50 MMOs in 50 Days #36: Pirate101

Last played: 2014
Experience: Extensive

Avast! No reason for that, I just like saying “avast!”

I like Pirate101 better than KingsIsle’s other offering for a few reasons. First, it uses more of a board-game-like mechanic as opposed to Wizard101‘s card-game system, which is a little flawed, in my opinion (and I’ll get to in, oh, 13 days), and I generally prefer board games to card games.

Regardless of the mechanics, it just seems to me that Pirate101 is a bit more polished and shiny than Wizard101, if only because KingsIsle learned their lesson with the first game and were able to improve upon their formula with their second. The cut scenes, done up like semi-animated puppet shows, leave me howling.

Picture 2012-11-14 17-27-32As for the things I don’t like… that would have to be primarily naval combat. Unlike the rest of the gameplay, it’s the tiniest bit reflex-based, which might be why they wanted to make it as simple as possible, so as not to be too difficult for its younger players, but it strikes me as exceedingly dull. That is, impressively, not the case with the rest of their gameplay, which has some fights that even test my skills as a super-uber-leet gamer. Naval combat just seems very “tacked-on” because they felt they needed ship-to-ship combat, but there wasn’t time to do much with it.

Oh, wait, something else I don’t like… KingsIsle, please put invert camera in your games. Seriously. I can handle it a little better than in most games because there’s no twitch factor involved but it’s still annoying as all get-out. I even asked in person when I visited their offices four years ago.

Nothing to do with video games… but speaking of pirates versus wizards, I once heard an anecdote from a game store owner about how a woman brought her young son into the store. The son wanted to buy Magic: The Gathering cards, but his mother forbade it because it “was all about the occult.” You know, because magic and Satan and all that. Instead, she picked up some packs of 7th Sea – a pirate-themed CCG – and bought that for her son. So, to recap:

Game based on magic, dragons, orcs, and other things that don’t exist = bad for your child.

Game based on murderers, rapists, and thieves that did (and still do) exist = good for your child.

Got it.

Ultimately, Pirate101 is a game very few readers of this blog have probably played because it’s looked at as a “kids” game, and it’s dwarfed in numbers and popularity by a game made by the exact same company. As successful as Wizard101 is, I wonder if it could ever have been successful by going after essentially the same players. I know KingsIsle is working on another game, and I hope they’ll be able to branch out a bit and create something to draw in a new batch of players.

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