The lights are on
Why haven’t there been more pirate games? They exist, but their numbers pale in comparison to their hated rivals, ninja games. It seems like a perfect world to set a video game. There are lots of opportunities for combat, even more opportunities for seeking out treasure, and endless opportunities for exploration. Pirates simply haven’t been properly tapped in the world of video games, but here are some of the more notable buccaneering adventures.
A number of games have been based on the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise, none of them particularly good. Among our reviews of the game, none of them have been able to break the 8 barrier. However, one oddity stands out among these licensed games: the Xbox and PC release that was simply titled Pirates of the Caribbean. This game came from Bethesda, and was originally developed as a sequel to the game Sea Dogs. Coincidentally, the game has little to do with the Caribbean movies, other than a few shoehorned references.
Sea Dogs was an open world pirate game, which sounds awesome, but it was just okay. Bethesda published the game, and considering the company’s current open-world development abilities (they were behind another open world game that we kind of liked. Skyrim, I believe it was called), I think it’s time to take another crack at this series.
We gave Pirates: The Legend of Black Kat a 7.5 back when it released in 2002. The game had pretty good ship-to-ship combat, but once you got off the ship to walk around, beat people up, and throw fireballs (as pirates are known to do), the game pretty much fell apart.
Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros' Treasure was a point-and-click adventure game that came to retail around the time when everybody was pretty sure the genre was dead. Now point-and-click adventures seem to be making a comeback, but it might be too late for Zack and his monkey friend Wiki. In the game, you must solve puzzles with Zack as he tries to become the greatest pirate in the world. The game didn’t sell very well, but Capcom must have liked it because the game’s director, Eiichiro Sasaki, is now the man behind Resident Evil 6. I’m sure the two games will be very similar.
Sid Meier’s Pirates has some action elements, but it’s a strategy game first. I don’t think Meier would put his name on a game that wasn’t. In the game, you do everything pirates are known to do, including ballroom dancing. As far as games about pirates go, this is often considered one of the best, as it fully takes advantage of the lore that surrounds pirates.
Legend of Zelda: Wind Waker isn’t really a game about pirates, but there are lots of pirates in it, and you can sail the open seas in search for treasure. There is also a fair bit of swordplay, too. Never mind, I take that first sentence back. Wind Waker is the greatest pirate game ever made.
Do you remember that old cartoon show about the pirates on the alien planet who fought dark water? The one that had a plot that was never fully resolved before it got canceled? It was called Pirates of Dark Water, and there were Genesis and Super Nintendo games based on it. On Super Nintendo, it was basically Golden Axe, which isn’t very piratey. On Genesis it was a platformer, which I suppose is slightly more piratey.
When I asked around the office for pirate game suggestions, Jeff Cork yelled out, “Skuljagger!” and followed up by saying, “that game was terrible.” Players take on the role of Storm Jaxon, which is the name I regret not giving my daughter. You are under a time limit for the entire duration of the game, and you could collect bubblegum, which activated powers like flight or the ability to jump higher.
The Entire Monkey Island franchise isn't so much a series of pirate games as it is a series that heavily features pirates and pirate themes. You’re not plundering or sword fighting (in the traditional sense) as much as you are solving absurd puzzles and laughing at dialogue.
Cutthroat Island was a film starring Geena Davis, and there was a video game to go wit it. Much like the licensed Pirates of Dark Water SNES game on this list, it was basically Golden Axe. The fifth level of the game featured a runaway horse-drawn carriage that players would battle on top of. Assassin’s Creed Revelations would feature a similar gameplay mechanic 16 years later. I am certain that Cutthroat Island served as its inspiration.
High Seas Havoc was a colorful Genesis title about a pirate seal named Havoc, his buddy Tide, and a girl they found passed out on a beach named Bridget. There was a lot of jumping, and a lot of inexplicable floating platforms. Along with jumping on enemy’s heads, you could also defeat them by pulling out your sword. The game took some cues from Sonic, as any good Genesis game did.
Pirates!, a title meant to be shouted, based on the exclamation point, released for the Apple II, Commodore 64, and NES. It also released for the Genesis under a gold edition, and has one of the strangest walk animations I've ever seen. It has some action elements, but mostly it lets you roleplay the life of a pirate, scurvy and all.
Skies of Arcadia features ships, swords, and most importantly, a protagonist with something covering one of his eyes. It’s not quite an eye patch, since it serves some kind of electronic technical purpose, but it looks like one, so we’re happy.
I am going to be totally honest here. I don’t know anything about Space Pirates. I know it has the word “Pirates” in the title, and that means it (probably) belongs on this list. If these two totally undoctored screenshots taken from the game manual are any indication, then this game definitely has, um, some blurry black and white scenes that take place in space. It also has a weird gold chain-wearing version of Jack Nicholson’s Joker from the ‘89 Tim Burton Batman film.
That's it! Every pirate game that ever existed in the history of time. I know you're thinking, "Hey! You forgot a really important game!" but that can't be right, because the entry for Space Pirates is right above this sentence. On the off chance I did forget one (or more) let us know in the comments below!
Email the author Kyle Hilliard, or follow on Twitter, Google+, Facebook, and Game Informer.
KoA:R The Legend of Dead Kel
Awesome list. There really needs to be more pirate games. A pirate game using Skyrim's tech would be sweet.
If somebody put out a really good, open-world type pirate game, I would play the HELL out of it.
you forgot Pirates of the Burning Sea, a Pirate focused MMORPG
I have no idea, but we certainly need more. A re-done version of Sid Meier's pirates would be amazing.
In an alternate zombie-apocalypse universe, zombie games aren't popular at all. We didn't need 'em. Instead, Pirate video-games become all the rage. There's this one really good series about a ghost ship, and a man who tries desperately to fight the monsters but in doing so only speeds his journey to join them.
They were.... pirated "bwahahahahaha"
I know Kingdom Hearts 2 wasn't a Pirate Game but you could go to the world where Pirates of the Carribean is placed... it was awesome.
Pirates! for the C64 in 1987 was the best ever!!
Perhaps now Tecmo will be moved to create Pirate Gaiden considering that NG3 was such a bust... ;-)
Pirates: Legend of the black buccaneer.
Treasure Planet had space pirates...right? I've only played about 30 minutes of the PS2 game and never seen the movie, but Treasure is in the title, so that has to count. Glad you put Monkey Island on the list.
There's been some pirate-themed expansions to games such as Two Worlds II and more recently Kingdoms of Amalur: Reckoning.
What's he talking about? I pirate games all the time
Ratchet and Clank: Quest for Booty
I loved Pirates! I had it on the PC and Genesis.
Risen and the soon to be released Risen 2
I remember a game called "Pirates Legend of the Black Buccaneer" on PS2, I enjoyed it for the cheep price I bought it at. I was a little disappointed that the Armada of the Damned game got cancelled :/