Merchant Prince II

10_1TalonSoft and Holistic missed a bet by not providing a better update to the 1995 classic Merchant Prince. They were right to leave the basics alone, but they could have met today’s production standards and still retained the original game’s feel. Sure, the buy low and sell high trade system is fun, and the political machinations back home in theVenice that it finances are dastardly clever, but fans might—or should—expect something more than a six year old DOS to Windows port with a few extras.

The only notable graphics upgrades are the Venice screen, the confusing icons on the movement screen, and the new scenario maps. Aside from that, the game looks, well, six years old. For a game that retails on the high end of the budget spectrum ($30), Holistic could have put a bit more effort into updating the visuals. A few clanks, trumpet blasts and battles cries wouldn’t have hurt either.

Holistic did add two major features to play: scenarios and the tech tree. Scenario maps include the Hanseatic League, Marco Polo’s travels, a detailed depiction of the Mediterranean, the Far East, and Atlantis. The locales yield some changes but play pretty much the same. When skullduggery beckons, you go back to the Venetian screen, gondolas and all. The tech tree serves up 31 different items in four categories. Tech research slows down play a bit too much, however — you can’t help but feel a bit disappointed when you discover that the best part of the new tech tree feature is that you can turn it off.

In the design notes, Holistic explains that the original Merchant Prince only needed to be converted to Windows. Maybe thirty bucks is but a small price to pay for a re-release with the thinnest coat of new shellac. Or maybe not.

System Requirements: Pentium 90 Mhz, 32 MB RAM, Win95

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