Where are the really good pirate games?
I have always had high hopes for an open ended pirate game to fulfill all those desires that were influenced by movies, books, and other medium showcasing the exploits and adventures of a pirate. Sailing the seven seas, making a captured captain walk the plank, or leading a ship to search for buried treasure are countless exploits I wish to partake in gaming.
Just think of the possibilities for an open-world pirate game. Ports that could act as hub worlds, customization of your character and ship, a slew of quests and mini-games to obtain from the taverns; the list goes on and on.
That's not to say there are not some great pirate games out there, just not the games I would typically be addicted to playing hours on end. While the Monkey Island series satisfies in a great environment, the game play is tailored to a point and click aspect. Sid Meier's pirates gets even closer to what I come to expect, but the heavy focus on top-down strategy and distance from the action is not what I envision.
The closest example of a game that captured part of what I was looking for was found in the most unexpected of places; a Zelda game. The Legend of Zelda: The Wind Waker gave a satisfying feeling as you threw up the sail and followed the wind to your next destination, charting the seas as you go. There was no cinematic or loading screen to act as a buffer for travel, just you sailing off at your leisure. Even in long trips I would zoom to an over-the-shoulder view just for the unique perspective from the deck as Link bounced across the waves with an island in the distance.
Ship to ship battles would be a must. I have yet to experience a legitimate fight over the high seas with canons firing, ships side by side with crewman boarding the opposing ship, and sword fights erupting on the deck. The closest experience I have had with this was the Gunship Battle in World of Warcraft. During an encounter before the Lich King, you do battle with an opposing faction's gunship. Some players jetpacked over to the opposing ship to battle on the deck while others manned cannons and defended the ship. It was a team effort that ultimately gave an enjoyable experience.
Whether it is a pirate themed stage on Banjo Kazooie or the visit to The Pirates of the Caribbean universe in Kingdom Hearts II, each game seems to feed that desire I have to experience a really stunning pirate game. The pieces are there, we just need a developer to throw it all together. I want a game to run to the next time I watch a really good pirate movie...