Sometimes A Game Just Needs The Right Platform

Asking whether a game is coming to the Switch is basically a meme at this point. But for some times, the spirit of the question rings true: some games are truly best when they find their true home.

The game in question isn't one of the bigger names this month, like Anthem or Metro Exodus. It's Star Traders: Frontiers, a space trader RPG that launched on Steam towards the end of last year. It's since launched on Android and iOS for $10.99, almost half the price of the Steam version.

The game is functionally the same as Steam version, except the mobile port comes with all the 132 content updates and patches released since launch. The main difference is that you'll be using your fingers to navigate through the world map, rather than clicking, dragging and scrolling the mousewheel to zoom in and out.

Star Traders: Frontiers Is Charming But Convoluted

I still remember searching the Google Play store with a HTC Desire HD. I wanted something I could sink my teeth into that wasn't Fruit Ninja or some Bejeweled knock off. And as it so happened, I came across a little space trading RPG from a developer called Cory Trese.

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Some of the UI elements are a little fiddly on a phone, although for a game that's relatively text heavy everything is pretty readable on a standard-size screen. (I've been using an LG G7 to test the game, a phone small enough to use with one hand.)

But why it works so much better for mobile is that, fundamentally, Frontiers is still very much a game you chip away at. There's a wealth of ships and talents you can't start with until you've completed a bunch of objectives at a certain difficulty. There's a ton of information to wrangle in the beginning - what do you want your captain to be, how do you want to primarily make money, how much do you want to get involved in trade wars, managing the talents and skills of your crew, and handling the information barrage that comes with all of that.

It's a game that's great for quick sessions on the toilet, basically. You sit down, make a few hyperjumps, blockade a planet or two, pray you don't run into any Xenos (Frontiers' alien race, complete with the hyper-aggressive attitude of Wing Commander's Kilrathi) and maybe earn some reputation with a few contacts.

But it works perfectly offline (something I've missed sorely of late). It's the kind of layered, chunky RPG that's almost the antithesis of what people expect from a mobile RPG. It's the kind of mobile game that the Trese Brothers have basically been making for decades.

The screen space, funnily enough, makes some of Traders' worst aspects a little more manageable. When playing on a 27" 4K screen, the crew management screen would be filled with tons of portraits of all of my officers and crew. Mobile phones don't have the same amount of space, so the crew screen can only display two officers at any given time, but you can scroll through or use filters for sorting. Which you'll need - your starting ship has a maximum of 24 crew, which is almost maxed out when you start the game, and future ships have room for more quarters.

Unsurprisingly, Frontiers is still the kind of space trader where third party guides are pretty necessary when starting out. (Here's 100 very handy tips put together by fans.) But that's part of the charm. It's a lot like an oldschool PC space trader in that regard, except it's now available in a form that fits in your hand for the cost of a cheap burger. That's a pretty good deal.


Comments

    It's a game that's great for quick sessions on the toilet, basically. You sit down, make a few hyperjumps, blockade a planet or two, pray you don't run into any Xenos (Frontiers' alien race, complete with the hyper-aggressive attitude of Wing Commander's Kilrathi) and maybe earn some reputation with a few contacts.Sounds like my typical toilet visit too though I generally hope for less blockades and more effortless passages through hyperspace.

      thank you for the laugh.

    Thought this was Spore for a second based on the image. Which actually would be kinda great on Switch.

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