For quite some time I have been wanting to write a small piece about one of my favorite casual simulators from the late ’80s. While I do remembering it being a well known and a beloved game in Europe, I’m not sure how it fared outside.
Ports of Call had from my perspective, being a young boy at the time, a lot of things making it interesting. It was a social happening in my circles, 4 players could sit down at the same screen and have fun – it was very much like playing a tabletop game, with all the social interactivity. It featured beautiful graphics, being it was the late ’80s, the world just seemed so much larger and out of reach than today which made it so much more fascinating seeing images of different cities, from around the world – a very exotic experience indeed. Adding all of this with ships and a bit of action every now and then – it was the perfect mix.
I have since replayed the original and tried out remakes and I still love the simulation part of the game, the arcade sequences not so much.
In 1986 two German engineers and programmers Rolf-Dieter Klein and Martin Ulrich started the development of Ports of Call, a global shipping trade simulation game. The development would take over a year to complete and numerous visits to ports around the world, and to the Baltic Exchange in London, the largest freight exchange for Ports of Call shipping were made, to ensure the game would be as “correct” as possible.
The game took advantage of the Amiga 500’s superior graphics capabilities and featured beautiful artwork from cities and ports around.
Ports of Call was initially released in 1987 for the Amiga 500 and published by Aegis Interactive Software, earlier known as Aegis Development, Inc., based in Santa Monica, California.
Aegis Development was an early Amiga developer of productivity software, and even before the Amiga 1000 was officially released to the public in 1985, Aegis was hooked by the machine’s promised color and music capabilities.
Both television and motion pictures used Aegis software in the ’80s, to create animation, images, 3D, video, music, and sounds – Even some of the most popular game titles like Defender of the Crown was using Aegis software to create content.
The Aegis catalog of software spans from software developed in-house to software acquired from the best developers around.
The original Ports of Call, released in 1987 for the Amiga 500, this version was released in the US and in Europe as well
In 1989 the game was released for the IBM/PC and rereleased for the Amiga as well, this time by The Disc Company.
The Disc Company release was to my knowledge only released in Europe, both as a combined UK, DE, FR version and a localized version for Spain (significantly smaller box), which might seem a bit odd since The Disc Company was located in Los Angeles, California, but it could be that the game had seen significantly better sales and interest in Europe.
The 1989 rerelease by The Disc Company, my copy is for the Amiga but the IBM/PC version was released in the same box. I’m not sure if this release was also published in the US)
New versions have been released in the ‘2000s for Android/iPhone and Windows.
Aegis Interactive Software only published a handful of game titles, and none saw the same success as Ports of Call, which almost immediately got a “cult” following, that still extends to this day.
*If anybody has more information regarding the different releases of Ports of Call and where they were released, I would love to know more.