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Sid Meier's Pirates!: Live the Life

Moby ID: 15645
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Conversion (official) Included in Special Edition

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Sid Meier returns to his roots with this remake of Sid Meier's Pirates!, his 1987 game about sailing the high seas in search of treasure. As in the original, you will plunder cities, sink enemy ships, and more. A plethora of different styles of gameplay will have you sneaking out of prison, dancing with the governor's daughter, engaging in real-time strategic combat, and a slew of others.

Sid Meier's Pirates! features a new 3D engine, but its style of stringing several minigames together to make a congruent game remains true to the original.


  • 大海盜 - Traditional Chinese spelling

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Credits (Windows version)

328 People (304 developers, 24 thanks) · View all

Associate Producer
Executive Producer
CEO of Firaxis Games
Lead Programmer
Tools Group Manager
Director of Technology
Lead Artists
Lead Animator
Additional Animation
Lead Character Modeler
Character Modelers
[ full credits ]



Average score: 81% (based on 67 ratings)


Average score: 4.1 out of 5 (based on 107 ratings with 4 reviews)

Excellent remake of a memorable classic

The Good
The addictive gameplay of the original 80's classic remains intact. In my opinion that's the most important thing that needs to be said about this remake. The general premise, the selectable nations, the layout of the cities, the travelling on the map of the Caribbean, the separate ship-to-ship combat, the dueling, capturing, sinking and plundering, the pirate "feeling" ... it's all there. And more. Unlike with some other remakes, everything that was added to the original concept really fits in. Such as having to actually dance with the gouvernor's daughters in order to enamour them, or being forced to literally sneak into a fortified town bearing the flag of an opposing nation, the Aztec villages and war canoes, the small, unfortified settlements, the abbeys, the pirate hideouts, the unique items, ... nothing feels off, nothing breaks the fun. My biggest quirk with the original Pirates! was the lack of variety when it came to ships. And this issue has sure been addressed. Now, there are TONS of new ship types, though most of them are essentially variants, such as the Sloop of War or the Royal Galleon. Still, there's nothing like capturing one of the rare "Ship of the Line"'s and making the whole Caribbean tremble with fear by utilizing the 48gun-400crew-but-still-lightning-fast monster for plundering. And it almost feels like they really tremble. Everything feels "alive". Treasure ships are frequently escorted, forcing you to deal with two enemies in a single battle. Promotions have actual effects, such as getting ship repairs for free. The nations wage war on each other (or declare peace), regardless what you do, causing cities to switch allegiance without your interference. If you cause too much trouble to any nation, they'll put a price on your head. Pirate hunters will then depart cities to hunt you down once you are sighted attacking yet another hapless merchant vessel ... and a lot of more things that can't ALL be mentioned here. ;) One final note: this game was shipped with a very low amount of bugs, which cannot be said about every game released these days. In fact, after sailing the seas for several decades, I have yet to run into one severe enough for me to even notice it. Finally a game with good QA once again.

The Bad
The ability to attack cities from seaside was scrapped, which isn't too good in my book. Also, in the original game, it felt like the whole Caribbean was crawling with pirates, maybe some remember how the copy protection itself required the player to successfully identify one out of the plentiful selection of pirate captains. Sadly, this is a thing of the past. Now there's the "Top 10 Pirates", which includes yourselves, resulting in a mere nine other "named" pirates travelling the seas - and that's it. And besides the named ones, it can be pretty quiet out there - but this depends on the difficulty setting and era, too. Furthermore, players of the original Pirates! will most likely have strong memories of trips to the central-american coast, and the lengthy, unpleasant way back to the Windward Islands. These trips are still a chore. While this may reflect the actual weather conditions in this part of the world, it's still a bit unnerving. Also, if you make such trip to acquire some treasure of a pirate "colleague" ... the treasure hunts can be somewhat unrewarding. After paying 600 gold for the map itself and travel a vast distance to get to the loot, it ain't funny finding a mere 8000 gold and adding them to your existing 100 grand. And treasures can be even smaller than that.

The Bottom Line
Don't be fooled by the rather lengthy complaint-paragraph up there. I was merely nitpicking. :P This is a great game. It manages to bring the things that made it fun to play into the new millennium, which is exactly what a remake should do, but also the thing that most fail to achieve. Kudos to Sid Meier for creating yet another gaming landmark. Harr!

Windows · by Cadorna (219) · 2004

Memorable, addictive, fun.. I love it

The Good
Since I never knew what Sid Meier's games were like, I didn't know what to expect from this. What i received, was an experience that I had never seen before!

This has to be one of the most original games I have ever played; because it gives you a full simulation in what a pirate's life is like. It also puts in elements that you wouldn't even think of when making a game about the sea and yet, Sid Meier pulls it off pretty well.

