Arrrr, Matey! To celebrate International Talk Like A Pirate Day, I thought I would take this here opportunity to direct you to an excellent downloadable game that's been entertaining gamers of all ages for a couple of years: Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates, created by 3 Rings Design.
Available for Mac, PC, and Linux, Puzzle Pirates is a massively multiplayer online game world in which players take to the high seas to compete for pirate booty. As with many MMOGs, a persistent world and player-driven economy provide enough challenge and depth to satisfy a wide spectrum of gamer, from the casual minded to the hardcore. And while there are plenty of locales to visit and explore on foot, most of the action takes place aboard a vessel on the high seas playing... wait for it ...puzzle games! =)
A ship needs plenty of crew members to win the right to pillage other ships on the ocean. Lucky for you, finding one that will take you on is only as difficult as finding the town's local missions board and clicking a button. Once aboard, make your way to one of the ship's various duty stations to do your part and prepare for battle!
Many of the puzzle games in Y!PP resemble familiar casual games like Tetris and Bejeweled, and are just as accessible to begin having fun with quickly. The bilging station, for example, performs the unenviable yet essential task of bailing water from the ship as it sails. Bilge pumps allow a ship to travel faster by removing the weight of the water that it takes on while sailing, which would otherwise slow it down. The puzzle game it provides is a simple one of swapping puzzle pieces to line up 3 or more of the same color, which then eliminates them from play. It's a never ending, tedious, and rather dull game, very much in theme with the duty being performed, and yet is a good place to start for a young or brand new adventurer looking to get into the swing of things.
When finally engaged in battle with another ship, the display will switch to the Swordfighting game where a team battle commences between the crews of the two ships. In a Swordfight, colored blocks fall with shapes of swords upon them. There are two types of blocks: solid and shattering "breaky block" pieces that cause all same-colored blocks it touches to shatter in a chain-reaction, and then disappear from your play field. And since this is a team battle, the blocks you eliminate from play in your game are sent to a member of the opposing team. If your play field fills up completely, you are eliminated. The first team to have all of their crew eliminated loses and gets pillaged by the victors.
And I have only just touched the surface of what Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates offers in terms of gameplay. To help you out, refer to this page for details about the many games that you can play.
The game is built in Java, and there is a 30-day free trial available for anyone who might want to give this delightful and truly unique twist on the MMOG genre a try. Once inside, thar be plenty of opportunity to engage in a little swashbuckling role-play, thus giving you an outlet for Talk Like a Pirate Day! Click.
Update: The folks at Yohoho have recently had a change of heart and although there are still subscription 'oceans' there are now 2 free oceans that allow you to either buy doubloons with a credit card, or acquire them using in-game currency. Therefore, purchases are optional and not required for full free participation in all aspects of the game. [Thanks, Barbara! and Mon! ]