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Tradewinds is a video game by Sandlot Games, in which the player is a merchant, buying and trading goods and sailing to various cities to trade goods as well as combating encountered pirates. It is very similar to the game Taipan! that was available for the Apple and TRS-80 in the 1980s.
At the start of the game, the player is given a choice between four playable characters. Each character has his or her own unique advantages and disadvantages. For instance, one particular character starts off with a warehouse and a small fleet of junks, while another character starts off with the largest ship available in the game, fully equipped with cannons, but without any cash. The player cannot switch characters midway through the game.
Once a character is chosen, the player has only one objective: to attain the rank of Tai Pan. To do this, the player will need to attain one billion points through trading goods and collecting bounties on pirates mentioned to him/her by town port authorities.
Along the way, the player will encounter pirates who will attempt to sink his/her fleet. The player can choose to fight them off, flee, or dispose of all cargo (which makes fleeing easier). If the player wins the battle, a certain amount of cash, recovered from the enemy, is awarded to the player. If the player loses the battle, then the game ends but can be resumed at the port at which the player last called. In fact, the player may only save the game at a port; he or she is not allowed to save during a battle.
The player also has the option of repairing or buying ships at shipyards scattered throughout the Tradewinds world, as well as to purchase or sell cannons or ammunition. As the game progresses, the player will be given the opportunity to purchase larger, stronger ships that can hold more cannons and cargo.
There are banks and depositors in the game at various ports for the player to deposit excess cash. Banks offer high interest rates, so a good method of obtaining more cash is to deposit as much money as possible.