Now the plot of the game is quite simple; you(as a young boy), end up with your family getting kidnapped by the horrible Marquis de la montalban. You manage to escape and ever since, you wish to defeat him and bring your family back. 10 years later, the new you starts the great journey on your own.

The game offers great graphics, wonderful music and several enjoyable mini-games that mostly involve the basics of being a pirate. You get to plunder ships and villages, defeat famous pirate mercenaries(including Blackbeard) and you also get to steal the hearts of the governors' daughters in the many different villages. The PERFECT simulation.

The Bad
What I didn't like was the fact that this game is extremely repetitive! The same characters say the same things and sometimes, do the same things too. For example, you have to keep on attacking the same man named Baron Raymondo just in order to get more information where your family members are.

The game can also be really unfair on you; at one point i was fighting against another ship with the same the same size and i was fighting with 58 people in my crew. When i finally started to hijack the ship, only of my crew decided to fight. Undoubtedly, i lost in this bit.

There thankfully isn't much else to complain about the game.

The Bottom Line
Sid Meier's Pirates is a wonderful title that you should consider getting. Not only is it worth your money, it is also worth your precious time as well.

A lot of games should be made like this, because this one in particular, has qualities in which i had never seen before. And that is why this game is one of my favourites!

Windows · by Arejarn (7353) · 2009

I for one look forward to more games like this...har...har...har

The Good
I've played Sid Meier's Pirates! ever since the first time it came out...which seemed like eons ago and I recall never have been disappointed by any of the 2 series I've played. Make that 3 series I've played...:)

One of the best thing's about playing new games or specifically new remakes of a game it the anticipation of never knowing what you'll get. I got this game from a recommendation of a friend in addition to already familiar with the series, I thought I knew what to expect.

Egad, boy was I wrong...and a good one at that too.

I remember the first time I played it. I was blown away by the smooth graphics. I admit, this is probably the first time in a long time since I didn't have anything "bad" to say about 3D graphics. If games like this game are the future of graphics in games...I take back every load of crap I said about 3D graphics and look forward to each similar game.

Sid Meier keeps bringing Pirates! into more detailed perfection. Graphically, it's almost perfect. This coming from a guy who detested 3D graphics with the utmost.

Sound was amazing (though I hate the fact about human nature, you don't get amazed the second time around). I remember being astounded that your crew cheers every time you make a good number of cannon hits to enemy ships. The sounds of waves, the ship moving, creaks on the ships, all that background sound mumbo-jumbo certainly hit its mark.

The music really gave you the sense of the "pirate" spirit. The atmosphere of the sea was there. It really helped with the game subtitle (which by the way isn't on the main title...needs correcting) "Live the Life". Though I was expecting the song "What shall we do with the drunken sailor..." or maybe I missed it? Har...har.

Game play was amazing (also the first time around). Ship battles didn't change much, although greatly improved via graphics and sound effects.

Speaking of game play, have to go back to the issue of graphics by the way, which has to do with game play.

Egad! I thought this was more of a movie than a game! There are a lot of animations in this game which are astounding. The great thing is, a lot of the animations are part of the game play, especially during fencing. Normally, animations and game play to my experience were 2 different issues. Normally, when you provoke an action, a continuing animation-film like comes into display. Here, specifically in fencing, the animation is part of the game play! Egad! Genius, pure genius.

Back to game play, the fencing combat when you board the ship was probably the best, or one of the best aspects of the game. You've got combo's and stuff, making this a really neat "arcade game" to some extent. Tricky, if not dang irritating the first time around, it gets easier after you've discovered the trick of fighting. I also noticed detailed features like your crewmen fighting. The more men you have, the more crew are "fighting" in the background, as well as how damaged a ship is. I've noticed this since once I purposely killed (or let die) all my crew, and when I won (me a skilled fencer of course, ahem) saw myself (the character) cheering at shipmates that didn't exist on the deck (usually there were some shipmates cheering you on). Kinda funny looking at your character cheering himself alone, eh?

The game also has additional "funny" features like ballroom dancing, which took me completely by surprise. Funny that this game has a dancing game in it. This game really requires some quick reactions. Kinda reminds me of TOEFFL English tests on listening. Dang, western capitalists...uh...never mind.

Last but not least, the game came with an (almost) complete Pirateopedia, a very welcome surprise with some very funny entries in it.

The Bad
Each masterpiece has its faults, and this game is not excluded.

The first thing that irritated me was how difficult fencing was. That later didn't become a problem, but in some situations, the opponent fights so fast it's almost ridiculous. Feels like you’re playing Matrix, but can't do the fast moves...but the other guy can. Really needs fixing, I fighting chance I understand, super lighting speed is just pure irritating.

On that notion, games like this should've required some sort of tutorial. I restarted 2 times in this game before finally realizing how the hell to fight in fencing.

