The second car-themed game I’m taking a look at this week – following Car Mechanic Manager, and also by Ultimate Games – is Car Trader.

In stark contrast to Car Mechanic Manager – which has an abundance of menus, items and tasks to wrap your head around (not to mention the very poorly implemented control scheme) – Car Trader is a game probably best described as minimalist.

Players start with money in the bank that’s used to buy cars in various states of disrepair from auctions, in which you’ll be trying to outbid a number of AI opponents. There’s a starting price, an icon to tell you how damaged the car is (which gives you an idea of how much it’ll cost to fix up when you try to sell it on for a profit, also at an auction) and a set of stock photos – actual photos of cars in often poor condition, but which don’t always correspond with the damage value given.

Beyond those indicators, within the game itself there’s not really any sense of what the car should be worth, however – it seems to me that the AI just randomly bids until it reaches an arbitrary value, at which point it stops.

Once you’ve won a car, you can get it repaired at further cost, choosing from a list of garages that will add a certain percentage of repair to the car, depending on which level of repair you’re looking for. There’s no need to get the car to 100%; the important thing here is balancing the cost of the car and the outlay to get it repaired in order to maximise your profit when you sell it on.

As far as I can tell so far – that’s it. I can’t tell if I’m trying to work towards a certain level of funds or if there’s any sort of endgame; it just seems to be pretty much mindlessly pressing a button during auction, followed by a quick repair of the purchased vehicle and then another auction to sell it (which of course, isn’t one you’re involved in yourself, so it’s just watching the AI bid on your vehicle).

As you can probably see from the screenshots, the game has a very basic look; it’s functional and nothing more. It’s not just the cars that you get photos of; there are also hilariously awkward photos of the AI opponents, with such a narrow selection of photos available that they repeat with different names between auctions.

It’s a cheap game – and it has a slightly crazy charm about it, with the weird stock photos of cars and bidders – but not as cheap as you’d expect for a game that’s so incredibly light on audiovisual embellishments. There’s a certain satisfaction to winning a bidding war, but there’s very little here to keep your interest for long.

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