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!

No comments:

Post a Comment