Sid Meier’s Pirates!

No longer available in the App Store

Sid Meier’s Pirates! is an iOS port of the 1987 game, and it plays amazingly well on the iPhone. You are a pirate sailing around the Carribean, capturing ships and building your wealth while constantly tracking down a villain to progress the main quest line. You can capture ports and switch their nationality, winning and losing favour with the four different nations (Spain, England, France, Holland) depending on their current alliances. You can also trade goods. And there are various items to buy in taverns. A dancing mini game wins you favours with Governors’ daughters – and you will need to marry to complete the main quest. And there are lots of recurring side missions, such as ferrying settlers about and taking governors or even plant samples to new destinations. The main combat is done through sea battle and fencing, in which you swipe to make different moves.

Because the game is so vintage you’ll find a lot of old quest guides online. The general advice to pick fencing as your speciality is very sound. Another is to ignore the “divide the plunder” feature, just stick with your (unhappy) cremates, or you’ll find yourself ageing too fast. Eventually when you have enough gold, around 2000 per head, your crew will be permanently happy. Plus you won’t have to re-buy any of the gear. If you do decide to share the plunder and “start over”, you will keep your main ship, and of course the main quest line progress. But it is quite easy to die from old age before you complete it, so take that as a warning to hold on to your booty.

Genre: classic RPG
Platform: iPhone iPad
Character: name, specialisation, difficulty level
Story: original main quest
Gear: special items in tavern, but no inventory screen
Sidequests: numerous: several different kinds of recurring missions
Treasure: ship plunder, pirate treasure maps, lost Inca cities
Features: goods trading, dancing mini game, achievements
Grinding: moderate, since you’ll constantly need to earn more gold
Links: Appshopper