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Pirates of the Barbary Coast - The Atari Times

Pirates of the Barbary Coast


Aye aye, Captain!
by Matthias Jaap

September 4, 2002
Pirates are a popular topic for computer game. Besides the famous Pirates! there were Plundered Hearts, Skull and Crossbones and ... Pirates. The latter is less known than the Microprose game although they have some things in common. The full game title is Pirates of the Barbary Coast.

The story is quite simple: your daughter has been captured by pirate Bloodthroat. He demands 50,000 gold coins to set her free. If you do not give him the coins after 30 days her life may be in danger.

You are both a trader and a pirate although it is wise at the start to concentrate on trading. The big harbours at North Africa's coast are great trading places. Each harbour has a master trader who will show you his ware house. Trading goods can be almost everything from tea to weapons. Unfortunately, not everything is cheap and if you have bad luck and buy expensive goods you may not be able to sell them for a higher price. Each harbour has a shop which is a wealth of information. Although each information costs money, it is much cheaper than compare prices via visiting each harbour. At the start you have 5000 gold coins.

Just like the more known Pirates! there is the option to fight enemies. You may encounter other pirate ships on your journey. If you manage to sink one of them you will gain information and treasure. Attacking a ship requires some skill as you have to set the cannon elevation. But the best cannon cannot fire without gunpowder which you have to buy, too. You have fifteen cannons on your ship. Each of them has to be loaded with the joystick (XL) or mouse (ST).

The harbours are also a place to repair the ship and buy food for the crew. It is therefore not that easy to earn enough gold coins. If there are less than 50,000 gold coins, the only option will be a hand-to-hand fight against the evil pirate.

The Atari XL version has good graphics although there are only a couple of images and few animation. The 16-bit conversion feels more like some early GFA-Basic games: the standard system font is used - although it would have been quite easy to use a custom one. The images look simple and remind a lot of similar games like "Hanse" and "Fugger". The sea is animated with a nice attempt to imitate parallax scrolling (waves in the front move faster than waves at the horizon).

The sound consists of a few chip sound tunes which tend to get annoying but trading games were never popular for their great music.

Of course this game suffered pretty much from its competition with Pirates! but the software company had the good idea to publish it for both the ST and XL. The ST version of Pirates! was delayed for a long time and was never programmed for the XL. Unfortunately, the ST Pirates of the Barbary Coast looks not as good as the ST version of Pirates! - maybe it was rushed out to avoid competition. Overall, this game can be a lot of fun if you are into trading games.

Ah! Finally we know what the game looks like!
You gotta fire the cannons if you expect to be a pirate!
You've got lotsa trading to do.
Here's the world map. What are those elephants doing?
Pirates of the Barbary Coast
System: Atari-ST
Publisher: Cascade Games
Genre: Strategy
Graphics Score: 61%
Sound & Music Score: 75%
Gameplay Score: 65%
Control Score: 75%

Final Score: 75%



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