Monday, Nov. 29, 2004


Back in 1987, the best way to waste time on a Commodore 64 computer was to play the part of a grog-swilling buccaneer in the 17th century Caribbean: getting rich on plunder or trading among British, Spanish and French ports and trying to marry one of the governors' daughters before you retired.

Now Sid Meier's classic has been given a 21st century makeover. Meier has added lush new 3-D graphics and a host of minigames within the game. You can try your hand at sword fighting or sneaking into a hostile town at night. Wooing the governor's daughter now involves dancing the right steps at a society ball.

Best of all, Pirates! (for PC; $49.99) still lets you play exactly the way you want to, turning the entire Caribbean into your own giant sandbox. It's the closest thing to a gamer's island paradise.

Ideal for: Scurvy sea dogs and swashbucklers