357 Days Until Talk Like a Pirate Day!
In this Issue
"Sid Meier's 'Pirates!'" and the Nintendo Wii gaming system were made each other. It's a match made in video game heaven!
The new version of the classic pirate video game is due out tomorrow, and it's terrific. It's essentially the same game we've been playing on the XBox for several years, with slightly improved graphics and some interesting new touches.
But the biggest change is the best – the sword fights with the Wii controller are closer than ever to real sword fighting. Instead of sitting in your chair mashing the A button, you're on your feet, flicking the controller left, right, up and down to lay waste to your opponents. I don't know whether it's the controller or something in the game itself, but right from the first I found it easy and intuitive. I clobbered every single foe I faced, not even close.
The combat improvements, all by themselves, make this a huge improvement of an already great game.
There's also a new twist, the chance to add a player. "Pirates!' has always been a one-player game, but in the Wii version your friend is not forced to sit there watching while you have all the fun pillaging ships and sacking ports. Now he or she can pick up the other controller and help steer the ship - keeping the sails set to best advantage in the wind. And when you're fighting that Spanish captain on the deck of a galleon or facing against Blackbeard on the quarterdeck of Queen Ann's Revenge, the other controller can become a "fighting parrot." The parrot flutters above you and when the signal comes it can flutter down into your opponents eyes, pecking at him and ruining his timing.
When sailing the seas I ran into more storms than I recall on the XBox, and when I did, the sea lurched and the image swayed. It was very cool.
The game is essentially the same story -- Montalban has ruined your family, kidnapped various relatives, you have to track down Baron Raymundo again and again to find clues to their whereabouts. But you can choose what kind of pirate adventure you want to have. If you want, you can ignore Raymundo, just amassing a fortune in booty. You have the whole Caribbean to pirate in and where you go and what you do is up to you! You sail between ports capturing ships, selling your treasure, keeping the crew happy. And you have to dance with more governor's daughters than any pirate ought to.
The dancing was always my least favorite part of the game, but the Wii controller makes that a little more fun too. The key, as always, is counting the beats and making your moves in time to the music. But now instead of pressing the buttons, you're flicking the controller to make the moves. I haven't caught on quite as well in the few dances I tried, but I have to say this -- Using the same gestures and movements for dancing that you do for sword fighting was oddly satisfying.
Another change is that you can change the appearance of your character -- hair length, color, complexion, etc. In port you can go to the Captain's Chamber and change your outfit, and the Mysterious Stranger is constantly offering you new clothes, hat and boots to buy. You can also change your ship's appearance, customizing the sail color, your battle flag, figurehead etc.
But that leads to one complaint. If, when other members of my family play the game, they can change the character's clothes and appearance, why can't my daughters choose to make the character female? It's not like there weren't any female pirates. How hard would it have been when working out the customizing aspect to have added the option to make the pirate a woman? Okay, it would have seriously screwed with the whole "marry the daughter of governor" quest or the "my jealous fiance wants to fight a duel with you" schtick. But the fact is my daughters and wife rarely played the game on the XBox and probably won't play it a lot on the Wii, because it's not about them. When I play, I can vicariously become the character. When woman plays, they're a step removed from the action.
But that's only one complaint – one I hope someone at 2K Games listens to – amid a whole host of bravos for the great piratey action. The new "Sid Meier's 'Pirates!'" for the Wii is a great marriage of game and hardware that's just a lot of fun to play. If you've got a Wii you need this game. If you love the game on another platform -- well, Christmas is coming. Put a Wii on your letter to Santa, because "Sid Meier's 'Pirates!'" is just too fun to miss.
And of course, you don't have to miss all the fun. Because if you have a Wii or are planning to get one, and if you want the game - we're giving you a great chance to get one free! And what pirate doesn't want free stuff?
We're giving away 20 copies of "Sid Meier's 'Pirates'" for the Wii to the best 20 pirate haikus (or "Pi-Ku") that we get. You know what a haiku is - a little literary gem written with five syllables in the first line, seven in the second and five in the third. It distills an issue into a little kernel of truth. And a Pi-Ku distills an issue into piratey truth. Aarrr!
Send your entries to firstname.lastname@example.org to qualify. Make sure to include your name and address so we can mail games to the winners! We'll print the winnin' Pi-Ku's on our web site, on the Facebook fan page, and in the Poopdeck.
Thanks for helping spread the word, and the word is "Aarrr!"
- Ol' Chumbucket, Ed.
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