Machiavelli The Prince is a trading game set in Venice in the 14th and 15th Centuries. Originally titled "Merchant Prince" by Holistic Designs, Inc. (HDI) and Published by Microprose. It was renamed by Microprose when they decided to include a copy of Penguin Classics book: The Prince by Machiavelli. You play the Head of a Venitian Trading House, whose objective is to dominate the Known World through trade and accumulate 1 Million Florins by the game’s 100 year time limit. You make money by buying goods from one area at a low price and selling high to another using ships and caravans.
You then must use your money to advance yourself politically within Venice and with the Catholic Church, buying off Senators and obtaining Cardinals through Simony. This influence may even allow your House to become Doge (Head of Venice) or Pope, which both open options that allow you to solidify your position among your rivals, which can be computer AI, modem, or even E-Mail based. You also can hire mercenary forces to conquer cities and open them for trade or defend against the invading hordes that threatened Europe in that age.
Perhaps the most intriguing feature of this game is the ability to resort to criminal activities directly against your rivals. You can Slander them, decreasing their political popularity. You can Burn Down their Mansions or Warehouses.
You can even Assassinate their Senators and Cardinals. Even the Doge and the Pope are potential targets! But beware, for your enemies can also do the same to you!
The graphics are similar to other tile map based strategy games like Civilization, but featured Hi-Res 640x480x256 graphics which were a change from the normal 320x200x256 games around at that time. The graphics were very static, however and there was little animation aside from the "Pieces" moving on the map. The music was very well composed and if you played a lot of the other Microprose titles, you may recall one of the songs as being from Darklands, another good Microprose game. There were also many options to facilitate online play, as mentioned before.
This game was one of Microprose's less glorious titles, but still a good solid strategy game. Anyone who has ever enjoyed any of Microprose's other strategy games should give this one a try.