|Designer (Original)||Sid Meier|
|Platform||Genesis (also available for DOS, Windows, Mac, Amiga CD32)|
In Pirates!, players could, for the first time, freely move within the living breathing world of the 17th Century Caribbean. There was a constantly shifting political landscape to traverse, the economics of outfitting, feeding and keeping your band of pirates happy, the search for hidden pirate treasure, real time naval battles with shifting winds and the effects of your chosen weapons and even an emotional plot involving the attempt to save your family from indentured servitude on sugar plantations.
Pirates! was something like we had never seen before and a game that seemed could only be truly realised on a home computer.
In 1993 that all changed, as Pirates! Gold, a graphically revised and control system reworked version of the original game was released on the Sega Genesis. While an NES port had been released two years earlier, it offered no improvement on the 1987 game's graphics or menu systems.
Pirates! Gold still has you dealing and wheeling throughout the Caribbean, but now the graphics look stunning. Many of the menus have been replaced with graphical cues and the few blemishes from the original game (the location mini game, where you measured the location of the sun to figure out your latitude) have been buffed out or replaced, creating a smoother feeling experience.
Now you can align yourself with different nations, gaining titles and honors, but watch out, that letter or privateer from the English asking you to attack Portuguese ships may not be worth much if the English form a new alliance with Portugal in order to wage war against Spain! You'll have to hit port often and find out the latest news, talk to the local governors.
Or maybe even wave a phony flag and engage passing ships in order to find out if they are legitimate targets.
The possibilities in the game are endless, but you'll ultimately have to decide when to retire. Staying in the game too long, will mean you'll slow down, your reflexes will fail you in sword fights, young blood in your crew will try to take over and ultimately you may lose all your riches. That one last bounty may mean the difference between living out your life as a rich baron or telling stories of past glories to the other drunken beggars on the streets of Port Royal.
Pirates! is an undisputed classic that almost 30 years on can still teach us a thing or two about open world gaming.