The title screen.Space Trader
) is a freeware game for Palm OS devices. It is compatible with Palm OS 2.0 and highernote
. The game was initially released in 2002, with its most recent version being released in December 2005. It has since been ported to the Pocket PC, a native Windows program, and iOS and Android (the latter being retitled ''Dark Nova''
), as well as a more vanilla Android port
as of July 2014.
The game is based off of the fairly-popular Elite
and Solar Warsnote
. Space Trader
itself became quite popular as far as freeware Palm OS games went, and it is commonly cited as one of the OS's best.
The game itself focuses on buying and selling goods between multiple planet-like "systems", with the ultimate goal of eventually purchasing a moon and retiring there. The player can choose to be a perfectly benign trader (perhaps bounty hunting on the side), or walk the path of piracy and plunder less capable traders (or somewhere in between) while dealing with the police.
The developer (Pieter Spronck) was writing a sequel at one point, called Picoverse
, but unfortunately it has fallen off the map.
Tropes present in Space Trader
- A Winner Is You: Your reward for claiming the moon is a nifty little picture before being ushered to the scoreboard.
- All There in the Manual: The backstory of how the player's trading quest got started.
- Anarchy Is Chaos: Planets under Anarchy have a very high concentration of Space Pirates.
- Attack! Attack... Retreat! Retreat!: Frequently occurs for the player if they try to take out a target, only to find that the target gets a lucky streak of hits.
- Boring but Practical: Trading back and forth between two fairly quiet systems (low pirates and/or police), steadily gaining profits.
- Antigrinding: Systems take time to replenish goods, so doing this may result in suddenly running out of goods to trade at those systems, forcing the player to either wait or move on to another area.
- Bounty Hunter: One way to earn money is to kill pirates.
- Cheat Code: Has a few, which can be entered in the Galactic Chart's Find System box. The developer revealed them - with a cipher.
- Continuing Is Painful: If your ship gets destroyed and you have an escape pod, you (and your crew members, but they get sent home) will survive, but all of your cargo is lost and you're stuck with the most basic of the ship models. If you don't have many credits left, you're practically screwed.
- Cool Starship: The more-expensive ship models boast impressive stats.
- Curb-Stomp Battle: What happens when a powerful ship meets a weaker ship, and the weaker has no luck in fleeing. Has the potential to happen within the first few days of the game.
- Drugs Are Bad: Trading Narcotics can be very profitable, but good luck if the police catch you.
- Dynamic Difficulty: Generally speaking, ships and equipment owned by pirates scales based on the player's current credit total.
- Explosive Breeder: Tribbles, should they get their fur on any of the player's food.
- Final Death: You can't reload your save if your character dies. Averted in the Windows port, however.
- Flat Character: Pretty much all the NPCs are simply there to give you something to do.
- Guide Dang It: Averted, more or less. The game includes a *very* extensive built-in help system, with text for virtually every dialog box that can appear.
- Immortal Life Is Cheap: In planets that run a Cybernetic State, the local Transhuman Aliens are all backed up on hard disk and death means no more than the loss of a ship, so both pirates and police come in huge swarms.
- Infinity+1 Sword: The player can earn an unbuyable weapon through one of the quests.
- Jack of All Stats: One possible way to set up the player character.
- Luck-Based Mission: A few of the quests can end up this way, especially if the player needs to reach a specific system within a limited time frame; the system maps are randomly generated. And then there's the Amazing Stat Tonic ...
- Nintendo Hard: Particularly for newer players.
- One Nation Under Copyright: Corporate worlds. Always corrupt, so the police are bribable.
- Random Encounters: With traders, police, and pirates, mainly.
- Randomly Drops: On occasion, a destroyed pirate or trader ship may leave behind some cargo, which the player may pick up.
- Schmuck Bait: You may encounter an abandoned ship during your travels. According to salvage law, you are free to take the cargo inside - including Narcotics, which can sell for a lot. Trouble is, the whole thing is an elaborate trap for catching criminally-inclined traders — if you take the narcotics out of the ship, the police will be waiting.
- Space Pirates: A major enemy. Also, the player can be one (though it's not very profitable unless you have the right gear to avoid blowing up your targets).
- Shout-Out: To Elite, Solar Wars, and Star Trek. The gameplay, as mentioned earlier, is even based off the former two.
- Timed Mission: The aforementioned "get to a specific system within X days" quests.
- Villain with Good Publicity: The player can be this, if he has a clean criminal record, a cloaking device, and smuggles drugs while remaining above suspicion by the police.