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What A Strange Idea

June 30th, 2010 by Troy Goodfellow · 6 Comments · Design

While looking through the Steam sales over the last few days, I noticed a game I had never heard of – The Great Art Race. It was bundled with two games I *had* heard of (Patrician 3 and Darkstar One) and I can’t say that the bundle made a lot of thematic sense. A reliable PR guy noted my curious Twitter about The Great Art Race and was good enough to add the bundle to my Gamersgate Media Account. (Thanks, Joe!)

The Great Art Race is strange. You are an heir to a dying millionaire. Only his greatest treasure, his art collection, has been stolen. You and your fellow heirs are told to compete for recovering the collection by going through the auction houses of the world and buying back the stolen art.

Why haven’t the police been called in? No idea. Yeah, the game is set in 1918, but I do think that if you could demonstrate you owned the missing art that you could probably stop its sale on the auction blocks of the planet.

Stranger still is how you get enough money to buy back the art. There is a stock market subgame. You buy and sell shares based on…well, still not quite sure what determines which stocks go up and down. Buy low, sell high, watch the news. It’s not a very sophisticated stock market game.

Then there is the plantation management part. You take your starting funds and invest in growing cash crops in tropical climes, hiring workers, avoiding labor unrest and selling your coffee or cotton or sugar or silk.

The less said about the expeditions you can take in some parts of the world, the better.

And why is this a race? Because you and your rival heirs have to make a lot of money before Uncle Moneybags dies. Your travel is marked in days and hours, with a soundtrack that is a bit like an interwar Mad, Mad, Mad, Mad World thing.

So it is an auction-stock-trading-time management game.

Still much too soon to know what I think about it, but I can see why I’ve never heard of it. It is, according to Mobygames, a remake of an old C64/Amiga game called Vermeer which had a very similar design.

Has anyone out there played Vermeer? Or The Great Art Race? Am I alone in finding this very peculiar?


6 Comments so far ↓

  • Punning Pundit

    This could be either awesome, or awful– depending on how well the mechanics tie in together.

    I don’t know why, but from your description, I’m reminded of the board game “Puerto Rico”

  • Hudson

    I always wondered about Darkstar One

  • Pyjamarama

    I never heard of any of then but if you want a really odd strategy game concept Lula: The Sexy Empire is the game for you.(http://www.mobygames.com/game/windows/lula-the-sexy-empire)
    were you have to manage a porn movie studio a chain of sex shops. Only Germans would think of making an erotic strategy game.

  • edosan

    It’s funny — I also noticed this game in the bundle a couple of days ago and thought it looked odd. Reading the description reminded me of the Chocolatier games.

  • In the penance day

    What did you think of the Capitalism games? Sounds somewhat similar in concept.

  • VRBones

    Tossed up betwen that pack (mainly for a reminisce on patrician 3) and the introversion one (more reminiscing in uplink, and multiwinia that I’ve always meant to get). Settled on the introversion one and have really enjoyed uplink again.