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.
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