One of the sheer delights of gaming is that it can transport us anywhere and allow us to enjoy a range of environments and experiences. From being able to try your hand at managing a football club to battling aliens in distant galaxies, the sky is truly the limit.
The recent success of Red Dead Redemption 2, however, is a reminder of how titles with a more gritty, historical feel remain a huge draw for a number of gamers. The western sequel sold more than 17 million copies in less than two weeks after its release, which shows there is a huge appetite for well-crafted titles which gives us a chance to step back in time.
But while outlaws in the Wild West are currently having their day in the sun, outlaws on the high seas were once a major gaming success story and spawned one of the best-loved titles of all time – Sid Meier’s Pirates!.
Pirates have popped up in gaming on numerous occasions down the years, from Guybrush Threepwood’s unforgettable adventures in 1990’s The Secret of Monkey Island, which still has “overwhelmingly positive” reviews on Steam, to more contemporary action-based titles such as Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag. They have even made their presence felt in the world of online slot games, with the Wild Jane the Lady Pirate title on Buzz Bingo featuring all of the iconography you would associate with adventures on the high seas. Pirates were also the overall theme of the second instalment of Tropico, Tropico 2: Pirate Cove back in 2003. However, there is an argument to say that Sid Meier’s Pirates! is perhaps the most successful pirate-related title of them all.
The game was originally released by MicroProse in 1987 and featured an open-world style, with players being given the chance to drop themselves into different historical periods to explore a range of territories and try and build up with wealth. Gamers then continued through the game until their character retired, with their total wealth determining whether they had a comfortable life or even ended up as a beggar.
Pirates! was very well-received on its release and has gone on to be named in many best game lists in the decades since, with IGN, for example, stating it was the sixth best game of all time back in 2005.
Its popularity has meant that it has enjoyed a new lease of life on several different occasions down the years, with original and updated versions of it being released on platforms as diverse as Amiga, Sega Genesis and the Nintendo DS. A new enhanced version of the game was also released in 2004 and featured a 3D game engine, which you can sample in the video below.
But who is Sid Meier and why is his name in the title? The Canadian-American programmer is the brains behind many early video games, from simulations such as F-15 Strike Eagle all the way from 1985 to the entire Civilization franchise.
Considering that the game remains remarkably popular around three decades since its original release, it seems only fair to wonder what the future might hold for it. The iPad and Windows Phone versions of the game were released in 2012 and, six years on, it is hard to bet against this enduring classic taking on new forms in the future.
While gaming trends come and go, Sid Meier’s Pirates! remains a much-loved title and will live long in the hearts of many of us.