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Open Seas: Sid Meier’s Pirates! iOS Review


We finally have proof that pirates are better than ninjas!

Well, maybe not definitive proof, but there are a lot of benefits to being a pirate over a ninja. First, there’s the freedom afforded to a pirate on the open seas with his own ship. Then there’s the gunplay, cannons, and adventure. And of course there’s the hats. Ninjas didn’t get to wear cool hats all the time.

20140514-182205.jpgTaste cannonballs, ye scurvy dog!

Unfortunately, there aren’t a lot of video games based on pirates anymore. Ninjas get the Tenchu series, Dead or Alive (and its offshoots), Shinobi and the countless fighting games with ninja characters we love. What do pirates get? Pretty much just the recent Assassin’s Creed: Black Flag.

Oh, and Sid Meier’s Pirates! I have rediscovered this game, released originally in 2004 on PC and in 2012 for iOS. Time to jump back into the high seas of the Caribbean and become a pirate lord!

20140514-182133.jpgThe open seas are yours for the taking!

The iOS release features pretty much the same game as a PC version which is wonderful. Anyone who knew and loved the original can stop reading and make their App Store purchases now. For the rest of you, Sid Meier’s Pirates! is the story of a young man from a noble family. The evil Baron Raymundo seizes your assets and arrests your family, while you manage to escape. Ten years later, you begin an adventure to get your revenge by taking passage to the New World. The captain of the ship is cruel, inciting a mutiny by the crew which rallies behind you. Soon you’re in command of your own ship and receiving a Letter of Marque from a country of your choosing, leaving you free to engage in piracy.

20140514-182257.jpgRum, crew and unique items are all found in the tavern.

Gameplay consists of you navigating your ship around the Caribbean, looking for ships to plunder, goods to trade, treasure to take and Governors daughters to romance. If you’re not necessarily looking for an evil pirating experience, you can purchase goods from different ports and trade them for higher profits elsewhere. However if you are an aspiring Top 10 Pirate Lord, you can hunt down some of the more notorious pirates throughout history and search for their buried treasure.

20140514-182445.jpgA little slower, but just as exciting!

Older players will notice some changes in the control scheme. Instead of the comfortable number pad on the keyboard, you get, (you guessed it!) touchscreen controls! While making the sword fighting a little less responsive, it works perfectly well with shipboard navigation and even better with the reworked Governor’s Balls (dancing, for the perverted among you), which is now timed tapping of spots on the screen instead of specific move types.

20140514-182241.jpgMuch easier to figure out.

On the upside, the path to revenge is much easier to follow now. You have a list of objectives, such as capturing a ship or sacking a town, that lead to your vengeance against Baron Raymundo. It encourages different ways of playing which will help newcomers to learn the game better.

20140514-182148.jpgFor the resourceful pirate, plenty of info is in the Pirate-O-Pedia.

On the downside, ships now move much faster than they used to, so simple things like entering a town or attacking a ship can be a little harder to do. An option for game speed would have been a nice touch. Also, the old method of attacking colonies, a strategy element involving troop positioning and attacking, has been replaced by a cannon minigame. Although it makes more sense on iOS, the new minigame is far less satisfying to complete than the old one was.


Sid Meier’s Pirates! still remains a must play game. Good for small sessions or longer voyages, this game covers the casual gamer well and gives more traditional gamers more value for the purchase price. The additions are mostly great, the game retains its amazing core concepts and new players can finally be the pirate they always wanted to be. If only ninjas were as cool…

Sid Meier’s Pirates! was originally Rated E for Everyone by the ESRB, for Alcohol Reference, Suggestive Themes, and Violence on the PC, with this iOS release earning a score of 12+ for Infrequent/Mild Cartoon or Fantasy Violence and Infrequent/Mild Alcohol, Tobacco or Drug Use or References from the App Store.


About RedGuinness

Andrew Shortall (RedGuinness) is the Writer, Editor, Administrator and founder of Stay-At-Home Gaming. He also suffers from sleepless nights, summer new release withdrawals and trying to behave himself in front of his new nephew.

2 comments on “Open Seas: Sid Meier’s Pirates! iOS Review

  1. Pingback: Around the Web – 5/18/14 | The Credible Hulk

  2. Old School Game Blog
    August 21, 2014

    Looks good. 🙂 I’ve got the original version for Amiga on my shelf. 😉

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This entry was posted on May 15, 2014 by in Game Reviews, Video Game Reviews and tagged , , , , .

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