Sunday, February 23, 2020

[YouTube] Sid Meier's Pirates!

As I'm sure I've mentioned a few times, MicroProse's Sid Meier's Pirates! is what I consider to be my favorite game which is why it is getting special treatment in this post rather than simply a quick "Let's Play" video. The four videos cover a 10-hour full game edited down to around 3.5 hours. It's not easy to show a full game as the pace is often slow, there isn't much music, and most of the sounds are of the wind/water. As I say in the first video, I recommend at least watching the first half of part one and all of part four if you just want to see what the game is about.

Released in 1987, Pirates! is the first title to feature Sid Meier's name in it and that did become the norm going forward, and it worked from a marketing perspective. I certainly had (and still have) confidence in any product with his name in the title. As a teenager I got pulled into the virtual Caribbean many weekends; it's a game with a world one can easily get lost in as most open-world games are, and this is an early example of the open-world style found in many of today's games. It was like nothing I had ever played before, though admittedly I hadn't played many computer games at that point in my life having inherited the Commodore 64 (C64) in the latter half of the '80s, and that was my first computer.

This is an interview from the March/April 1989 issue of Video Games & Computer Entertainment.

Of course, being from 1987 the graphics and sound effects are fairly basic but those things never seemed to matter as much back then. Maybe it just feels that way when someone is nostalgic about the past, however, there is something special about the visual and audio simplicity of many games from two or three decades ago (though again, perhaps that only applies to those of us that lived it?). There isn't a lot of story in Pirates! outside of rescuing four family members which actually works quite well. The game is more of a sandbox where players are the star of the game as they create their own stories. Players go where they want, attack who they want, take what they want, and select a new nation to take over towns they conquer. Also, as you can see in my videos, the randomness of the wars can impact the success of the player.

There are a variety of options to select before setting sail: users choose a time period, skill, and nation to represent. While a player might choose Spanish there is nothing preventing them from being an enemy of Spain and supporting the opposition instead. The game has some scenarios as well but I don't think I've ever spent too much time on those. Also, another highlight is the game's 84-page manual that contains quite a bit of information and hand-drawn illustrations. While I play the C64 version, the game is available on many computers and the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES). An updated version called Pirates! Gold was published in 1993 for home computers and the Sega Genesis as well. I actually didn't play too much of the update despite improved visuals and mouse support.

In 2004 the game was remade by Firaxis Games, a studio Sid Meier co-founded, under the title Sid Meier's Pirates!: Live the Life. It is a light-hearted take on the time period with a vibrant art style and sometimes comical characters. The graphics are an obvious upgrade over the 1987 game with other new features including famous historical pirates to defeat and a dancing mini-game when courting the governor's daughter. The scans below are all from my C64 version and I probably have the silliest of the game's box covers. I'd prefer one of the two with art work instead of a model but this is what was available when I got the game. There are just a few samples from the manual as I couldn't scan the whole thing -- I recommend reading the last two pages. I'll post all the ads I have for the game too even though they've appeared in the blog's previous ad posts and Facebook albums.

Magazine Ads

I'm posting this the day before Mr. Meier's 66th birthday and on the off-chance he stumbles upon this article, happy birthday!

Saturday, February 22, 2020

Year 4: February Update

It's Saturday and I don't have a new ads post because I finished the publisher albums last week! Actually, I do have more ads to post as I need to backtrack and post some non-publisher groups of ads but after three years I've primarily completed what I set out to do. My Video Games 2020 YouTube channel has been keeping me busy with a lot of game releases lately and quite a few upcoming in March before it slows. The uploads can be painfully slow too; the one I'm currently uploading as I write this has been going for more than 12 hours and still has a few hours to go. It's around 90 minutes long which is more than most as I try to keep them under a hour. Of course, since I'm recording clips for nearly all physical releases this year I'm playing a lot of games, just not for very long. This month I've played 13 releases, some are bundles so the total is actually 21 individual games and I'll try Dreams later today. I'm also putting something together for Sid Meier's Pirates! which is challenging as I have 10+ hours of footage that I need to edit down to something more easily watchable.

At the end of January Intellivision Entertainment launched pre-orders for the Amico Founder's Edition and it sold out rather quickly. I'm a bit surprised considering it costs $299. It required a $100 deposit and does include more than the system, such as a $50 credit for games, digital soundtracks, poster, pin, and patch. New takes on Astrosmash and Night Stalker have been shown in brief videos and, not surprisingly, both have added multiplayer options.

