Much ado has been made recently about the alleged incoming reboot of the Pirates of the Caribbean film franchise. Aside from five films, swathes of merchandise and boatloads of movie-themed elements added to the source-attraction, Pirates has also brought along a multitude of video game tie-ins. We’ll be taking a look at some of the highlights, and a couple of low lights.
Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl (Gameboy Advance, 2003) and Pirates of the Caribbean (Xbox, PC, 2003)
Of these first two Pirates of the Caribbean video games, only the Gameboy Advance version tied-in with the release of the film by featuring Captain Jack Sparrow. The Xbox game had an original story about a pirate named Nathaniel Hawk. The pirate’s name wasn’t given until late in the game’s development, with it originally being titled Sea Dogs II, a follow-up, you guessed right, to Sea Dogs I. A tiny bit of voice work from Keira Knightley (Elizabeth Swan) is included and was the first of two games published by Bethesda, best known today for massive game series including The Elder Scrolls and Fallout.
Kingdom Hearts II (PS2 2005)
Along with much-improved combat, Kingdom Hearts 2 offered up a bevy of new worlds not seen in the first Final Fantasy/Disney crossover game. One of which was Port Royal, the now iconic island featured in Pirates of the Caribbean: Curse of the Black Pearl. Port Royal is set to make its retun in Kingdom Hearts III next year, hopefully…
Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow (PC, PlayStation 2, 2006)
Launching alongside the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest, The Legend of Jack Sparrow acts as both a recap of Curse of the Black Pearl and as prequel to Dead Man’s Chest. Beyond being poorly reviewed, it was the second and last Pirates game to be published by Bethesda.
The Legend of Jack Sparrow was developed by 7 Studios, which looking at their list of games, seemed to specialize in cheaper tie-in games covering a wide variety of licenses including Shrek, The Sopranos, and Six Flags (the amusement park) As their most recent game was published nearly a decade ago, it’s safe to say they are probably no longer around.
Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man’s Chest (DS, PlayStation Portable, Game Boy Advance, 2006)
Unlike their’s home console counterparts, handheld gaming consoles got a straight up adaption of Dead Man’s Chest. The DS and PSP both got somewhat mediocre 3D action games, while the Game Boy Advance in its old age received quite an excellent 2D Adventure platformer.
As mentioned the GBA version is something I consider to be a hidden gem of Pirates of the Caribbean games. Beyond fairly good action platforming and sword slashing, it featured an open ocean you sailed around to get between different islands and levels. Coins collected in the game could be used in towns to purchase upgrades for the Black Pearl, which was necessary for tougher ocean battles. As the last major 2D game system, Dead Man’s Chest offered a glimpse at what a Pirates of the Caribbean game would have looked like on Super Nintendo, had the movies come out a decade earlier.
Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End (DS, PS2, PSP, Wii, PlayStation3, Xbox 360, PC, 2007)
Unlike the previous movie, Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End got a video game adaption on pretty much every gaming platform at the time. There were essentially 3 different versions released. PS2, PSP, Wii, and PC all shared a linear adventure game. This one started off with Jack escaping prison (presumably the one he escapes from in a coffin in Dead Man’s Chest) and recaps the events of Dead Man’s Chest, while taking many creative liberties.
The Xbox 360 and PlayStation 3 offered up a much better-looking experience on the more advanced “next-gen” hardware. However, pretty as the visuals were they couldn’t do much to help the game escape the clutches of mediocrity.
The Nintendo DS version may have been the most interesting for its integration with the theme parks. Character costumes and various cheats could be accessed by bringing your DS to Adventureland or New Orleans Square in the parks.
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean (DS, PSP, 3DS, Wii, PS3, Xbox 360, PC, 2011)
LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is the best game on this list by far, excluding the Kingdom Hearts series of course. As far as LEGO games go, Pirates is one of the better ones. LEGO Pirates acts as a cute and blocky retelling of the first four movies, similar to LEGO Star Wars and the other dozen or so LEGO movie adaptions. The game also featured a long list of playable mini-fig versions of pretty much every main, side, and background character in the franchise.
Disney Infinity (Wii, 3DS, Wii U, PS3, Xbox 360, 2013)
The first in the trilogy of the Disney themed toys to life game, came with a Jack Sparrow Figure and Pirates of the Caribbean story mode in all starter packs. While the sword combat was fun, it was an annoyance having to use actual toys to swap characters, along with being rather expensive.
Before you leave a comment, I know I skipped over Pirates of the Caribbean Online. As the only MMO (Massively Multiplayer Online game) set in the Pirates of the Caribbean universe, I thought it would be better to save it for its own blog entry.
Which Pirates of the Caribbean video game is your favorite? Are there any games featuring Pirates of the Caribbean characters that we failed to mention? Let us know in the comments section!
(Screenshots copyright Disney, 7 Studios, Buena Vista Video Games, Disney Interactive Studios)
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