Ahoy there, matey! Sid Meier (personal computer game programmer par excellence) is heading up the gangplank for his Genesis debut with a new version of a Micro-Prose classic, Pirates!
Slap Pirates! Gold into your Genesis and set sail across the Caribbean in search of buried treasure and plunder. It's the 16th century, and you're a young swashbuckler in search of fame and fortune in the world's most dangerous profession. Although there may not be enough hard-core hacking 'n' slashing for some gamers, this one-player graphic adventure captures the thrill and danger of being a pirate, without the risk of scurvy.
Thar be three modes of play in this beauty. During normal game play, your goal is to advance in rank and solve the Ten Great Pirate Quests. As any old salt of the sea can tell you, your object is to retire with lots of land, lots of money, and a wife. The second mode is Command A Famous Expedition. In these mini-scenarios, you're a powerful pirate on a quick quest. In Fight A Duel Mode, you practice, what else, your dueling skills.
You can vary the scenarios with a veritable treasure trove of challenging options. You can change historical-periods, nationalities, difficulty levels, and special abilities. The special abilities range from the mundane (Gunnery and Fencing skills) to the exotic, such as Wit (the ability to impress Governors, crewmen, and young maidens).
A Pirate's Life for You
When the game begins, you journey across land doing what pirates do. In cities, you recruit crew members, buy supplies, charm the Governors (and their daughters), and bank your gold doubloons. Once you're at sea, you search for other ships and cities to attack to increase your plunder. The Ten Great Pirate Quests include standard swashbuckling fare, such as rescuing kidnapped relatives and looking for a bride. There's a great deal of depth and complexity to this game, including a few history lessons.
- Attack an enemy that is at war with two nations. Then, visit the governors of the two allied nations. You might get land and promotions from both of them for helping to defeat their common enemy.
- When the Governor speaks, you should listen. If you complete a secret mission for him, he'll reward you handsomely.
Those familiar with the original Pirates! will notice a few changes that may or may not shiver their timbers. The Genesis version has less text and more animated graphic interfaces than the original PC game. The graphics, though, have maintained a "PC feel" that'll appeal to most players, although the animations are more limited than those found in other action/adventure-style role-playing games. Toe-tap-ping sea chanties add to the ambiance, as do digitized pirate voices.
The controls are simple, logical, and easy to learn. However, maneuvering your boat at sea and during combat is frustrating at first. You're apt to go left when you want to go right.
Dead Men Tell No Tales
Adventurers who enjoy thought-provoking gaming will get hooked on plundering the Caribbean in Pirates! Gold. Those lacking patience for this style of gaming will feel like walking the plank. But, aye, a visit to Davy Jones' Locker may be just what you need.
Download Pirates! Gold
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
- PC compatible
- Operating systems: Windows 10/Windows 8/Windows 7/2000/Vista/WinXP
- Game modes: Single game mode
- Up, Down, Left, Right - Arrow keys
- Start - Enter (Pause, Menu select, Skip intro, Inventory)
- "A" Gamepad button - Ctrl (usually Jump or Change weapon)
- "B" button - Space (Jump, Fire, Menu select)
- "C" button - Left Shift (Item select)
Use the F12 key to toggle mouse capture / release when using the mouse as a controller.
I can remember the exact moment I became interested in the romance and adventure of the pirate world. It was the first time I listened to my Crackerjack record on which comic genius Don Maclean sang: 'Fifteen men on a dead man's chest/Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum/Dirty great footprints all up his chest/Yo ho ho and a bottle of rum'. British comedy never again touched such dizzying heights.
Inspired by this lyrical masterpiece I grew a beard (no small achievement for a seven year old) stuck fireworks into it and adopted the name Captain Firebrand. By the time the scars had healed over, and I was released from hospital, MicroProse's Pirates was on the scene.
Rather like football, Pirates was a funny old game. It was, to say the least, graphically uninspiring even for the time and it didn't really have any great depth of gameplay, you simply sailed the Caribbean looting ships and cities, hunting for buried treasure, toadying to governors and trying to marry their daughters. (Nice work if you can get it.) Yet despite being relatively simplistic the game was very addictive, had an atmosphere and romance that was appealing and, above all, it was good fun. I was not the only one thoroughly hooked on it.
However that's enough reminiscences. For those of you who've played the original Pirates what follows is going to be pretty much old hat so either go out and make yourself a cup of coffee until I've finished or skip straight to the last paragraph and the 'How is Pirates Gold! different to Pirates' bit. The rest of you concentrate; I'll be asking questions later.
Prepare to sail
The numerous options at the beginning of Pirates Gold! mean that there are many ways to play the game. Strictly speaking the difficulty level is chosen when you elect to be either an apprentice, journeyman, adventurer or swashbuckler. This decision affects not only how tough your opponents are but also how unruly or restive your own crew are. (Oh yes, Jwccaneering isn't all swords and cannons: the successful captain needs to be well versed in interpersonal management skills too.) However, the game is also influenced by the nationality you choose to play and, more significantly, the era you choose. These range from The Silver Empire (1560) to Pirate's Sunset (1680). Each different time period throws up its own problems affected by the relative strengths of the different empires. For instance, when Spain is completely dominant there are rich pickings but it's difficult to unload them (Spanish towns tend to be reluctant to trade with pirates). In the more shattered times the pickings are less but trading is easier.
A life on the ocean wave
Once you've set up the options it's time to take to the high seas. From then on a ships log might go something like this: Attack Spanish Galleon - plunder her and then put a prize crew aboard.
