Looking Back to 2011 – the Jolly Roger Japes of LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

Xbox One

I have to admit a sneaky like for the Pirates of the Caribbean films, and even though I realise it’s hard to like too much about Johnny Depp, I still enjoy his turn as Captain Jack Sparrow; one of the most iconic celluloid pirates ever captured on film. The way he talks, the way he acts, even the way he walks, are all a good portion of what makes the whole series of films enjoyable. So, imagine my joy when, way back in 2011, we heard that Traveller’s Tales were developing a LEGO game based around the whole franchise. The game was developed and released in order to tie in with the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides, the latest in the film series, with the action found in-game based around the first four films. 

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean

It was in May of 2011 when those pirate related dreams came true. Traveller’s Tales have always, since the very first LEGO games, been able to capture the spirit and the character of any of the protagonists with just subtle gestures, not even needing dialogue in the first few games. The first LEGO Batman and the first LEGO Star Wars, and all since then, have allowed the mannerisms of the movie stars to be brought to life in a small piece of plastic. And so it was the case here with LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean giving us the chance to take control of Captain Jack for the first time. It was a joy, as his expressions and, more importantly, his walk had been captured perfectly, shrunk down and then placed into the game and the grateful hands of players. Admittedly, the spoken dialogue was nothing more than the occasional grunt and groan, but still playing as Will or Captain Jack himself felt very real and completely authentic. 

The video game was based around Port Royal, which acted as the hub for the adventure. As you completed missions and stories from the films, the Port got bigger, and extra parts were added to allow you access to other areas. Each of the films featured completely different areas, and so it is similar in the game, with the addition of also being able to unlock new characters. In fact, a tiny bit of deja vu may have crept in, as the mechanics of LEGO Pirates are almost a carbon copy of the earlier games from Traveller’s Tales. 

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean Xbox

Each character has a special power that needs to be used to solve immediate problems, but once a level is completed, it can be replayed with other LEGO mini-figs than were intended, allowing you to open up new areas and go about attempting to collect all of the ships in bottles that are hidden in each level. As an example, in the first stage, Captain Jack can use his compass (the same one that is in the films, that shows him where the thing he desires is) to find hidden objects in the sand, which can then be dug up by passing control to the guard dog figure, who has the dig ability. By contrast, Will can throw axes at targets to trigger switches, and characters such as Davy Jones can walk and breathe underwater. As is traditional in LEGO games, female characters, such as Elizabeth Swann, can jump higher than male ones, and in Pirates there was a handy double jump that lets them reach areas out of the reach of others.  

The real joy for me, with all of the LEGO games, is the way that even fairly scary material, like the crew of the Black Pearl turning into undead by moonlight, is handled in a way that makes it suitable for the younger gamer. Before my son started out on his journey to – what he believes – is a career as a pro Destiny 2 player, we spent a lot of time playing co-op games, and besides Skylanders, the LEGO titles were firm favourites. He’s never seen the films, but every kid knows about pirates, and so he dived on in willingly, and this became one of our go-to father and son bonding moments. Of course, by the time he was old enough to hold a controller and actually make sense of what he was doing, relating the movement of the characters on the screen to the inputs he was making with the controller, we had upgraded from the original Xbox 360 to the Xbox One. Luckily, the game was added to Backward Compatibility pretty early, and so we were able to play together. 

LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean Xbox 360

And better still was the fact that the same “drop in, drop out” multiplayer from the earlier LEGO games was still there, so when he inevitably got bored, the AI could take over and fill in the role when a switch needed two inputs. All in all, it was LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game from back in 2011 that had a strong influence on the gaming development of my son, and his self awarded “pro gamer” status is owed in large part to playing with the old man. 

So, these are my memories of playing LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game from back in 2011. How about you guys out there? Did you play it on release? Have you since played it as a Backwards Compatible title? Did you play with your children, or your parents? Let us know in the comments!

Whether you have played LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game or not, if you’re looking to grab a digital copy for yourself, head to the Xbox Store. And if you want a physical copy, Amazon will be your best bet.

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