The late eighties was a wondrous time for gaming as it had began to hit full swing, and playing a game across thirteen floppy disks was commonplace. Nintendo released their NES console (outside of Japan, that is), bringing gaming into living rooms worldwide. There were joysticks, colourful 8-bit graphics and if you ever became bored of the MIDI soundtracks, Blondie and Duran Duran were on the radio. Okay so the music sucked, but a whole cornucopia of classic titles were released including the original Super Mario Bros which, I can safely say, is as much fun to play today as it ever was.
So let's begin our look back at the second in our “Eras of Gaming” series with a selection of games released from January 1st 1985 to December 31st 1989.
Sid Meier's Pirates!, MicroProse - 1987 Commodore 64
Sid Meier's Pirates! is, without a doubt THE game that got me forever hooked on computer games. When it first appeared in 1987 I took one look at that box cover art and said, "A game about pirates! This I have got to get!" Little did I know that within a couple days I would have become permanently attached to my Commodore-64. Since that original media used a 5-1/4" floppy disk, I actually wore it out by just putting it in and taking it out of the computer; I had to buy a replacement copy just to continue playing the game again and again and again and..... Then when I moved and got an IBM-PC, I purchased a third copy; the game was THAT good. It wasn't all pure entertainment; it did have a few flaws.
I actually met Sid at a local convention where he was hawking MicroProse games, and I asked him, "How come I keep encountering a 64-man, 8-gun pirate-hunter pinnace that has 64 guns and a crew of 256?" (The second time I encountered that pinnace, I discovered that 5-1/4" floppies make fairly decent Frisbees. Five minutes later, the disk dusted off, it was back in the PC where it belonged.) When he answered, "You must have seriously pissed off the local governor!" I very nearly punched him out. But overall, the game was very nearly the perfect game: action, adventure, treasure-hunting, duelling, strategy AND tactics. Even the DRM -- answering just when the Treasure Fleet or Silver Train arrived in different towns -- was entertaining and educational. The manual's how-to for playing the game was coupled with the anecdotes from the "Memoirs of Captain Sydney" that gave the player a better understanding of how to play the game as well as immersing him more completely into the life of an aspiring pirate in the Caribbean. It would make a decent choice for "If you only had one game ..." what-ifs.