Sid Meier's Pirates! (Wii) Review

By Sam Turner 15.02.2011 2

Review for Sid Meier

Pirates these days have an imagination problem. No longer are they the swash-buckling miscreants of old with a penchant for showing black dots to old people and kidnapping children. These days, pirates seem a lot more concerned with the principles of love, honour and Hollywood super budgets. The only thing they do have in common is the increasing care and provision for the paraplegic who have long since replaced dead limbs with bits of wood. Therefore, at least there are some modern day pirates that still have something in common with the old; even if it is just an over infatuation with money and the disabled. However, the pirates now gracing the Wii in Sid Meier’s Pirates! are nothing like anything you will have encountered before.

Pirates! is a remake of an original Commodore 64 title called Sid Meier’s Pirates!, which was released back in 1987 and came from the man behind Civilization, Sid Meier himself. Back then it was a huge risk for Micropose to release a game by a designer who had only previously been involved with making flight simulators. However, it is a risk that paid off. Now, though, Mr. Meier is more renowned for his work on Civilization, whilst 2K Games has taken on the license from Firaxis Games and repackaged this wandering classic for the Nintendo Wii generation.

First off, the name Sid Meier’s Pirates! is a bit misleading and nothing more than a piece of marketing spiel to entice retro gaming fans. The role you play in the game is not really that of a pirate at all, with a privateer being closer to home. The difference between the two is that pirates are lone figures of self-importance, with snarling dress sense. On the other hand, privateers essentially belong to a government and operate on their behalf to attack enemy ships. After booting up the game it quickly becomes clear why the marketing bods kept up the pretence that players would take on the role of a pirate; it was either that or I would be talking about a game that screamed ‘Privates’ at me from the box art, and that is not the ideal way to capture an audience.

Screenshot for Sid Meier's Pirates! on Wii

Other than being utterly misleading from the moment you first pick a country to defend and represent, Pirates actually starts at a very gentle pace. There is small amount of customisation to partake in at the beginning. Namely that of designing how your pirat...*ahem* sorry...your privateer should look, as well as the design of your first flag ship with which you will be heading out onto the Caribbean seas. It is a simple welcoming that does a jolly effort of reminding you that apart from being a game about finding missing family members, Sid Meier’s Pirates! is also a title that tends to prod you down a plank of role-play (even though pretty soon the game will completely forget that you were ever on the plank in the first place!). Even the sharks that were once eagerly chomping away as you slowly edge along will be glad to have never seen your feted corpse fall from the ship above.

At this point the mere mention of the title Sid Meier’s Pirates! is difficult due to the feeling of such abandonment. Encountering a title that leaves the player so disappointingly malnourished in terms of help and tutorship is certainly a rare occurrence. If anything, it should be called Sid Meier’s Privates! (which sounds like an entirely different game…), and whilst it is not without several elements of guidance, they are so poorly implemented that a process of personal experimentation will soon begin in terms of making up controls just to see if they will work successfully.

Screenshot for Sid Meier's Pirates! on Wii

2K Games may have included sections that teach a bit about where to go and what missions you will be challenged to, but never in Pirates! will you be told the benefits of plundering a ship, trading goods, or making sure you are sailing with the wind instead of against it. Nor will you be enlightened to the importance of food stocks, crew acquisition or even why the wind never changes direction. The criticism may seem somewhat over-the-top, with a touch of getting carried away with the negative comments since after a while the cause and effect of most of these elements in the game can be picked up by sheer experience. This proves to be satisfying enough, yet it is still hard to believe that this game is actually trying to get people to achieve anything of any remote importance.

Advancing in Sid Meier’s Pirates! is pretty much down to how the particular person wants to play and the career of choice they want to fashion for themselves. The freedom in play is the most appealing thing about the game and sailing to hunt down a (proper) pirate fiend or trying to win the heart of the Governor’s daughter makes parts of Pirates! a pleasure. It helps, as well, that for the most part the sailing is easy and is well animated, although you will be punished for spending too much time out at sea, for ill explained reasons. There are some really nice parts to the title that make it feel like the game it really should be. Discovering small nations willing to trade food, yet in need of protection whilst transporting goods to your port gives the right set of appeal and instruction that fits in well amidst the setting of the game. It is just a shame that overall Sid Meier’s Pirates! is nothing but the same mixture of repetitive mini-games.

Screenshot for Sid Meier's Pirates! on Wii

Whether it is sinking a boat, battling a captain, or dancing with a fair maiden, Sid Meier’s Pirates! is made up of the same short button-presses and Wii Remote slashes over and over again. If the lack of tutorial wasn’t enough to make you feel abandoned, the sparse controls and inaccurate direction of the Wii Remote certainly drive home the frustration. The mini-games that are so commonly placed are only made to feel even more repetitive and annoying when one gesture registers whilst another flounders overboard and, like the games themselves, this will inconsistency in input recognition happens over and over. Again, it wouldn’t be quite as much of an issue normally, but Sid Meier’s Pirates! is nothing other than these tiresome games where progression relies on taking down an enemy or completing a dance by completing certain movements in a set time. Most players are liable to just haul anchor and be off rather than give this the time of day!

Screenshot for Sid Meier's Pirates! on Wii

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 5 out of 10


There is potentially a wealth of time to be spent in Sid Meier’s Pirates! There are heaps of quests and challenges to uncover and unlock. However, the strategy of the original PC game is replaced with mindless mini-games and even the product itself does not seem to be bothered if players attempt to explore any of the hidden depths. The feeling of being left adrift in Pirates! is one that just should not be tolerated.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date None   Australian release date Out now   


Wait is this is pirates or civ?? it is pirates but has the title of civ.. I think this game is ok. Its nowhere near civilization but it is fun sometimes

Never mind haha i got confused on the title

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