Attack Spanish Sloop - plunder her and then put a prize crew aboard.
See Spanish Frigate - run like jiggery.
Arrive in St Kitts - visit Governor, receive land grant and title, talk pleasantly (in a rough gruff seamanly kind of way) to his daughter. Visit merchant and sell plunder. Go into tavern, buy section of treasure map from traveller, recruit 18 ruffians into my crew. Leave town.
Attack Dutch Sloop - plunder her and then put a prize crew aboard.
Raid Martinique - loot town, install new Governor. Attacked by Captain Vahn Rhynn the pirate - sink his ship with cannon fire, sloop suffers loss of mast.
Raid Santo Domingo - beaten off, the galleon runs aground. The game carries on pretty much like that. As you progress you get various missions on behalf of Governors, plus missions on your own behalf to find buried treasure, the silver train and even your kidnapped sister.
As well as winning battles you must also manage your crew. This involves keeping them happy by regularly distributing the loot and giving them plenty of action. Apart from crew management and seamanship (stop smirking at the back) the skill in playing Pirates is in knowing when to fight and when to leave well alone. You can't rush around attacking everyone since, if all nations turn against you, there's no one to trade with. Moreover there are favours to be won by siding with one nation against its enemies. The final skill is knowing when to give up. Old pirates never die they simply retire and open wine bars (where they bore the clientele sick with their reminiscences of their youthful exploits). Death is not an option in Pirates Gold!, defeat simply ends in capture and a few months sitting in prison. However, as the game progresses, you get older, less healthy and less able to do what was once so easy. As soon as those twinges of age became noticeable it's time to retire; at which point the game then calculates your future based on your financial and physical state at the time of retirement.
Plus ca change
To be honest when I started writing this review I was going to give Pirates Gold! a bit of an old slagging. Not for what it is but for what it isn't: it isn't very different from Pirates. The graphics are better but they're hardly ground-breaking, the swordfighting has been improved with more offensive and defensive moves but they're no Prince of Persia. In one way the game has been somewhat spoilt. Navigation in the original Pirates was carried out by way of a map and an astrolabe. To find out where you were you had to either find a city or take a sun reading. In Pirates Gold there is a map in the Captain's cabin which constantly shows your position. Half the fun of Pirates was being completely lost on the high seas.
However as I write the review all the fun of the game comes back to me. If you've never played Pirates and the idea of a highly playable high seas adventure appeals to you then buy Pirates Gold!, it's great fun. If, however, you've already got Pirates then I'm not so sure. Do you really want the same game twice? Paul Lakin.
There are two basic forms of combat In Pirates Gold!. Ship to ship gun battles and captain to captain swordflghts. Oh, and Ship to town battles. So there are three basic forms of combat In Pirates Gold! plus land battles. Four basic forms of combat.
- Ship to ship
Whenever you run into a ship and decide to do battle then it's a case of manoeuvre and fire. However many ships you have in your fleet you can only select one with which to actually fight. You can sink your opponent (or else force him to surrender), however, it's also a useful way of reducing the odds before ramming and boarding.
- Swords at dawn
The most common way of deciding a dispute over ownership of a ship, city or sister is by duelling. The result of the battle is influenced not only by your own fencing skills, but by the numeric strength of your crew. If your crew are overwhelmed before you have defeated the opposing captain then you're in the clink however well you are doing personally.
- Ship to shore
Before landing and doing battle with a town's captain (see above) there's a considerable degree of softening up to indulge in. The problem with this method of attack is that more often than not you're sailing into the wind, so your approach to the fort is slow. We're talking sitting duck here.
- Land war
The least frequent method of combat. More often than not if you land too far from a town, your crew will sit on their fat backsides and refuse to budge. However, if you do approach a city overland then there'll be a rare old ding dong involving pike and musket. This is the nearest combat in Pirates Gold! gets to being strategic, it's still fairly simplistic though.
- Manufacturer: Microprose
- Machine: Genesis
- Theme: Action
Ahoy, Matey! Microprose has struck gold on the Genesis with their new swashbuckling action game, Pirates! Gold.
Brandish your sword for grueling duels on the decks of enemy ships from all across the globe. Back on shore, stop by the local tavern to recruit other scavengers and get valuable information. Select your crew from six different time periods and set sail for high seas terror!
Another involving RPG game! As a pirate of the high seas, you do everything: engage in ship battles, get food and provisions, select your crew, even engage in sword fights. The password function is a must with this kind of game. The graphics are excellent, but the control on the sword fights is choppy.
This game gets points for an original theme but falls short in overall play. The action can be fun when sword fighting with other ship captains and even exploring the high seas. Pirates can be a bit complicated for the younger crowd, but for those who like to sit and think when playing games, this could be a good one.
Here's an old favorite from the computer with better game play and improved graphics. The game is basically a mix of pirate role playing and adventure. There's a lot of involvement is raiding the other boats and finding towns that are safe to stay in. The sword fighting scenes could have had a bit more interaction to them.
This is a cool sort of adventure game. You get to be a swashbuckler who is the captain and hero. It combines action with adventure and strategy in all-out action game. The graphics are crisp and colorful and the fighting is very easy to get used to. Complete with passwords, this is a game worth getting into and exploring.
Shiver me timbers, here comes Pirates! Gold by Microprose. Take to the high seas in search of gold and other booty while doing battle with the ships of other countries.
Sporting an impressive list of playing options including an incredible sword fight mode, this cart is a treasure chest of swashbuckling fun. Relive tee days of the skull and crossbones with Pirates! Gold. Yo-ho-ho!