Monthly Archive: July 2006

Review: The History Channel Presents – True Caribbean Pirates

Rating: ★★★☆☆
www.historychannel.com/pirates

Historical documentaries walk several fine lines. They need to stay true to history, but they should also get us an “up close and personal” exerience – a tricky combination when much of what we know is incomplete and splotchy. They also have to weigh the tricky balance of being approachable to the novice, while also offering some worthwhile content to the seasoned student (indeed, sometimes I feel that if I hear one more explanation about the difference between pirates and privateers, I might scream. But I also recognize that most viewers haven’t heard this explanation thousands of times before.) (more…)

Review: Custom Leather Tankard

Rating: ★★★☆☆
Scurvvy Dawgs
http://www.scurvvydawgs.com/store.html

One of the best things about being a pirate (aside from rum and wenches) is that there is no uniform. We’re each free to pick from a near endless variety of colors, styles, and accessories to look our unique piratey self (and if many uniquely choose to look like Jack Sparrow, hey, who am I to judge?)

So, let’s say you’ve already created a wholey unique pirate wardrobe? What’s next? How’s about a truly unique, custom made leather tankard? Personally, I know I could spend forever and a day searching for that perfect mug that just screams “Bilgemunky” – all to no avail. But as you can see from the photo, I gots me one! This is thanks entirely to ScurvvyDawgs.com. They make a variety of leather goods, but it’s the tankard that I’ve had the pleasure to experience first-hand. All I had to do was provide a picture of what I wanted, they embellished that with their own colors and stylizations, and there it was – a lovely tankard that is truly worthy of the Bilgemunky. (more…)

Review: Old Century Shut the Box

Rating: ★★★☆☆
www.frontporchclassics.com

As anyone that’s played Front Porch Classic’s Dread Pirate knows, this is a company capable of making some gorgeous, heirloom quality games. But where Dread Pirate was full of gold and silver doubloons, lovely multi-colored jewels, and gorgeous metal ships, Shut-the-Box is surprisingly plain – a box with 9 numbered tiles mounted in it, and two wooden dice. It might cause one to say, “it’s very nice looking, but is it fun? And more importantly, what in the world does it have to do with pirates?”

Answering the second question first, while other board games are based on recreating the pirate fantasy, Shut-the-Box recreates the reality – this, in fact, is the very game many a pirate and sailor actually played during those long voyages. Whether drunk on the decks, or drunk in a tavern, some version of Shut-the-Box was likely close at hand.

So on to the second question – is it fun? (more…)

Review: Port Royale 2

Rating: ★½☆☆☆
www.ascaron.com/gb/portroyale2

I never played Port Royale 1, so I can’t compare. But popular opinion has it that the first was actually the better of the two.

Port Royale 2 is primarily a game of economy – managing your businesses, expanding your influence, and instructing your captains on trade routes. You can also do a fair share of privateering on behalf of the governors, possibly even winning one of their daughters’ hand in marriage. Sound familiar? It should – a little bit Sid Meiers’ Pirates! and a little bit Tropico 2, the game doesn’t really live up to the standards of either. The graphics are decent, but I felt substandard. This I can easily forgive.

What I can’t easily forgive is the overall atmosphere of the game – in short, it has none. Many games have some sense of emersion – even if you’re looking down on a pixilated pirate ship from third person view while punching a keyboard, somehow the combination of music, imagery, strategy, and overall feel gives you the impression you actually ARE commanding a mighty sea battle. Not so with Port Royale 2. I found initial sea battles to be very tricky, but after some practice it became tedious and mechanical – send in ship, beat enemy down with chain shot, send in second ship with grapes, board. Wash, rinse, repeat. (more…)

Review: Pirate’s Cove

Rating: ★★★★☆
www.piratescovegame.com

Pirate boardgames, much like pirate children’s books, have the distinct advantage of freedom. They’re free to ignore the limits and dictates of history, and are at their best when they shamelessly embrace the colorful fun and mythology of the pirate life.

Pirate’s Cove does a splendid job of doing exactly that. Players each adopt a pirate ship, and then take it in turns to sail across a colorful map, plundering towns and each other along the way. The entire game takes place in twelve “months”, with each month being a full round of turns. Players secretly elect where they intend to sail by using a ship’s wheel dial, and then all display their dials at once – any player going to an island alone gets free reign to conduct their business there, while if two or more make the same landfall, combat naturally ensues. (more…)

Review: Boulder Dash

Rating: ★★★☆☆
www.firststarsoftware.com/bdtp.htm

Now here was a fun little discovery – “Boulder Dash: Treasure Pleasure” allows you to choose your hero, either a boy or girl. You guide that hero through a number of levels of puzzles as they collect enough jewels to go to the next level. The puzzles start simply enough, but quickly become more difficult as new opponents are introduced in the forms of spiders, pirates, and weird glowing things.

There’s not really much to go into for a review, as this game is a 2-D console format, like Donkey Kong or Pac Man. The graphics are cute, the puzzles can be challenging, and you can develop your problem-solving and motor skills. I’d definitely recommend this for cabin younkers, so check out their free trial.