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Pieces of 8-bit: pirate video games

Argh me hearties! Tomorrow it be the most booty-full time of year: International Talk Like a Pirate Day. All you scallywags must ask Polly if she wants a cracker and joyfully yo-ho-ho with a bottle of rum – or face a meeting with Davy Jones’ Locker after walking the plank.

Video games based on buccaneers have been a little hit-and-miss over the years (take that from someone who played Risen 2: Dark Waters on the Xbox 360, narrowly escaping the bugs and living to tell the tale). But there’s some treasure to be found out there; you just need to grab your shovel and dig around for it among all those shipwrecks. To get ourselves in the mood for tomorrow, let’s hit the digital high-seas and take a look at some of the better releases in honour of Talk Like a Pirate Day.

1984: Treasure Island

Gold, buried treasure and wealth beyond your wildest dreams! All you have to do is guide young Jim Hawkins through this action-adventure’s torturous maze to the treasure trove. Based on the book Treasure Island by Robert Louis Stevenson, fierce pirates will slay our hero at the stroke of a cutlass and with a limited amount of weapons available to him, it’s important to choose your targets wisely. Be careful though because Long John Silver will stop at nothing you prevent you from leaving with his haul.

1987: Sid Meier’s Pirates!

This was the first game to include the name ‘Sid Meier’ in its title in an effort to attract fans of Meier’s earlier releases. In a move away from vehicle simulations, players could live out their buccaneer dreams by attacking enemy ships and seeking buried treasure – or avoid violence altogether and increase their wealth through trade. The thing I like most about it is that the original versions included disk and manual copy projections, and if users got it wrong the game would continue but at a much higher difficulty setting. Pirates against pirates!

1990: The Secret of Monkey Island

What kind of list would this be without a mention of the Monkey Island series? A bilge-sucking one, that’s for sure! The original instalment was the point-and-click that got me into playing video games as a kid and made me a lifelong fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets. Perhaps the highlight of the title was the insult swordfighting mechanic. Who’d have thought that buccaneers were so intellectual, and would use witty comebacks to defeat their opponents rather than hacking them to death with a cutlass?

2002: The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

In a change of direction for the series, the tenth instalment in The Legend of Zelda series is set on a group of islands in a vast sea. The fun begins during the celebration of Link’s coming of age when pirate captain Tetra is dropped into Outset Island’s forest by a large bird. After being rescued by our green-suited hero, the pair discover that his sister Aryll has been taken and so the pair set out on a voyage of discovery. Queue an adventure full of talking boats, water spirits and castles suspended in time under the oceans.

2007: Uncharted: Drake’s Fortune

What’s one of the first things that pops into your head when you think of buccaneers? Hidden treasure, that’s what. And who else is known to like a bit of lovely loot? Smarmy action-pro Nathan Drake, that’s who. Pirates the world over just can’t seem to shake off this annoying douchebag while searching for ancient relics throughout the Uncharted series. Ok, perhaps I’m being a bit harsh; but after listening to Drake’s irritating quips and seeing how funny he finds himself, I’m not surprised they react to him so strongly.

2011: LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

A movie franchise with a likeable protagonist that’s proving to be popular with viewers? Then prepare yourself for yet another LEGO title! My stepson had this one for his 3DS when he was younger and went through a period of playing it obsessively after he’d been allowed to watch one of the Pirates of the Caribbean films. Everyone loves a bit of Captain Jack Sparrow and with your typical LEGO video game gameplay-style, it was a great title to keep an eight-year old wannabe pirate amused.

2013: Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag

The sixth instalment of the Assassin’s Creed series is set in the 18th century Caribbean during the Golden Age of Piracy and follows notorious Welsh pirate Edward Kenway. About 40% of the game takes place on water where players can hunt, harpoon, dive and take part in naval combat so a real pirate would approve. Speaking of which, Black Flag features a number of characters based on real life people; Edward Thatch, better known to you landlubbers as Blackbeard, even makes an appearance.

2018: Sea of Thieves

Fancy exploring the digital world via ship in search of treasure? Then team up with a group of friends to fight against other players and claim your stake in the endless sea. Embark on quests, engage in combat and collect loot to become a pirate legend. Although this title didn’t receive as positive a reception as we’d all expected it would at launch, the rumour is that its new content is actually pretty good so now might be the perfect time to return to the high seas.

However you’re going to celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day tomorrow, I hope this post has given you enough inspiration to do it in a suitably grog-filled way. Shiver me timbers!

Kim View All

Video game lover, Later Levels blogger and SpecialEffect volunteer. Big fan of wannabe pirates and fine leather jackets.

20 thoughts on “Pieces of 8-bit: pirate video games Leave a comment

  1. Yaaarrrrrr! Swab the Bosun ye scurvy Capstan or I’ll ‘ave the plank brig you to the jig me hearty! ⚓⛵🏝️

    … that’s pirate speak right?


    • I played it a few years ago on the Wii U with my stepson… I don’t recall us ever completing it, so I guess that’s a good excuse to go back to it some day. 🙂


  2. Arr. I thought this post was going to go in a different direction, given the vast quantities of pirated 5.25″ Atari 8-bit format floppy disks I have in my “retro room”… I believe there is a copy of Treasure Island among them though!


    • I’m not sure there could be a more perfect pirate-y comment. Seeing as it’s actually International Talk Like a Pirate Day today, I hope you’re going to speak like this all day. 😉

      Liked by 1 person

  3. I love pirates so this post was right up my street!

    Sid Meyer’s Pirates was an iconic part of my childhood. Wish I could play Sea of Thieves but I’m PlayStation trash aha.


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