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pirates splash screen


GLOBAL – Time to run up the Jolly Roger, become a buccaneer and blast the barnacles off the sides of your Nokia Lumia. Sid Meier’s Pirates allows you to act out a life of derring-do and high-seas adventure while you’re on the bus to the DIY store.

Set in the Caribbean, Pirates combines strategy and arcade elements. Unlike Civilization Revolution from the same designer (reviewed recently), Pirates isn’t a game that lets you pause for much consideration between turns. You need to continually direct your ship and your pirate avatar or you’ll quickly find yourself in Davy Jones’ locker.

There are two main elements of the gameplay. The first is buying goods cheaply at one port, then selling them for a profit at another. If you prefer a more sedate pace, then this is the part you might concentrate on.

port ahoy

On the other hand, you could forget the whole ‘paying for goods’ idea and take them from another ship by force. In fact, even if you prefer the trading game, other pirates will come and try to sink your plans, so you better get used to the combat element anyway.

Ship-to-ship combat is a matter of getting your ship’s cannons in line with your opponent’s vessel and letting them have it with a choice of armaments. You can also just ram the other ship and take matters in hand personally with your trusty rapier.

There are a bunch of missions and mini-games: finding lost treasures, courting wenches, fulfilling bounties and eventually reuniting your indentured family. But to be honest, as a mobile phone game, I found it more fun just to pootle around the ocean, getting myself into trouble.

brave captain Delaney

I very much enjoyed this game and it’s one you might dip in and out of for months given its open-ended nature. But it’s only fair to point out that there are a lot of loading screens to sit through on your path to wealth and infamy. If you’re concerned about this, there’s a free trial available, so you can find out for yourself if the game is to your taste.

But there’s one other important thing to say: I’ve played this game before. But it was in 2004 on my PC: the Lumia edition is pretty much a 100% rendition of the latest full-sized version of the game. Whatever your reaction to the game, that’s a pretty amazing testament to the extent to which smartphones have evolved over the last decade. 

Have you tried Pirates yourself? Did you find it a “yo-ho-ho” or more of an “arrghh”?