Few games have that special something that, even decades after their original release, keep us wanting to play them again and again. However, released back when the Sega Genesis was still in its prime, Pirates! Gold is one such game.
Shinier Pieces of Eight
Even though the “gold” release was a reboot of a game that had appeared on 8-bit home computers, such as the Commodore 64 and Amstrad CPC, high-seas adventures were brought to life with much more polish when Pirates! Gold was released on the Sega Genesis, thanks to the improved graphics and sound of the 16-bit console.
Crossing all kinds of gaming genres, Pirates! Gold embraced elements of action, adventure, strategy, RPG and simulation. There was also a huge amount of freedom, with players able to shape the game to their own imagination, thanks to such flexible gameplay in which practically anything was possible.
You could search for treasure and lost family members following the basic story background or you could forget that entirely and amass your own pirate empire, building huge fleets of ships to terrorise the Caribbean. If flying the flag of a nation was your preference, you could even raid and capture colonies for England, France, Spain or Holland, although conquering the whole Caribbean was perhaps the stiffest challenge of them all.
Historic Pirate Legends
One of the areas in which the classic Microprose and Sid Meier titles always excelled was their historical influence and Pirates! Gold was no different in that regard, featuring real-life historical pirates such as Henry Morgan and Jack Rackham, Stede Bonnet and Bart Roberts. Perhaps the most infamous of them all was Edward Teach, better known as Blackbeard, who was one of the toughest encounters in the game.
Pirates! Gold isn’t the only game featuring arguably the most notorious English swashbuckler of them all, because Blackbeard also appeared at the top of the wanted list in Sonic Heroes. The 3D platformer featuring Sega’s flagship hedgehog hero was released across all the main gaming platforms in 2003.
Nevertheless, there’s a more recent appearance for Edward Teach amongst a treasure trove of slot games at Aspers Casino Online, where Blackbeard’s Booty can be found. One of the progressive slots at this online gaming venue, players aim to win plenty of pieces of eight by matching winning symbols via the five reels and nine paylines – or via the bonus features, if they’re really lucky.
Sega Genesis Golden Age
It’s fair to say that Pirates! Gold was perhaps the best game of its time and is still fondly regarded to this day, although there were several other notable pirate-themed games for the Genesis, released during the same era the console was popular. Some were inspired by movies that came out around the same time, such as Cutthroat Island or Hook, with the latter based around the adventures of Peter Pan.
Choosing the pirate’s life was entirely optional in the deeply strategic Uncharted Waters series, while it was altogether accidental and hilarious in Secret of Monkey Island, with its hapless hero, Guybrush Threepwood. Finally, and taking a different twist on the genre, Pirates of Dark Water was a side-scrolling action game set in the fantasy realm of Mer, which proved to be a swashbuckling success upon release for the Genesis.
Some of these games can still fetch a pretty penny if you’re lucky enough to encounter them for sale on eBay or Sega collection sites. However, with so few decent pirate-themed games available these days, the classic games mentioned are well worth rediscovering.