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%% Usenet Review:  Pirates! Gold CD32                  By Brian S.Mogged %%
%%                                             (brian.s.mogged@uwrf.edu) %%
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PRODUCT NAME

        Pirates! GOLD CD-32


BRIEF DESCRIPTION

        A CD-32 strategy/action game of pirating and trading.  The game
takes place during the historical period of 1580-1700 in the Caribbean sea.


AUTHOR/COMPANY INFORMATION

        Name:           MicroProse
        Address:        The Ridge
                        Chipping Sodbury
                        Avon BS17 6AY
                        UK

        Telephone:      0454 329510


LIST PRICE

        I paid $44.95 (US).
        I do not know the list price of the product.


SPECIAL HARDWARE AND SOFTWARE REQUIREMENTS

        HARDWARE

                A CD-32.

        SOFTWARE

           None.


COPY PROTECTION

           None!

MACHINE USED FOR TESTING

        Commodore CD-32.


INSTALLATION

        No installation....  Just insert the disc into the CD-ROM drive, and
the game immediate loads.


REVIEW

        After owning a CD-32 for a few days, I decided that it was time to
buy another piece of software... for no man can live on Pinball Fantasies
alone.  Going to my almost local Amiga store, I found out that Liberation
(which was my first choice) was sold out.  Then I saw that they had Pirates!
GOLD.  Immediately, memories of the original "Pirates!" on the 64 and on the
Amiga went past my glazed eyes.  I Immediately bought it, and I went home as
fast as the speed limit allowed me and slid the disc into my CD-32.


BRIEF SUMMARY OF THE GAME

        For those of you who are not familiar with this game, here is a short
summary of what is about.  You are a pirate (of course).  The object of this
game is to retire with high social standing, having amassed a large
fortune.  How do you do this?  To acquire wealth, you sack towns and other
ships, and search for buried treasure.  To acquire social standing, you play
the game of politics with the governments in the game (England, France,
Holland, and Spain).  This might involve getting married to a governor's
daughter, doing missions for the government, and attacking that government's
enemies.


GAME CONTROLS

        Game controls in most place are very easy to get used to, and are
actually much easier than in the original game on the Amiga.  I think the
game makes effective use of the control without assigning ALL the buttons to
have individual functions.  Pirates! Gold duplicate most buttons' functions;
for example, the LEFT button on CD-32 control is the same as the RIGHT
button.  Control in combat has been reduced to three buttons for Parry,
Thrust, and Slash, plus the direction button.  This setup is much better
than the original Pirates! controls.


GAMEPLAY

        This game plays almost like PIRATES! for the Amiga.  The four skill
levels and four and six historical time periods still exist, giving the game
a varied feel.  Even at the same skill level and time period, enough random
events happen to make it feel different.

        Sword combat is still the way I've always liked it:  a button press,
a delay, and then a swing happens.  This is a very slow, almost
choreographed combat feel.  Ship-to-ship combat and ship-to-fort combat is
still set up so whoever has the wind and the guns has the advantage.  The
game interface, when not doing any combat specific activity, is simple:  move
your cursor over an item and highlight it.  It's very easy to get used to in
most incidents (see LIKES AND DISLIKES).


DOCUMENTATION

        Well at first I said to myself, "Great -- a 47-page document.  This
might mean it will have detail."  Nope:  it is 25 pages in English and the
rest of the manual is in German.  The manual's information is very limited.
It is enough to inform the beginner about the game, but not enough to
understand what is truly happening in the background of the game.  If you can
read the original Pirates! manual, I recommend it, for it gives much more
information on the game itself.

        But what I truly dislike about the manual is it is glued onto the
CD's box.  So to read the manual, you must have the CD box around.  I hope no
other CD-32 manufacturers do this practice -- it is just plain stupid.


LIKES

        What I like about this game is that the music and sound is very
good.  It gives the game a real "pirate feel."  The music does not interfere
with the sound effects but actually enhances it.  Way to go, MicroProse!

        I like that the CD version has nothing cut out from the computer
game.  I was afraid that the combat would change to more of a "slam the
joypad buttons as fast you can" type combat, but that fortunately did not
happen.  Anything that was in the computer game is still in this game.

        Once the game is loaded up, disc access is almost unnoticeable, music
changes quickly, and information is loaded at a fast rate, making for very
smooth and enjoyable gameplay.


DISLIKES:  ALL THAT GLITTERS IS NOT ALWAYS...

        Some of the graphics have been slightly degraded from the original
Amiga version.  In some places they are (*GASP*) dithered!  I wished they
would take some of the pictures from the original Amiga game and combine
them to make an almost perfect version of Pirates! GOLD.

        Another thing that annoys me is that you have to walk your character
in a town.  In the original Pirates! you could just pick from a pop up menu.
But now with the "advance" of technology, you have to control your character
and walk him to the location.  Making a quick stop at a town is now a long,
boring walk.

        THERE IS NO MAP OUTSIDE OF THE GAME!!!!  The map of the Caribbean
sea is inside of the game.  While that guarantees that you will never lose
the map, it also ensures you that it is will take you forever to find a spot
on that map.  For myself it would be much faster to look up the location on a
real (paper) map.

        Another complaint, not a limitation of Pirates! GOLD in itself, is
that you can have only one saved game in CD-32 Flash Memory.  This save takes
up 78% of flash memory; so if you know that a friend is coming over to play
Pinball Fantasies, MAKE SURE YOU LOCK THAT SAVE FILE IN FLASH MEMORY.  I
already have had my Pirates! GOLD save file erased once and I will never let
it happen again....


COMPARISON TO OTHER SIMILAR PRODUCTS

        It is natural to compare this game to Pirates! for the Amiga.
Pirates!  GOLD CD-32 has better sound most of the time, better interface,
better music, and a little better outside graphics.  Pirates! shines with its
better graphics overall.


BUGS

        Wow, no bugs that I can find.  I am in deep shock:  this is not the
MicroProse that I have known and loved. :-)


VENDOR SUPPORT

        I have not called up the vendor for any reason.  I have not had any
problems yet.


CONCLUSIONS

        Overall, I really like this version of Pirates!.  If you already own
the original Pirates! and just bought a CD-32 and are considering it, I would
say think a little more about it.  But for those people who have never
played one of the mind numbing versions of Pirates!, then this game should
be on your list, for this is one of MicroProse best game series and ranks up
there with Civilization.

        My rating is 4 longswords and 1 rapier out of 5 longswords.  (Four
and a half stars out of five.)