Ahoy me hearties! In honor of Talk Like A Pirate Day this week, I thought we’d take a look at a few pirate video games. The list is by no means exhaustive – you won’t find horrible titles like Space Pirates or Dora the Explorer’s Search for Pirate Pig’s Treasure here (thankfully). But you will find a few pretty good games and a couple that should be saved from Davy’s grip.
Let’s get started.
5. Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat (multiple consoles) This game is almost five years old now, but still a favorite around our house, probably because it’s very much a "pick up & play" game. We really like this one because it seems like it was a little ahead of its time, laying the groundwork for other games on this list.
Sure, there are some complaints – the sword battles are ho-hum and some of the game play gets a little tiresome, but the ship battles are great and there’s no shortage of things to do. Plus, one of the really positive aspects of this game for us is that the main character is a tough pirate gal – my two girls love that! It really is difficult to find decent female characters in games, but this game has a pretty good one.
4. Pirates of the Caribbean: At World’s End (multiple consoles) Let me start by saying that this game isn’t very good. It is boring and the combat is incredibly repetitive. It’s not very good looking and it plays like … well, a movie tie-in. In fact, there’s no reason to describe what happens in this game because it pretty much follows the PotC movies, but with more dullness.
However (and this is a big however), what saved this game for us was the fact that we picked this game up for the Wii … at discount pricing. My son is completely a hardcore fanboy of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies, so the opportunity to play as Jack Sparrow is pretty darn exciting to him. Add in the fact that the Wii controls allow him to thrust and parry his way through combat, just like Capt. Sparrow, and that makes this one more valuable than a gold doubloon in his book. I couldn’t play for more than 20 minutes, but he’s happy to spend an hour or more sword fighting and searching for treasure.
3. Pirates of the Caribbean Online (PC & Mac, basic/free, premium/$5 first month, $10 month after) Technically speaking, PotCO is a MMOG, but it plays just as well in single player mode, which is nice for kids. This attempt to cash in on the film is targeted at younger children and — keeping with that lowest common denominator theme — the game was designed with low system requirements … so it looks dated and minimal.
However, the game is very stable and, best of all, it’s free. Granted, you can pony up five bucks a month and become a premium member, allowing you to skip some ads, access the game faster and make your character stronger and get better weapons. But the free version was plenty for us. The voice acting is great and there is a lot of fun to be had in this game. It’s definitely a case of getting a lot more than what you paid for.
2. Pirates of the Burning Sea (PC, $15 monthly fee) This MMORPG from
Sony has been out since early this year and has developed a bit of a following. You play either as a sailor aligned with one of three countries or as a pirate. As with many similar games, you build your character by completing missions and increasing your wealth. The ability to customize both your character and your ship is deep and plays a vital role in how you do in naval battles. Pirates of the Burning Sea was built with historical accuracy in mind and there is good attention to detail, right down to the puffy shirts. Need to gain some speed? Throw the guns overboard and pick up a few knots.
Despite all these positives, this game gets knocked back a peg for several reasons: its steep learning curve is too much for younger kids. In all likelihood, it is far better suited for older teenagers and adults. Also, the sword fights are slow and kind of clumsy, in direct contrast to the glorious ship battles. Finally, the graphics seemed a little inconsistent – the sea and ships looked good, the people and towns, not as much.
1. Sid Meier’s Pirates! (multiple platforms) Is there really any question what would be in the top slot? With a pedigree going back to the Commodore 64, we’re considering the recent remake with the same name. What makes this game superb is that it bucks definition: part adventure, strategy, and RPG with a healthy dose of mini-games thrown in. Although the game is seemingly simple enough to just pick up and play, it’s addictiveness will keep you coming back for more and more and more.
There are other pirate games that look better, but few approach the great gameplay of Pirates. The framework of the story has you playing as a pirate, seeking revenge against an evil Spanish lord who wronged your family. But as you work towards righting that wrong, your choices and gameplay are wide open. There are so many tasks, that you’re always making progress towards the main quest. Factor in that there’s no blood, sex or bad language (and little real violence), Pirates is a title the whole family can enjoy.