IFReviewed by Tom Zuchowski on 2006-05-13 09:27
Reviewer’s Rating: 9
Difficulty Rating: 9
Extra Commands: PAY, GAMBLE, STATUS, DIG, PACE, SEARCH, SELL, VOYAGE
Special Features: Two-disk adventure; SAVE to an extra diskette; voyaging on the open sea.
Playing Time: 10-20 hours
Description: “It promises to be an exciting day in Evenhold. The pirate Henri Le Marque, scourge of the Malphigian Sea, is slated for execution today. The execution will take place at the jail yard in the harbor district. In case the hanging isn’t enough of a lure, Le Marque was the most successful pirate of the Malphigian Sea, and reputed to have hidden a king’s ransom in booty. Perhaps, when faced with the gallows, he will make the grand gesture of sharing what he won’t be able to enjoy.”
“Be on your best behavior, because the harbor patrol is accustomed to dealing with waterfront scum. If you want to scrap with someone, be sure that you are in a very private place; a place where no one will summon the watch.”
Comments: Pat Hurst has shaped up as one of the best Eamon authors of all time. His puzzles are tough, his reasoning tight, his stories consistent, and his descriptions are so rich with detail that they are generally two-disk adventures. Buccaneer! is no exception. It is a two-part adventure, one part to a disk, and each disk is jammed to the limit with detailed descriptions, scores of special effects, and special programming.
The first part of Buccaneer! involves your escapades in the harbor district of Evenhold. There is no specific quest here, but there are dozens of things to get involved in. You can drink, fight, gamble, steal, get arrested, get shanghaied, bribe your way into places you don’t belong, attend the hanging of Henri Le Marque, make business deals, hire a ship, crew it, prepare for a sea voyage, and many other things as well. The general idea is to pick up some clues about the whereabouts of Le Marque’s treasure, and prepare to put to sea in search of the treasure in part two. It even appeared possible to set yourself up in business as a smuggler or freebooter.
Part two is actually a completely separate adventure, with its own MAIN PGM and text files. There is a transfer of information from part one, so that part two uses the ship, crew, and artifacts that you obtained in part one. Part two is an adventure on the Malphigian Sea, in which you can sail to a half-dozen islands in search of treasure and adventures. There is a lot that can happen while on the high seas, including encounters with merchant ships, pirates, naval vessels, sea monsters, uncharted reefs, storms, and mutinies. How well you fare will depend on how complete your preparations were in part one. Every island is unique; a mini-adventure in its own right. The sea is not structured into rooms, but allows you to sail where you will; also, the sea is quite large and requires expert navigation.
The seagoing adventure is unique in its execution. The effects are very good, and the ship-to-ship battles are very well done and full of surprises. It is not difficult to get yourself killed on some of the islands, but Pat has made it very easy to restart part two without needing to return to part one or perform a SAVE.
My first impression of Buccaneer! was that I was smothering in detail. It is very richly described, with most descriptions running to 10-12 lines, and takes a bit of play to familiarize yourself with things before you can begin to really figure them out. It is not an adventure that you casually sit down to and expect to get anywhere quickly. I had to make pages and pages of notes and maps before I had learned enough in part one to take a shot at part two. It takes a lot of thought to figure out how you want to go about the sea voyage. There are eight ships to choose from, ranging from a small felucca with a crew of 4 (good for smuggling?) to a huge packet ship with 12 guns, 3 officers, and a crew of 24. You have 50 or 60 prospective crewmen to choose from, and each is a distinct person, with differing abilities and morals. You will need to select officers if your ship requires them. If you choose to ship cargo for trading in the islands, you will need to determine which of the many merchants you wish to deal with. And you must be certain that you have obtained everything that you need for the voyage, from grog for the crew’s morale to materials to repair damage at sea.
This was a very enjoyable adventure, and all the more satisfying for requiring a great deal of thought and careful decision among the many options. However, it was an expensive undertaking; I had to spend nearly 20,000 in gold to outfit my ship and put out to sea. I found less treasure than that and actually had a net LOSS of 6,000 by the end of the adventure, an experience that must be nearly unique in the history of Eamon.