Shiver Me Pixels: The 10 Best Pirate Games Ever Made

So, it’s all but confirmed that the next Assassin’s Creed will be pirate themed, which should have you pretty excited. Why? Well for one, pirates are rad, and two, pirate themed games are almost always good. I’m not sure why, but the rum-soaked scallywags just seem to translate well to video games.

Assassin’s Creed IV: Black Flag won’t be arriving until later this year at the earliest, so to hold you over here are the 10 best pirate themed games made to date…

10) Goof Troop

What? Goof Troop? Yup, for whatever reason this game based on the Disney cartoon series went with a pirate theme. Like most Capcom-produced Disney games from the 90s, Goof Troop is way better than it needs to be.

Fun fact, this was the first game designed by Shinji Mikami, the guy who would go onto create Resident Evil, Dino Crisis and tons of other good stuff. The game actually has a vaguely Resident Evil-ish feel at times — the game is full of puzzles, the items you use to fight enemies are very limited and Goofy spends most of his time crashing through windows to attack STARS agents. Okay, maybe not that last one.

9) Tropico 2: Pirate Cove

The Tropico games are management sims in which you rule a small tropical island with an iron fist. Think SimCity or Civilization except smaller scale and lot less high-minded.

The second Tropico game diverged somewhat from the rest of the series — instead of playing a tin-pot dictator, you take on the role of pirate king. This game is a rather different take on the whole pirate thing — rather than focusing on swashbuckling adventure, the game is basically about playing den mother to all the pirates and “captives” (let’s be honest, they’re slaves) living on your island. All in all, a unique and easy to get into little strategy/sim title.

8) Zack & Wiki: Quest for Barbaros’ Treasure

One of the Wii’s best original titles, Zack & Wiki may have the look of a harmless platformer for kids, but it’s actually a wickedly hard old-school adventure game at heart. The game’s decidedly wacky, Japanese-ey take on the pirate genre is also a lot of fun.

7) Donkey Kong Country 2: Diddy Kong’s Quest

The evil Kremlings from the Donkey Kong Country games were always supposed to be pirates (I think?) but developer Rare really went all-out with the theme for the second game in the series. It’s hard to find an enemy that isn’t wearing a pirate hat or waving a cutlass in this game.

Donkey Kong Country 2 was always my favorite game in the series. The third game was uninspired and the first was a bit basic, but Donkey Kong Country 2 hit the Pirate-ey, hair-flying sweet spot.

6) The Curse of Monkey Island

Hey look, the first Monkey Island game on the list! It won’t be the last.

The Curse of Monkey Island was the first game in the series released after Ron Gilbert parted ways with LucasArts, so a lot of hardcore fans gave it the cold shoulder, but it really is a very good game. Its hand-animated graphics are fantastic, it was the first game in the series to feature voice acting, and it’s probably the outright funniest of the Monkey Island titles. Don’t overlook this often forgotten entry in the series.

5) Sid Meier’s Pirates!

Sid Meier’s Pirates! takes a more down-to-earth approach than most Sid Meier games — it’s less a god game than it is an open-world adventure. There, of course, is a lot of complex strategic stuff going on in the game, but there’s also plenty of action and random fun miscellania like dancing competitions and marriages to governor’s daughters to keep you busy. Really, Pirates! is probably the most accessible, widely appealing game Sid Meier has ever made.

Sid Meier’s Pirates! has been remade a number of times, but probably the best, and easiest to find, version is the 2004 remake, which was released for pretty much every platform under the sun.

4) The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker

Controversial and widely derided at the time of its release, The Wind Waker has thankfully been re-evaluated in recent years and is now considered by many to be one of the best Zelda games ever. Gorgeous cell-shaded graphics, the most emotionally involving story in the series, a great sense of freedom and adventure — The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker has a lot going for it.

Never played the game? You may want to wait until later this year when Nintendo is set to release a new HD remake of the game for the Wii U.

3) The Secret of Monkey Island

The first Monkey Island game changed the adventure genre forever. The Secret of Monkey Island’s unique world was wonderfully detailed and well-realized, and the game ushered in the “LucasArts” style of adventure game, in which the focus is on complex puzzles and interesting characters and stories instead of dodging deathtraps. Everything about this game was amazingly ahead of its time and the game remains remarkably playable today, over 20 years later.

2) Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge

So yeah, Monkey Island 2: LeChuck’s Revenge does everything the first Monkey Island did, except better. It looks better, sounds better, its puzzles are more complex and it’s funnier. Weirder too, but then I actually like the game’s strange twist ending.

1) Skies of Arcadia

Yeah, believe it or not, I’m giving the top spot to a non-Monkey Island game — Skies of Arcadia is just that good. An RPG set in a world of floating islands and air pirates, everything about this game is just so darn likeable. The characters, the world, hell, even a lot of the enemies are pretty loveable. This is one of those video game worlds you just wish you could live in.

Aside from all that, the game was massive, varied and visually mind blowing for its time. The fact that we’ll almost certainly never get another Skies of Arcadia may the video game thing that makes me the saddest.

So there you go, 10 pirate games, all of them very worthy of your time. Think I missed any? Hit the comments and let me know.