers isn’t any greater or worse, if you ask me.

One lovely thing is the Eye of Sauron, each character starts out with different, unique skills and when they use them, the Eye of Sauron opens a bit. If you use to much of your skill too often, it will open completely and Sauron will find you and send a Ringwraith after you. Ringwraiths are like those death things in the old Gauntlet game: you really don’t want to deal with them. I think it went for more than just Frodo’s ring invisibility ability, but I can’t remember.

The characters are nicely distinct to play through the game and I was surprised by just how much the whole experience felt so solid. Also has nice production values (FMV in a GBA game!).

Also, a small correction, despite having many wonderful qualities, Final Fantasy Tactics Advance, does not have multiple worlds. However, if you think that the sequel being confined to the GBA has harmed the game, you are mistaken. If anything, FFTA is even more complex and is definitely a larger, more intricate game than FFT was, more balanced too, though not ultimately as challenging. Don’t pass it by if you were dismayed to hear that the FFT sequel wasn’t coming to a console.

Soon to be released is Mega Man Battle Network 3 (known in Japan as the ultrapopular Rockman.exe). If you haven’t played any of these games yet, I really, really recommend you pick it up. It isn’t your standard Rockman platformer game, its an RPGish meld that is really delightful and different from the norm. You fight enemies on a realtime 3 by 8 grid and use “chips” to enhance your net navi (Rockman)'s powers. The dispersion and strategies of using chips is similar to collectible card games I imagine, so if you’re a fan of that sort of gameplay, these games offer the best you can get on the GBA. They really are outstanding. If you haven’t played any of them, then the third is a great place to start: like usual, there hasn’t too much messing with the formula in the series and the second game was a great upgrade and fleshing out of the concepts of the first. The third is even better, so you’re in good stead. With great, deep, refreshing play and all sorts of neat net-related gameplay elements (like BBSes you can get quests from and viruses that you must eliminate in virtual systems) its the best original series on the GBA in my opinion.

Also to reiterate, Castlevania: Aria of Sorrow is a superb entry into the series, even if you didn’t like the past two, there’s a good chance this third will change your mind.

Last but not least, I’d say to look out for CIMA: The Enemy, its the first game that developer Neverland will release in seven years. Their last game was Lufia II. Have you ever played Lufia II? Then you know why this is something to look forwad to, :wink: after banking out of development of Lufia III for the PSX, Neverland took their concepts that they would use for that game (its an action RPG, so it wouldn’t work for Lufia, so they’ve been told) and put them in CIMA. And finally, after years of development, its coming out. While usually such a tortured development time would mean trouble, Lufia II was supposed to come out in 1994 and eventually made it in 1997, and look how that turned out! Anyway, the game has the same really exceptional puzzle design (the developers are focusing on this) but now with a really neat new system where you control one character, but you pick and choose from a large list of allies and assign them various commands to help you solve puzzles and beat enemies. You’re also responsible for making sure they never die. Neverland has spent an inordinate amount of time tweaking so that this balance doesn’t grow annoying so you curse your AI companions. Its like Pikmin meets Secret of Mana and its coming later in the year, I say its something to look forward to!

And FIRE EMBLEM! Woo! You guys are getting the goods! :P


Don’t worry about the double post. It’s worth it for the first half of the opening sentence alone. :)

Net navi? I think I have another Japanese language question! The fairy in Ocarina of Time was called Navi and I was thinking “gee how witty, the navigational fairy is called Navi…” So is navi actually a Japanese word?

I wouldn’t recommed Sea Trader: Rise of the Taipan.

It’s pretty shallow.

Just wanted to highlight this so it doesn’t get lost in Kitsune’s thesis paper ;) I’m no Castlevania expert, but Aria of Sorrow is my favorite game in the series. The music and graphics–both great for a GBA game–are not on par with Symphony of the Night, but the soul collection stuff is the best magic system in a CV game. I prefer this over the card system and it’s far superior to the old “you can only carry one of these three or four items at a time” nonsense. Man I hate that about the older games.

Anyway, Aria of Sorrow rocks. It out-Metroids Metroid Fusion (shock and awe!), so if you have even a little bit of interest in an action/exploration game with light RPG elements I recommend it without hesitation.