Sid Meier's Pirates!


And really bad eggs... Drink up me 'earties, yo ho!

We don't usually hold with any type of scoring system here at GWJ but when SpyNavy sent in his review of Pirates! complete with his own special system I couldn't really say no. You see, Spy is in the military and they might be training him to kill people with mind bullets. I'm not going to take that chance so enjoy the review score!
All of SpyNavyÂ's reviews are done on a one to five Spys basis. One being IÂ'd rather play extreme Paintball Deerhunter Trespasser and five being IÂ'd almost give up sex for at least a day for this game.

As a military officer I believe in the BLUF concept or Bottom Line Up Front so here is.

Graphics: 4 Spys
Sound/Music: 5 Spys
Interface: 3 Spys
Fun Factor: 5 Spys
Overall: 4 Spys

Executive Summary: Sid MeierÂ's PIRATES! is a can of fun waiting to be cracked open. The game is a prime example of Sid at his best. A remastered classic that retains the fun of the original and enhances it with fantastic sound, whimsical graphics and game play that will make you grin like a child and have you coming back for more.


Idle Musings: I remember playing the original Pirates on my Commodore 64 into the wee hours of the morning as a young high school student. Sailing the Spanish Main pillaging ships and towns and crossing swords with other Captains and the City Guard all while using my battered joystick from my Atari 2600 are still some of my fonder gaming moments. So when the 21st century version of the game was announced and subsequently released imagine my surprise when I was like Â"meh, maybe I will get it, maybe I wonÂ't.Â" Perhaps my general malaise about the game was due to all the other games that were being released or perhaps I had become jaded (I have become jaded, but thatÂ's a different story), regardless I am pleasantly surprised by this game.

Sid Meiers makes games and his games are synonymous with fun. I am not a Sid can do no wrong fan, but I have yet to encounter a game of his I havenÂ't enjoyed (I havenÂ't played Gettysburg so I canÂ't attest to its quality). That being said this game has its foibles, but they are only slightly annoying and the rest of the game more then makes up for it. So letÂ's start off with the foibles.

Game on: All games, I repeat all games should come with two required features. The first is the ability to save anywhere and the second is the ability to customize the keys. Sid what in the world were you thinking when you decided I can only play your game with the bloody keypad? I enjoy the simplicity of being able to control everything from the same set of keys, but I want to be able to determine what those keys are. I routinely bring up the menu in the game with the default (and only) set of keys while I am sailing around and it irks me Sid, you wont like me when I am irked. This is a nearly unforgivable design flaw and I hope it is patched. Second, why canÂ't I save in town Sid? It seems like a natural place to save – why do I have to set sail before I can? Huh, huh? If I am missing something here, please loyal fans point it out to me. Barring these two flaws the game is well thought out and delivers the boatloads of fun – get it boatloads, itÂ's a treasure of a game – get it Pirates, treasure, boats, oh well I tried.


The Game: In a similar vein to the original you start off as a lowly deck hand who becomes the Pirate Captain of a small ship with the overarching quest of finding your kidnapped sister. This is all laid out in a well done cut scene at the beginning of the game. You are offered a choice of countries to hail from at the beginning of the game and this choice affects which ports you may randomly start at and who initially offers you the requisite Letter of Marque to begin your career. Additional choices include the time period you will start at, your skill emphasis (Fencing, Sailing, Cannoneer etcÂ"…) as well as the initial overall difficulty of the game. After, you make these choices the game provides a minimal amount of direction and allows you to either pursue the main plot line of finding your sister or just sail around as a peaceful trader, dastardly Pirate or anything in between.

Plentiful side quests abound and include hunting for buried treasure, wooing any number of governorÂ's daughters, hunting other Pirates or enemies of the crown. These quests are provided in a number of ways and all have tangible rewards of some sort. As you sail around the Caribbean you will find Â"mysterious tradersÂ" who will sell you things that will aid you in any number of ways or you can be given these things by a smitten governorÂ's daughter. Items can enhance your skill at fencing, your crews morale (yes just like the original you must watch the happiness of your scurvy sea dogs), your sailing ability or how well you dance.

Speaking of dancing, it is perhaps the most frustrating yet oddly satisfying portion of the game. Unless you have the quickest fingers on the planet you will find yourself getting the hand from the GovernorÂ's daughter many, many times until you are both promoted in rank and acquire some dancing shoes. Your progress in wooing the governorÂ's daughter is shown by a heart and gives you feedback on just how well you are doing and the first time you successfully dance to completion and the young lady shows her appreciation will be a wonderful moment (trust me).

Pirates! is actually made up of a number of mini-games woven together by an overarching goal based system and you are constantly rewarded for playing in some manner whether it is gold from a captured ship or town or the hand of a beautiful governorÂ's daughter. These mini-games include the trading of cannon fire with other ships, the fencing duels, the simplified ground combat required to capture a city, and the dancing. The design and game play elements are solid throughout and just Â"make senseÂ" so much that you will only consult the manual sparingly if at all.


