Taipan! for the iPhone is a faithful port of the classic trading game. While the user interface has been customized for a handset's form factor, every effort has been made to reproduce the game balance of the 1982 Apple ][ release. In particular, all the incidental events that affected and colored the gameplay of the original have been retained.
The basic objective of Taipan! is to earn enough money (1,000,000) to retire. The secondary objective is to earn as high a score as possible; your score is determined by your net worth, and how much time it has taken you to accumulate it. If you want to earn the highest rank in the game (Ma Tsu), you'll need to trade, fight, and save far more than a paltry 1,000,000. Finally, if you just like to see how far you can push things, you can try to get "all" the money.
The Apple ][ version of Taipan! glitched when asked to display sums above 999 Trillion. If you can get that much money (and you can!), our version will simply tell you that you've got "All of It". So, if you feel like a challenge ...
The essence of Taipan! is trading: you sail from port to port, buying and selling goods. If you're fortunate, you may happen across unusually low or unusually high prices; a collapse in a high-priced good can let you stock up (if you have the storage capacity), while a price spike can net you a large windfall (if you have the right goods on hand). Such prices never last, however; you must be prepared to act immediately!
The most profitable good to trade is Opium. Unfortunately, the local customs authorities take a dim view of traffic in this illicit commodity, and outside of Hong Kong you run the risk of both losing your cargo and paying a hefty fine if you're caught with it.
You can store goods in your Hong Kong warehouse. They are usually safe there, although there have been some reports of thievery.
Your ship is the heart of your business. Its hold determines how much cargo you can carry from place to place, and its guns allow you to defend yourself on the seas. Throughout the game you will have the opportunity to purchase larger ships, and to purchase additional guns. Be aware, however, that each gun occupies 10 units of cargo space: If you build a gunship, you will not be able carry much merchandise!
Larger ships can absorb more damage from pirates; unfortunately, they also tend to attract larger numbers of pirates. A damaged ship can be repaired in Hong Kong, although not at inconsiderable cost.
The high seas are not safe. They present the natural threat of storms, and they are patrolled by a variety of brigands: independent privateers as well as the pirate fleet of Li Yuen.
When attacked by pirates, you face a basic choice: Try to fight them off, or bravely run away. (To better make your escape, you can also throw your cargo overboard.) Although combat carries its dangers, if you are victorious, then you can plunder the wrecks of your enemies.
Li Yuen is not an implacable enemy; if you are in his good graces, he may even assist you by driving off other pirates. Of course, if you have offended him, he can be very dangerous indeed ...
Getting money is only half the problem; you also have to hold on to it. In Hong Kong you have the option to deposit your money in the bank, where it will be safe from cutthroats and thieves, and where it will even earn modest interest.
You can also borrow money from Elder Brother Wu, although his interest charges are rather high. It would be unwise to neglect your debt to Elder Brother Wu.
Taipan! automatically saves all your games, so you needn't worry about losing progress if interrupted by some non-gaming aspect of your life. Plus, the save-game screen lets you check your score while a game is in play; that's something the original never let you do!
Taipan! is offered on a "freemium" basis: download and play as many games as you like, with the provision that each game is limited to 1 year of game time. If you're enjoying yourself, you can unlock the full game for a modest fee.
You should download it right now.