30 Days of Xbox: Sid Meier's Pirates!

Pirate Booty-ful.
If you’re reading this, the name Sid Meier shouldn’t be an unknown to you. Sid’s best known for the Civilization games, a series that has never transferred to consoles terribly well, but he’s also been the brains behind a number of other series, including today’s game, Pirates! Or Sid Meier’s Pirates, if you want to be technical about it, and usually I do.
Pirates! very much does what it says on the tin, casting you into a mostly-open world of piracy on the Caribbean seas as you seek to discover what happened to your family by dint of starting large scale wars between the Spanish, Dutch, French and English.

OK, this is actually a PC trailer. But then this game exists for everything. There’s probably an abacus version.
Or, y’know, not. I’ve played a lot of Pirates over the years, and this remake of the 8-bit original exists on everything from iPad to Wii to the Xbox, but I can’t honestly say I’ve ever completed the main quest. That’s because, as Rat would have put it, there’s nothing quite so much fun as messing around in boats. I’ll start a game of Pirates!, intent on finding all my relatives and finishing the primary quest, and then I’ll decide to, say, change all the English towns to French, or work out the most profitable trade routes, or just hunt down every other “named” pirate instead.
It’s very easy to get sidetracked, which is a testament to the underlying game design, because at its core, Pirates! is really just a collection of very light mini-games. The dancing sections are just quicktime events, the swordfights aren’t much better and the ship-to-ship combat is quite rudimentary too. Yet somehow, it all holds together to an extent that I can happily fire it up and spend just a few minutes, or immerse myself in it for hours.
It’s charming, and that’s not an adjective that you can apply to all that many games these days.

Fat Duck Tech Retro Xbox Game Rankings

  1. Prince Of Persia: Sands Of Time
  2. Taito Legends 2
  3. Sid Meier’s Pirates!
  4. Outrun 2
  5. Ninja Gaiden
  6. The Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction
  7. Godzilla: Save The Earth
  8. The Punisher
  9. SSX Tricky
  10. NFL Street
  11. Disney Extreme Skate Adventure
  12. FIFA 2004
  13. NHL Rivals 2004
  14. Rocky
  15. Spy vs Spy
  16. Rugby League
  17. Judge Dredd: Dredd vs Death
  18. Dead or Alive Xtreme Beach Volleyball

Sid just nudges OutRun 2 from its placing, but that’s got a lot to do with the fact that I’m not a huge racing game enthusiast, whereas I can drop myself into Pirates! happily at the drop of a doubloon.
Next time: Time to wake up.

Author: Alex

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