Next would be the "trading" details. Unfortunately in this game, they messed up big time when in games to trading. The other Pirates! games had it right, where you could become a trader. In this game, it's impossible, yes, impossible to become a trader as a serious main occupation, which is supposedly the prime occupation of the Dutch Nation. It's impossible because even the biggest cities never seem to have enough gold when you bring in expensive merchandise; I've noticed the most money you can get is around 2000 gold pieces, not very comforting when you bring in 10000 gold pieces worth of merchandise. Sure you can, go out of port in enter again (after failing 2 time entering in short term notice, probably to prevent mistaken re-entry’s), but each time you enter a port, I've noticed it takes away 1 week from your schedule, besides entering the same port more than once is quite irritating and useless.

Still on that subject, in its previous game, a cities prosperity and wealth is usually related to your trading with that city. You buy and sell stuff in that city, the city gains prosperity. They've taken away that aspect, where you need to escort a new governor to the city. This involves a lot of ship battles. In fact, this game seems to focus a lot on fighting, a little too much. Which is really bad at times, sometimes you just don't want to go through tireless ship battles and just want to trade peacefully without those dang pirate hunters up your rear end. A serious miscalculation from the game creators in this aspect.

Ship prices are also ridiculous. I'm trying to comprehend how a badly damaged ship can only cost 10 gold pieces and a new ship even with upgrades can cost only 500-1500 gold pieces. It's odd since a single item of merchandise can cost 20 gold pieces (which is probably just a dang lamp) but can cost more than a ship. I was also expecting the possibility to create ships like in the game "Uncharted Waters", but didn't see that happening.

Another aspect where I was greatly disappointed was during ship battles. I expected my fellow ships to enter combat with me. Not happening. It's just of your ships against a maximum of 2 enemy ships. It was a big disappointment because the assumption created in the first mission where the governor asks you to attack an enemy port, while sending a ship there so you could "tag along", thus I assumed you would help in a single sea battle where you and your allied ship would attack another enemy ship together. I assumed wrong, pissed greatly I recall.

They also took away your capability to attack an enemy port. In other Pirates! games, you could attack an enemy port with your ship, thus a sea battle between your moving ship and a not moving enemy bastion filled with guns, ending you boarding the castle in fencing combat.

Winds are still irritating, though probably realistic, but not moving from your spot in 1 week due to wind issues really triggers some nerves. The wind strength isn't visually very clear whether or not it's strong or weak. Water currents like in Uncharted Waters would greatly help game play, where you don't just have to rely on wind speed to get that dang ship moving.

Meeting governors in this game was really irritating. Me, I would like to meet governors just to accept missions, or receive missions, or just meet the governors daughter without getting a promotion (for retiring purposes of wealth). You can't do that in this game, you will automatically get a promotion from the governor, even if you don't want to. I vaguely recall it previous Pirates!, you can only get a promotion from a governor that gave you the letter or marquee or received a mission, thus you are free to visit other governors from the same nation without fear of getting a promotion, and thus collecting more acres of land with each promotion (my record is 7000 acres on a single promotion, at that was only to the rank of captain!) Viva la France!

Last but no least, the greatest error or somewhat disaster in the game is the lack of story in the game. I know it wasn't really meant to be an adventure game but the game really has potential to do so. After playing the game the 3rd time around, you really start to lose interest...fast. Been there, done that. No story. I have a "2" rating for the story, since it really don't have one worth mentioning. Save this relative, defeat that villain, find this treasure, that's it. No little more details in between. The intro cut scene was a great opener, I expected more storytelling during the game, but didn't find one. It was merely graphical. Really disappointed in this area.

The Bottom Line
Overall, this game comes highly recommended for some serious game play or just for some good laughs.

Windows · by Indra was here (20750) · 2005

[ View all 4 player reviews ]


Subject By Date
Title vedder (71281) Apr 4, 2015



Some sound-effects/video in Sid Meier's Pirates were re-used from previous Civilization games., One example includes when your character swings on a rope aboard a ship. The yell he makes is actually the yell an Archer makes in Civ III when he gets promoted. Another example is one of the ballroom dancing pieces that's played. It happens to also be a track used in Civilization III: Conquests.


  • Computer Games Magazine
    • March 2005 - #2 Game of the Year
  • Computer Gaming World
    • March 2005 (Issue #249) – Arcade Classic of the Year
  • GameSpy
    • 2004 – #10 PC Game of the Year
    • 2004 - Old Skool Award (PC)

Information also contributed by PCGamer77


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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by Zack Green.

Xbox One added by Plok. Xbox 360 added by karttu. iPhone added by Sciere. Wii, Windows Phone added by Kabushi. iPad added by Pirou Julien. Xbox added by DGackey. Macintosh added by Zeppin.

Additional contributors: Rebound Boy, Jeanne, Rambutaan, Corn Popper, Zeppin, Paulus18950, Patrick Bregger.

Game added November 25, 2004. Last modified July 15, 2024.