The New York toy fair begins today and runs through the 25th. Last year I tried to do a summary of that though I don't think I'll have time this year so let me mention a few things here that have already been unveiled. Hasbro is making 6" G.I. Joe figures! They do look nice but being that big means they can't be used with the old vehicles. Thus far Scarlett, Snake Eyes, and Roadblock have been shown, and Snake Eyes has a deluxe release only available through the Hasbro Pulse store for $39.99 which seems expensive. Hasbro has also announced the new Transformers animated series will debut on Netflix this June. There is plenty of new Star Wars merchandise as well with a strong focus on The Mandalorian's "Baby Yoda" character. Known more accurately as "The Child," it will have an animatronic toy, act as a Bluetooth speaker, have a Build-a-Bear doll, appear in its own version of the Operation board game, and be featured on many other products.

I've got a couple TurboGrafx-16 articles ready to post next month that tie into the release of the mini console launching on March 19th. It's almost baseball season and I always try to put something together for opening day but as I keep saying, I've been busy so finding the time to get anything else done will be tough. I knew that would be a problem which is why I started scanning TurboGrafx magazine articles and reviews last year in preparation. It certainly helps to think about these things months in advance but I don't have anything else planned right now. Oh well, I better get back to work!

Thanks for stopping by,

Sunday, February 16, 2020

Selchow & Righter Booklet

When I've been slow to get any new non-ads posts up I look for something quick like a small toy booklet as I did with Cadaco last April. I was going to make a video about Matchbox Cascade today but I found that it's another electronic toy that no longer works. Aside from the battery not powering it, the motor wasn't even connected from what I could see even though I thought it worked last time I tried it. While digging around the basement I found a couple of these Selchow & Righter booklets. Perhaps not a memorable name in board games like a Milton Bradley or Parker Brothers but it did make the popular Parcheesi and owned the Scrabble property for a time. The company was founded by E.G. Selchow in 1867 and was renamed in 1880 after partnering with John Righter. Coleco obtained the rights to its games in 1986 and after it went bankrupt Hasbro purchased its assets in 1989.

There are many Scrabble products pictured, one of which is an electronic game (Sensor) that I do own but haven't tried turning it on in decades. I've also still got the Alphabet Game and Parcheesi though they may be going soon as I continue to clear out my board games.

Saturday, February 15, 2020

Gaming Ads: Working Designs

Founded in 1986 and based in Redding, California, Working Designs originally worked on management software but shifted focus after its co-founder and lead programmer Todd Marks passed away in 1988. Working Designs became a specialist in localizing popular Japanese games for the North American market. It skipped over cartridge-based systems to take advantage of compact discs, which at first meant publishing for Sega CD and TurboGrafx-CD before moving on to the Saturn and PlayStation. The publisher never released games for Nintendo or Microsoft platforms and did not support the Dreamcast due to a poor relationship between company president Victor Ireland and Bernie Stolar (first at Sony and then Sega). Following development issues and reduced sales the company closed in December 2005.

Working Designs albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Saturday, February 8, 2020

Gaming Ads: Williams Entertainment

As I wrote in the Tradewest ads post, Williams Entertainment is what Tradewest became after being acquired by WMS Industries in 1994. It published many home ports of Midway's arcade games and console versions of id Software's Doom. In 1996 WMS Industries purchased Time Warner Interactive which included Atari Games, and those companies and Williams were merged with Midway Games to form Midway Home Entertainment.

Williams Entertainment albums: Facebook - Google Photos

Saturday, February 1, 2020

Gaming Ads: Westwood Studios

Westwood Associates was founded in 1985 and based in Las Vegas. It was renamed Westwood Studios in 1992 when it became part of Virgin Games. As I just wrote last week in the Virgin Games/Interactive post, Electronic Arts acquired Virgin Interactive's U.S. operations in 1998 and that included Westwood Studios. The developer was closed in 1993 shortly after merging with EA Pacific to become EA Los Angeles. While Westwood developed a variety of games, it's best known for its strategy games, such as Dune II and the Command & Conquer series.I'm not positive which company is responsible for all the ads; some might be from Virgin Games and you can see more of Westwood's game ads in that album.

Westwood Studios albums: Facebook - Google Photos