Review: Loot

Rating: ★★★☆☆

There’s something to be said for games that can be played in only a few minutes. Loot is one of the easiest to learn, and easiest to play, pirate games I’ve come across in a long time. It’s played entirely with cards, primarily representing merchant and pirate ships of varying wealth and strength, respectively. Merchant ships are put into play, and players take turns pitting pirate ships against them, with the strongest attacker adding the merchant to his booty pile. When the cards run out, the booty is tallied, and winner determined. And that’s it!

While not as involved as many pirate board and card games, Booty benefits from a rapid gameplay that takes on a uniquely fun rhythm – almost like a good game of checkers or jacks. Intended for agest ten and up, the artwork is of course silly, fun, and piratey – and the card material of a high quality. And best of all, it can be played in only a few minutes time, so even pirates with short attention spans can take part.

Review: Dread Pirate

Rating: ★★★★☆

There are several pirate table-top games out there, and many of them are quite good. But few conjure a feeling of old-world piracy so effectively as Dread Pirate from Front Porch Classics. Packaged in a real wooden chest, from the moment you remove its contents of metal doubloons, glass jewels, and even a cloth playing “board”, every aspect of this game seems as though it were stolen straight from the captain’s cabin. It’s as if it were specifically designed to be played over rum by candlelight – preferably while a storm wages outside. Continue reading

Review: Skallywaggs

Rating: ★★★★½

What, no ships? No pillaging? And you never even leave port until the very end? Bloody ‘eck, what kind of pirate game is this? Short answer: A drop-dead-in-your-linens-and-flog-a-seagull-for-grins fantastic one.

Skallywaggs is a top-notch mix-n-match card game where you struggle to build a crew so you can set sail while doing your devil-best to keep your opponents from doing the same. Crew members are assembled from a multitude of three-card combinations (head, torso, legs) to make a near endless variety of cut-throats. But mind you, not all pirates are created equal, and some combinations can create characters that will win you a distinct advantage, while still others might bring your crew to a screaching halt. Continue reading

Review: Plunder

Rating: ★★★½☆

Plunder is a fantastic game the whole family can enjoy (so long as there’s only four of you.) It captures all the best things piracy has to offer – pillaging, sailing, buried treasure, tavern brawls – while at the same time remaining portable enough to take nearly everywhere.

The game-set itself is made of very durable materials – the coin and booty tokens are heavy-duty cardboard, and the cards are rigid and glossy. It’s all compactly packaged in a surprisingly solid cardboard box shaped like a small treasure chest that I’m sure will hold up for many years. Everything is decorated with properly nautical/piratey artwork that gives that perfect feeling for an evening of merry cut-throatery. Continue reading

Review: Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates

Rating: ★★★★★
Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates

I first fell in love with this game back when they were still beta testing. It was fantastic then, and has only gotten better. The scope has grown, as have the options and the puzzles, and my wife is wishing I hadn’t discovered this thing – my chores have stacked up to Mt. Everest levels and I’m only getting started.

There are many fantastic points to this game – it’s fun, it’s clean (arguably g-rated). But I think its greatest feature is that the pirate crews have to work (get this) AS A CREW. Some folks work sails as others pump the bilge or navigate. Somebody’s got to load the cannons while the captain barks his orders so you can all collect some booty. And isn’t that what its all about – cooperation and booty? I’d review the game in more detail, but I’m not sure I can. Puzzle Pirates is an entire world of piratey goodness, and your options are endless. I could tell you about my experiences in the game, but they won’t be your experiences. All you can do is take my word that this is a fantastic game and go learn about it for yourself. It’s like a game of Monkey Island that never ends – and I can think of no higher praise. Go there, subscribe – I promise your real life will crumble from neglect. Continue reading

Review: Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Rating: ★★★★½
I remember playing the original Sid Meier’s Pirates! back when it was the only pirate game around. I’d sit for hours basking in the cold glow of my Amiga, pillaging villages and courting governor’s daughters. Years later I had the pleasure of revisiting the game on my Sega Genisis with the release of Pirates! Gold. And now Sid Meier has treated us to yet another installment of his wonderful creation.

First, let me be plain – this is NOT the “end-all, be-all” of pirate simulations, nor was it intended to be. This is a highly detailed, multi-faceted arcade style game – realism clearly took second place to entertainment in most every respect. A small ship can dodge cannonballs. Your character can do flips during sword fights. And governor’s daughters’ display gravity defiance that truly boggles the mind. That said, this game is beautiful, and it is FUN! Continue reading

Review: Seven Seas

Rating: ★★★½☆

Popcap has a ton of cute little games, and they seem just intellectual enough that they probably increase your SAT scores or someting like that. Seven Seas is their pirate-based game where you sail around in your little ship blowing up other pirates. The tricky bit is that everyone moves on a grid, and if you’re good you can anticipate where the enemy pirates will go before they go there. If you’re not good – well – you get blowed up. It’s a fun game, and just a little addictive. The cannon blasts make a terribly satisfying “boom,” and the music’s catchy too. There’s an online version, but it’s not nearly so impressive as the one you can download. There’s a version for your Palm Pilot as well, if you’re so inclined.

Review: Ace Murder Mystery Pirate Edition

Rating: ★★★☆☆

Rum helps us drink like pirates, costumes help us dress like pirates, and music helps us sing and dance like pirates. But there’s just not much out there that helps us ACT like pirates. Enter Ace Pirate Murder Mystery – you and seven-to-nine of your dearest friends get together to act like scalliwags, eat-drink-and-be-merry, and ruthlessly accuse each other of the most diabolical murder of Captain Kidd. Who could ask for more?

I was unsure what exactly a murder mystery party entailed, but when the package arrived I found a great deal of the work already done for me. 10 party invitations inluded an introduction to the game and ideas for how each character should dress for the evening – all I had to do was add a time and date, and figure out which character I thought would best suit each of my friends. Also provided was an instruction manual for me, the host, telling me what to do (and what not to do – no good peaking at something I shouldn’t, and thereby spoiling some surprises,) along with character-specific instruction booklets, secret clues, 2 CDs (one narrated, the other effective mood-setting background sounds), and name cards (just in case we forgot who was who.) Continue reading

Review: Tropico 2 – Pirates Cove

Rating: ★★★★☆
Fun. Just an absolute blast. You’re likely already familiar with this sort of game – civic planning and the like. You run a town, you decide how the money gets spent and where the buildings get built. But this time you do it as a pirate king. You provide your pirates with gambling dens, taverns, female companionship, and the like. You also build ships and send your captains out to bring back booty. That’s the game in a nutshell, but there’s real charm here as well. When you read the thoughts of your subjects (you’re a psychic pirate king) they’re often thinking amusingly snide things. Also, sometimes your captives will get uppity, and you’ll have to loosen the reigns on your pirates to put them back in their place.

The graphics are excellent, and everything is designed to look extra piratey. But the real star of this game is the music, which is available on it’s own as a Soundtrack CD. Fun tropical music that makes excellent background music while remaining catchy enough to keep your attention. I found the CD is a great compliment to other pirate games that don’t have good background music of their own.

Review: Pirates of the Caribbean PC Game

Rating: ★★★★☆

I admit being perturbed at the name change. Don’t get me wrong, I LOVED the movie Pirates of the Caribbean. But I also loved that Seadogs was made by a small company I’d never heard of. I loved that they were making a sequel. But I didn’t love that Disney came along and bought that sequel and slapped their logo on it. Continue reading