Digital Dexterity
J. Plunkett
1984
Board Game
£6.50
English
ZX Spectrum 48K
Undetermined

52,53
Chris Bourne

Star Trade is an intergalactic version of Monopoly with a few variations. They don't actually say that due to the kind of complications witch Automata have suffered, but they do say it is played very like Monopoly. It allows between one and nine players to take part but the computer will always muscle in on the game as well under the disguise of the name The Trader.

The Instructions are on side B of the tape, which might prove to be irritating, except that the playing side is very well prompted and the available options shown all the way through. The board has many recognisable features like GO, Jail and Chance cards. Jail is referred to as the Space Remand Block, and the 'safe' corner is called Dock. The board is not at all traditional and includes a zig zag section which allows all the requisite spaces to fit in without having to make all the property squares too small. Each property is some Intergalactic body like Phobos, lo, Pluto or Ceres, and they are worth varying amounts depending on which property group they fall in. Players owning complete groups may build cities on them and increase the rentable value. All that's missing is the Community Chest, otherwise it follows the usual Monopoly rules.

The dice is thrown automatically by the computer at the start of each player's turn. A 'Press any key' prompt clears the screen to-tell you what property you have landed on, whether it's for sale, and if so, for how much. If it's already owned by another player, the rent is autodocked from you. If it isn't, then the option menu allows you to purchase, bid for it (if already owned), build a city on it, view the title deeds (of all properties), check how much money every player has left, continue the game or abort it.

Whenever it is The Trader's turn, the screen, normally in red with yellow detail, changes to blue with black detail. There is a 90 minute playing time allowed before the money totals are totted up and the winner announced.

CRITICISM

'The currency used is the Zegnon, but of course you never handle any, so it's as toy town as any other! The on-screen prompts make playing the game very easy and quite flexible, although one thing surprised me. When you opt to buy a property (press key 1) and enter it, there is a fall safe which pops up to ask you if you as sure (Y or N), but if you press key 7 (abort game) the game is killed off instantly. With up to nine players taking part I would have thought it was very easy to press key 7 by mistake. It would have been safer if they had provided a fail safe there too.'

'I feel that the graphics and colour could have been put to better use to illustrate who owned what. The property groups are identified by symbols like squares, circles, triangles etc., and due to the necessary crowding of written detail on the playing board, it can cause some eyestrain trying to see where everything is. The game is fairly good though.'

'The program is done so that everything happens very quickly with only the individual player holding up proceedings, and it is a very user-friendly game. But it seems a pity that they couldn't have used more colour, the result is a little drab looking, which is a shame because it is fun to play. It's addictivity obviously depends on how much you like playing games like Monopoly. If you do, then this will make a refreshing change from The Old Kent Road. The Trader (computer) must have been programmed by J.R. - It plays a pretty mean game.'

COMMENTS
Control keys: numerics by on-screen prompt
Colour: poor
Graphics: all text in a generated face, reasonable
Sound: entry beeps and some effects to indicate an event
Features: 1 - 9 players
General Rating: Above average.

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Screenshot Text

The Trader - a mean opponent in galactic wrangling.