Do you know what my favorite level theme in gaming is? The ones based off of Pirates. I know that it’s odd, but I have a fascination with levels like coves filled with treasure or port towns filled with rouges and bounty hunters. And since my recent trip to Disneyland’s Pirates of the Caribbean has reminded me just how much I love the setting, I decided to dedicate an entire list to it! So put on your eyepatch and draw your cutlass, we’re raising the Jolly Roger!


10-Port Royale (Kingdom Hearts 2)

Not many games give you the opportunity to fight alongside Jack Sparrow, but Kingdom Hearts II takes full advantage of this. Captain Jack joins your party as you go to fight off the evil Captain Barbosa and claim the Black Pearl once more. 


9-Pirate’s Island (Billy Hatcher and the Giant Egg)

In my opinion, Billy Hatcher is one of the most criminally overlooked games of all time. It is one of Sonic Team’s greatest creations, especially in atmosphere. Every world feels unique, and nothing is quite unique as world 2. Skull coves, cannons, forts, sea monsters, and pirate ships are all scattered throughout the area for you to explore. It perfectly captures every pirate trope in the book, in a fun way.


8-Pirate Ship (Castle Crashers)

Castle Crashers has a wide variety of levels, but one of my favorites is halfway through the game. As you cruise to the desert, a pirate ship starts to bombard your ship with cannons. After surviving that, then a Japanese boat comes up and starts shooting Ninjas at you. And then a giant robot comes out of the water, only to be brought underwater by the Kraken, which eventually kills the Ninjas. Yes, Castle Crashers is a weird game.


7-Jolly Roger Lagoon (Banjo Tooie)

Another list, another chance for me to praise the Banjo series. Jolly Roger Lagoon is a port town that is home to many colorful characters including Tiptup, Captain Blubber, and Captain Blackeye. It is a very diverse level as well. You can visit a local tavern, a cove, and even the lost city of Atlantis!


6-Dead Men Tell No Tales (Sly 3: Honor Among Thieves)

Dead Men Tell No Tales is a rather unpopular level amongst Sly fans, and I can see why. Instead of sneaking around a large open area, you are sailing around the ocean with a behemoth of ship. It also has an unbelievably memorable battle against a sea monster and a very entertaining sword fight boss. With all of that mixed in with the decent ship battles, I can say that this level was a success.


5-P.C. (Far Cry 3)

What was once an old cove on Rook Islands, but once Vaas’ crew discovered the outpost they turned it into a place to store their captives. This is a huge, sprawling map that gives you many opportunities to take down the pirates. You could slowly stab the patrols and sneak down to the center. Or maybe you climb into the guard tower and start sniping. Or you might just grab your assault rifle and zipline down into the center. It was the first mission to really show off how fun this game is.


4-Abducted (Uncharted 3)

Yet another level starring modern pirates. In Abducted, Nathan Drake is captured by a pirate crew and left to die. So when Nate breaks out of his captivity, he searches through a graveyard of ships to kill his captors. This mission takes advantage of the game’s cover mechanics, and you better be able to shoot well in this mission unless you like frustration.


3-Pirate’s Grotto (Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door)

If my previous lists haven’t made it obvious, I love Paper Mario: The Thousand Year Door. It has many great features, but the prime one is the fantastic level design and theming. Pirate’s Grotto is a doozy of a level. You explore an old cavern that’s home to the greatest pirate who ever lived, and you must survive everything he throws at you. It is the perfect mix of puzzle solving, platforming, and RPG combat all wrapped up into a nice Pirate motif.


2-Pirate Panic (Donkey Kong Country 2)

First levels always set the bar of what to expect in a game, and you know that you’re in for a ride when the first level is this good. Pirate Panic is an excellent departure from the jungles and caves of the original game for a more colorful tone. The level is perfectly pirate themed, from the masts to the rolling ocean in the background.


1-Naval Missions (Assassin’s Creed III)


Here’s the funny thing about Naval Missions in Assassin’s Creed III. They’re pirate levels in everything but name. You must maneuver through tricky oceans of sharp rocks by sailing with the wind and changing the mast while waiting for the perfect time to unload a cannonball barrage onto your opponents. Just give Connor a beard and the pirate theme would be complete!