The year is 2006, social media is just kind of taking off, but to a kid the best thing to do with a computer is play games. And if you don’t have a budget, chances are you’ll end up on miniclip.com. This site was a godsend to bored kids. There was a list on the top right side of the page that showed the top played games, and for a while one of them was Yohoho Puzzle Pirates.
What is Yohoho Puzzle Pirates?
Puzzle Pirates is an MMORPG released sometime in the 2000s. You play as a pirate in a world dense with activity: Want to build ships? Open a shipwright stall. Or maybe you just work for someone who’s already opened one. Or maybe you want to be a trader, moving material from island to island for a profit. Or perhaps you just want to be a regular old pirate – hop on a boat and waylay other ships and steal their goods. All of those things are possible (and many more), but heres the kicker – most of those activities have puzzles associated with them. The better you do at the puzzle, the more effective you execute that activity.
And I should note that these puzzles aren’t simple / boring activities. They’re diverse games that are difficult to master. Many of them revolve around getting long combos / strings. Think games like Tetris or Candy Crush. The puzzles aren’t just to take up your time (Like the mini-games in Among Us), they’re genuinely fun, interesting, and challenging (well at least most of them)
I consider this game to be sandbox. All islands, properties, boats, crews, etc, are owned and maintained by players. There are no real quests or game mechanics to tell you what to do. There is only the drive to earn Pieces of Eight (PoE). And of course, it’s always more fun if you’re doing it with others.
I don’t think it would be a prudent usage of my time to go through every puzzle, so I’ll just go over my top 3 puzzles, just to give a flavor of what the puzzles are like.
You’ve engaged in battle with a group of brigands. Eventually your boat grapples theirs, and the crews break out in a vicious brawl. One way this battle can happen is as a sword fight.
In a sword fight, colored pieces fall onto your board 2 at a time. Once in a while you’ll get a special colored piece, called a breaker. If that breaker matches the color of of of the regular pieces touching it, all pieces of they color touching it breaks (clears off the board). But the cooler thing is – the pieces you cleared get sent over to your opponent’s board (I’m fudging the description a bit).
When I was playing this game in my younger years I didn’t realize that having chains of breaks happen simultaneously causes a huge bonus (it multiplies the number of pieces that get sent over to your opponent). This is the case for most puzzles – it’s not just about clearing the board, but clearing it with style.
When you’re on a boat, it’s typically expected that you contribute to the function of the boat in some way. There’s all sorts of tasks you can carry out, but normally I head for a sailing station. In sailing, you’ve got certain patterns that you have to fill with the correct pieces as they come down (in joined groups of 2). Also if you get 4 in a row, they will be cleared.
Like sword fighting, a large part of the scoring is how many patterns you can complete in a chain reaction. You’re also rated on how quickly you complete things.
There are some tasks available for the landlubbers, and one of my favorites is Blacksmithing. Performing this puzzle usually results in you producing cannonballs (used during pillages) and swords (give you a certain edge in sword fights). This one’s pretty unique; there’s a grid of tiles, and each tile uniquely activates a new set of tiles. For example if the number on the tile you click is 2, then all of the tiles 2 hops away are able to be clicked. There are numbered pieces and chess pieces.
In this puzzle each tile needs to be clicked 3 times before it is completely cleared. The nice thing about this puzzle is that there is no time limit, you can just leisurely click away. The goal of the puzzle is to clear every piece.
A very large portion of assets & resources within this game are created and owned by players. And even very raw resources (like wood or iron) are generated at islands and then are shipped to other islands by players. All sorts of boats are owned by players, so are the islands, and the stores on the island. That island gets some tax revenue, but be wary; That island could be taken over by an enemy flag!
I’ve always liked running stalls (smaller versions of player owned shops), specifically blacksmith stalls, and recently I’ve been dinking with a furnisher (creates furniture for players houses)
In the blacksmithing stall (I currently have 2) I usually order cannon balls from my own shop and spend the time to make them. Once they’re done they can be “sold dockside” or, with no wait. I like to try and undercut my competition by finding deals on raw resources at other islands, and then shipping it in.
The furnisher stall is an absolute bear to run, but I sort of enjoy it. The reason is because there is a massive number of items you can produce, and a massive number of resources you need to stock. For each of those resources you need to set prices that you will buy and sell dockside, as well as how much you want to charge to use it for crafting. The overhead was very substantial to get my initial stock of resources. Still working to refine my process for this stall.
The most canonical thing you can do in Puzzle Pirates is a good old fashioned Pillage. Hop on a boat with your crew, and wait for the captain to chart a course. Then take your station; sailing, bildging, carpentry, gunning, or navigating. How well you are doing at the puzzles effect how well the ship is performing and how easy the puzzles are for others. For example, say your ship has a few cannonball holes in it. It’s up to the carpenters to patch that up, and the bildgers to take care of the water coming in.
While pillaging you can engage other ships in a sea battle (your captain takes the duty of steering the boat and calling the shots) and once you’ve grappled the boat, you engage in either a sword fight or rumble. You’ve got to win to get paid!
These days there’s also all sorts of other little random encounters that you’ll find to spice up the pillaging experience.
Why I Love It
I love Puzzle Pirates because the only goal is to get cash. I’ve always liked the pixel art graphics (though some may consider them dated). The game can be very collaborative with a decent sandbox feel. I specifically love engaging in the economy and digging into the depths of the market.
The player base for the most part is pretty chill and supportive – like me most of the players have been playing the game for years. The game has a certain charm to it that you won’t find anywhere else.
If you like a nice relaxing game that has layers of hidden complexity, something different from almost any other game on steam, I recommend checking out Puzzle Pirates.