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by Robin Johnson profile


Web Site

(based on 12 ratings)
2 reviews

About the Story

Who doesn't love pirates? Who, that is, apart from the British, the Spanish, the French, the Dutch, innkeepers, crocodiles, flying children, other pirates, merchant seamen with valuable cargoes of gold and rum, sharks, and SCURVY LANDLUBBERS?

A puzzly adventure with the feel of a classic parser game carried in a point-and-click interface.

Game Details


Nominee, Best Setting; Nominee, Best Puzzles; Nominee, Best Implementation; Nominee, Best Use of Innovation - 2019 XYZZY Awards

18th Place - 25th Annual Interactive Fiction Competition (2019)

Editorial Reviews


Pirate adventures are a comfortable genre in interactive fiction, providing a convenient source for adventures and a setting that’s exotic but relatable. “Pirateship” is an choice-based adventure game takes advantage of the motif by providing an exceptionally smooth user interface for its exploration and puzzle-solving. ...
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The Gaming Philosopher

Pirateship is a classic adventure in which you explore a map, collect objects, use those objects to solve puzzles, and finally find a treasure. It doesn’t get much more classic than that, and the puzzles too feel very traditional.
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Number of Reviews: 2
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful:
Pirate-themed light puzzle comedy, December 11, 2019

Pirateship is a lighthearted, pirate-themed puzzle comedy with the feel of a classic parser game. It's not technically a parser game because it's built with Johnson's point-and-click Versificator development system, but its room-based geography and use-the-right-object-in-the-right-place puzzles very much fit the classic parser style.

Most, if not all, of the humor in Pirateship comes from playing with pirate tropes. Sometimes the comedic effect comes from subverting these tropes, and sometimes the tropes are carried to such extremes that you can't help laughing. For me, the game tended to walk a fine line between funny and silly, but occasionally it hit absolute comedy gold.

The puzzles range in difficulty from relatively straightforward to somewhat hard, which I think is the right range for this kind of game.

I found myself wishing for more emotional depth in Pirateship, though. I know the game is going for the feel of a classic parser comedy, and those kinds of games aren't generally noted for their extra emotional layers. But I can't help thinking that Pirateship could have done more here - and that that would have made it a better game. By way of contrast, Lost Pig is a great IF comedy not just because the prose is so often funny, but because (Spoiler - click to show)Grunk is oddly philosophical for a supposedly dumb orc, because the relationship between Grunk and the gnome is touching and a nice contrast of personalities, and because Grunk's blunderings actually serve as the catalyst for the gnome to make some changes to the lonely life he's been leading. The only layer in Pirateship beyond the laughs is its playing with pirate tropes (which, again, are the source of much of that comedy).

But I did enjoy Pirateship, and I think the game successfully does what it's trying to do. So, if you're looking for a light-hearted puzzle comedy with an old-school parser feel (but without the guess-the-verb frustrations of old-school parser games), or you just like pirates, you should give Pirateship a try.

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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful:
A rollicking pirate adventure game in Johnon's signature parser hybrid style, October 2, 2019
by MathBrush
Related reviews: about 1 hour

Robin Johnson is one of the best IF authors of the last few years, putting out games like Detectiveland and Zeppelin Adventure. These games, and Pirateship, use a parser-hybrid engine based off of Johnson's Versificator parser (used in games like the Xylophoniad).

This game doesn't reach the heights that Detectiveland did (which had 4 separate cases to work on), but it's a solid entry that will please fans of his previous games, and of puzzles in general.

You play as a pirate on an island that has a surprising number of inhabitants. There is a lot of conversation, and several complex mechanics (including a diving apparatus and a kind of pirate prosthetics lab). I used a walkthrough for a few of the trickier puzzles.

This game is polished, descriptive, has good interactivity, and I would definitely replay. It didn't draw me in emotionally, as I didn't really feel any kind of connection to the NPCs, or find an overarching story like Zeppelin Adventure. But this isn't a game looking to be deep; it's looking to entertain, and its succeeding. I debated on whether to give a 4 or a 5, but the primary purpose of my ratings on IFDB is to indicate the quality of a game compared to all other IF, and so I think a 5 is appropriate here. Compared to Johnson's other games alone, I would give this a 4.

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