Sawbuck Gamer


One For All And All For Booty

The peg legs in Pirateers! are made from imitation wood.

By Drew Toal • May 25, 2012

Sawbuck Gamer is our daily review of a free or cheap ($10 or less) game.

My first impression of Pirateers! was that it is to Sid Meier’s Pirates!—long the gold standard for open-world, high-seas mayhem—what “McDowell’s” is to McDonald’s in Coming To America. That is, it’s a barely concealed knockoff, shamelessly trading on a more widely known brand. “They got the Golden Arches, mine is the Golden Arcs.” This sense of cheap imitation isn’t dispelled by numerous typos in the game’s opening sequence. It’s possible that this is just an added bit of realism reflecting a pirate’s lack of formal education. Either that or I’m just being a dick.

Pirateers! begins with the story of a fabled artifact known as the Neptune’s Eye. It’s said that the Eye is the key to incomprehensible wealth, but it has been lost to the ages. While you quest for the Eye, many secondary missions present themselves. You can raid merchants, attack (or defend) fellow pirates, and trade broadsides with the Navy, collecting valuable artifacts and gold along the way. These can be used to upgrade your ship’s armor, weapons, and speed.

The controls are simple, a bare-bones piracy. You steer and fire your cannons. You don’t even have to worry about feeding your parrot. When your ship is destroyed, you’re returned to the main menu, where you can upgrade and set sail once again. The game doesn’t do much to exorcise Sid Meier, but it’s an easy kind of fun in its own right, and your ship will sink many times before you can gather the pieces of Neptune’s Eye. Is it worth all the trouble, though, of so many defeats? LIke Howard said in The Treasure Of The Sierra Madre, “Gold itself ain’t good for nothing except making jewelry with and gold teeth.”

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95 Responses to “One For All And All For Booty”

  1. Effigy_Power says:

    I guess you could say that Sid Meier’s “Pirates” games were so all-encompassing in the department of what you can do with the theme on an arcade-sort of level, that every game thereafter necessarily has to feel like a bit of a ripoff.
    After sailin’, cannoneerin’ and bucklin’ some swash, what other substance is there really to pirates? Don’t get me wrong, I love the sealubbin’ bastards, but when it comes to variety, there isn’t really much to go on, especially since the time-period people usually identify with pirates, that of the Spanish Main, isn’t all that long.
    Maybe you could try and get pirates of other cultural areas or times into the spotlight, but for 99% of people, it’s the “Arrr”s and “Ayyee”s that seal the deal.

    • HobbesMkii says:

       The Golden Age of Piracy, the period in which most of the famous pirates operated in, is ever smaller than that: 80 years at the maximum.

      I think the attraction to pirates as a motif is about what made piracy so attractive to pirates: a freedom of person and movement that doesn’t really exist anymore (and may not have really existed for pirates, either).

      • Effigy_Power says:

         Yes, you are right about the period. The few well-known pirates and their hunters all fit into a single lifespan more or less.
        And yes, the ideal of freedom and romance is what Errol Flynn made out of it in the 40s. Up to that point pirates were regarded completely different and quite a lot less positive, or at least less ambivalent to their crimes.
        Few groups of disease-riddled, poor, tortured, murderous rapists have had the same PR pirates have had. Makes you wonder if the desperate kidnappers known as Somali Pirates will have the same romantic imagery attached to them in 250 years.

        • HobbesMkii says:

          Probably not. They are black, poor, and foreign. So that’s three strikes right there.

        • Effigy_Power says:

           They’re only foreign if you’re not from Somalia.
          Plus technically all players on the Spanish Main were foreign to most of us, considering there weren’t any Americans or Canadians just yet.
          And some Somali pirates are actually of Arab descend.
          (I agree with you, I just like pokin’ holes in things.)

        • nevilleross says:

          If ever what transpires in the similar game Battle Pirates ever happened to Earth, ALL of us would become pirates, with the rest of humanity (the elite banking and corporate classes) becoming the ‘official’ class that’s being pirated. Then, what’s happening to the Somalis won’t be so badly regarded. 

    • Chris Holly says:

       Great point. In fact, the original was so complete and near-perfect that the best they could do with the remake was overhaul the graphics, add in a few more quest types and make a dancing minigame.

      I totally love Pirates! (The games, I mean.)

      • Effigy_Power says:

         That’s the thing exactly. You either have to completely blow open the genre (with airships or magic or other steampunk BS) or live with the limitations of the source material.
        There’s only so much you can do with 300 stinking dudes on a small wooden boat that’s appropriate for gaming.

  2. Brambo says:

    “Either that or I’m just being a dick.”  I’m stealing this line for every blog post on any topic I write from now on.

  3. Fixda Fernback says:

    Oh, Drew. I don’t think it’s “being a dick” to point out typos in a game, especially ones occurring at the very beginning, i.e. the “presentation” portion of a game. I mean, hell, if they can’t be bothered to fucking spell-check their own intro, how the hell am I supposed to be bothered enough to get into it? There are way too many well-made games out there to waste your time on shoddy ones, and I think rampant misspellings are as good an indicator of quality/time invested into making a game as anything else.

    • Effigy_Power says:

       Mostly agreed, however game-developers from non-English speaking countries often outsource translation-work and can’t be blamed for shoddy work, after all, if they spoke English well enough, they wouldn’t need to outsource the translation.
      Mind you, I haven’t been able to find out where Labu Games is from specifically, so that’s just a guess.
      There’s a Malaysian town called Labu and the word means “good” translated from Latvian, so it’s anyone’s guess.
      The website doesn’t specify, but my guess is something Asian.

      • Fixda Fernback says:

        Yeah, that’s clearly a bit different– and in fact, that can often add an odd charm to the game, almost. But when it’s someone who has English as a native language (or a big enough release/ported title that translation should have been done well), it definitely telegraphs laziness. But in the non-English speakers, it seems to be more grammatical errors than spelling. Especially these days, when every browser and computer and program has built in spell-check.