Graphics/Sound: The game is full of atmosphere with the sounds and music enhancing the graphical Â"flavorÂ" of the game. The cartoon like graphics are well done if slightly repetitive in the model selection, particularly the other Captains you will duel a number of times from the various countries. The Captains of the other vessels each hail from a particular country of the era (Spain, the Netherlands, France, England, and the unaligned Pirates) with each having a model that deviates slightly depending on how difficult the duel will be. A fat rich merchant will look different then the Captain of a War Galleon etc. The detail in the graphics and the little touches show that a lot of love and attention was placed on this game. The CollectorÂ's Edition DVD version lets you add certain musical and graphical flourishes to the game such as different music reminiscent of Jimmy Buffet and a couple of different flag choices. All in all not a big deal, but they are examples of the details that are present throughout.

Sailing into the sunset: I really enjoyed the game and I found myself losing three or four hours of my life at a time without realizing it. The game isnÂ't a revolution, it doesnÂ't break new ground, but it delivers exactly what it promises – enjoyment and hours of good olÂ' wholesome entertainment. If you enjoy a light hearted, fun, and well crafted game look no further then Sid MeierÂ's PIRATES!.

- SpyNavy


Good review Spy, I really miss Pirates! But it isn't getting much love for the past 6 weeks.

Anyone know of some good mods yet? I want a Black Pearl ship mode definitely.

Excellent review. Looking forward to what Spy has to say about Silent Storm and Sentienals.

I finished it but I could not go back and replay it. Tried cranking up the difficulty and tarting as the spanish but just could not get into it a second time. I did have fun playing it at the time but without any multiplayer and few if any mods, there seemed little reason to keep playing.

I half expect this to be ported to consoles. It just felt like a console game to me.

I bought this game and installed it and made sure it worked and promptly ignored it for the past month or two. Half-life 2, City of Heroes, WoW, Battle for Middle Earth, Evil Genius all seemed to get in the way.

I am going on a 2 week Windows 2003 admin course starting Feb 1st in another city and I am taking my PC. I will make it a goal to give this game a chance during that period.

What a fun review! This has been on my list of "Hmmm, I wonder how cool that is?" I think it'll move to the "Gee I wanna play that" queue.

The "save on desire" thing, I swear that should be beaten into game developers. It's my biggest peeve with Evil Genius.

The "save on desire" thing, I swear that should be beaten into game developers

Why would you not do this? I wonder that myself.

Sounds like a fun game, I'd like to try it please!

I received Pirates! Half-Life 2 and Rome: Total War for Christmas. While I have been impressed by HL2 and R:TW, at least by what little I've played of them, for some reason, whenever I have some gaming time, I find myself drawn to Pirates like a whirlpool.

I can't help myself. I am NOT playing Rome: TW and HL2, games that I anticipated for months, to play Pirates instead. That is the sign of a great game. It probably helps that I never played the original, so I don't have the feeling of "been there, done that" that others have talked about.

I think my wife might be more addicted to the game than I am, though......

and the first time you successfully dance to completion and the young lady shows her appreciation will be a wonderful moment (trust me).

So... Does she give you oral sex in the game?

CEJ wrote:

I half expect this to be ported to consoles. It just felt like a console game to me.

I believe there will be an X-Box version in the future. Considering I first played Pirates on the NES, it certainly does feel console-ish.

The thing that actually struck me the most about the game was how little was changed from the original game...but in a good way. There was an obscene amount of detail in the game, from the realistic direction of the wind to the way different types of sails flew when sailing in different directions.


This is one terrific game. They ONLY reason I didn't play this non-stop after getting it for Christmas was GTA: San Andreas. Well done Sid Meier!

What a surprisingly organized review. I stood at attention reading it.

so, wanted to make sure you all were aware of this, has nothing to do with the game, which I look forward to playing, but, damn it's fun to talk like a pirate

...sailing off I be to a dark and stormy sea, ye wayfaring lads be meeting me when the gale winds blow...aye, and ye'll be bringing me treasures, I know...

My Pirate hat is off to Certis who added the screen captures for me since I am terrible at that kind of thing, but I am trying to get better - I have some very nice butt shots of my Galaxies character - it was supposed to be a vista, but oh well. I also have a nice snap of the bakside of a Griffin in WoW - so thank Certis for the nice screen shots :).

KrazyTaco[FO] wrote:
and the first time you successfully dance to completion and the young lady shows her appreciation will be a wonderful moment (trust me).

So... Does she give you oral sex in the game?

No, but after you finally actually succeed at dancing and she gives you that little giggle and flirtacious sound - you feel liek a million bucks :). There is a nice little hint of more to come though hehehe.

PIrates was awesome. I played it for about 2 wks and beat it and haven't gone back. But man was it addicting for those 2 wks.

btw, pirates is coming for xbox.

Most excellent game...I logged quite a few hours sailing the seas...and like Conrad, after I married the beautiful Dutch Daughter (hot Dutch women....SWWWWWWWWWINGGGGGGGGGG) - I even enjoyed flirting with all the other ladies (the whole girlfriend in every port thing!)

Just a fantastic 'fun' game!