by William Thompson
reviewed on WII
It's just a jump to the left...
Once you have begun ascending the ranks of your nation, the opportunity to befriend a Governor's daughter becomes available. And if she likes you enough, she'll invite you to the grand ball. Now, dancing may not be a typical piratey thing to do, but dancing well enough with the lovely lass will often present you with special gifts or vital information. During the dance, your dance partner will give special hand gestures indicating the next dance move. Moving the Wiimote in the right direction will result in some nice dance moves and a happy lady. Unfortunately, it does take some time getting used to the timing of the moves and will often lead to your character tripping over his left feet. But, as with anything, play enough and it eventually becomes easier over time.
What's different in the Wii version?
With the Wii, there have been two exclusive mini-games developed. The first involves the bombardment of enemy forts. And it is an enjoyable (if not slightly on the easy side) inclusion to the Wii version. It involves sailing across the front of the enemy harbour and shooting out the enemy cannon placements. As you sail across the harbour, you will need to aim your Wiimote at various cannon placements along the fort. Shooting them out will, of course educe damage to your own ship, but they all need to be destroyed before plundering the city can occur. At times, there may be ships in the harbour and these will also need to be destroyed. In the case of ship destruction, quicker is better.
The other exclusive Wii mini-game is the Lock-picking feature. Hopefully, you won't have to use it. In fact, I lost battles on purpose a couple of times just so that I could test out the function. Essentially though, once captured by a rival captain, gamers get the opportunity to pick their way out of their cell. Escape can be secured by tilting the Wiimote to the correct position for your lock pick, whilst avoiding the eyes of patrolling guards. It definitely is fun, but unfortunately (or should that be, fortunately) you won't need to complete it often.
Sights and sounds of the Caribbean
Visually, this Wii version of Sid Meier's Pirates! cannot compare to the PC version of 2004. This, of course, is to be expected with the Wii's graphical limitations. But having said that, the graphics are really good for a Wii game. In fact the vibrant colours used in the game fit in perfectly well with the Nintendo console. When sailing around the Caribbean, the clear blue water shimmers and reflections of the ships can be seen. Storms appear with rain, lightning and black clouds. Dolphins leap out of the ocean and follow along with your fleet. Islands are lush and green with tropical vegetation. Character animations are fairly good, but have a blockish look to them. The characters all seem to be slightly exaggerated and this fits in well with the cartoon look of the setting.
Audio too, does a great job of setting the Caribbean feel of the era. Sailing past towns results in the sound of local tunes and sea shanties emanating from within. The sound effects also do an admirable job. On the long voyages, the sound of the ships creaking and wind howling can be heard. During naval battles the cannons fire with large bangs and crew cheer when they score a direct hit. Sword fighting duels have sword clangs and clashes and groans of being stuck with the sword. Dancing with a governor's daughter is accompanied with some classical tunes that indicate when specific moves are required.
No walking the plank required
Despite the fact that a couple of the mini-games can become a little repetitive, the game is really fun to play. Choosing you own destiny, rather than having a strictly linear path is really rewarding. Even though your initial choices of nationality and specific skill could be the same for every game, the game will play out completely different meaning the replay factor is huge. The controls are simple and intuitive, although I would have really liked Wii Sports Resort style sword fighting, the visuals are vibrant and colourful and the sound effects keep the Caribbean theme going strong. The new mini-games are also a nice inclusion to this version of Sid Meier's Pirates!. So with that, I'm going to head back to the tavern, recruit some more crew and resume my search for the evil Marquis.
Open world with ability to do as you please in the Caribbean. Wii exclusive mini-games are fun additions.
Mini-games can get repetitive. Manual was a waste of paper, with no useful info about the game.