Avast, Skyrates!

By Jim Rossignol on October 14th, 2007 at 12:18 pm.

That’s as in “sky” and “pirates”, you see. Not the best name perhaps, but Air Buccaneers was taken. Anyway, Skyrates is a flash-based real-time air-pirating and trading game, with furries flying fantasy aircraft around a series of floating islands. It’s one of those “dip into when you have time” online games, where you can leave your pilot flying and fending off pirates, and only attend to things when you have time. The flights, for example, are conducted in real time, so if you log onto the game while in flight you can deal with pirate attacks personally, but you might as well leave the game to conduct your business for you. Furthermore, if you’re AFK for an extended jaunt in the real world then you can simply leave your anthropomorphic air-chum to carry out the piloting instructions you’ve left for him. You can’t exactly pretend to be Porco Rosso, but the trading and bullet-dodging offers some intriguing depths nonetheless.

So the really annoying thing about Skyrates is that it’s got plenty of potential for fiddling and building up your character over time. It doesn’t really demand much of you – in fact you have to go off and do something else during the hour-long flights – and yet I’ve spent half the morning (that I’d intended to spend working very hard on tricky games-writing projects) setting up trade routes and trying to deal with pirates nicking my cargo. Although frustratingly incomplete, Skyrates is tipped up to the gills to stop you getting lost, and there’s even a map so that you can see what all the other players are up to. I can’t actually figure out if I’m enjoying it, I just feel… compelled. Subliminal Flash hypnotism plugin, I bet. But take a look for yourself.

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90 Comments »

  1. Darius K. says:

    I played this back when it was pre-pre-Beta or something like that. It was a fantastic game for me since I could spend literally 5 minutes a day on it. Also, the play-by-SMS functionality is pretty good.

  2. MindBrain says:

    Furries are Evil

  3. Nick (ReturnToNull) says:

    Eh, it’s not being delibriately furry and seems to be a serious project, so it’s not doomed. And now I can’t stop playing… Damn you ALL!

  4. Brybry says:

    While furries, as they have evolved into internet wise are evil, the basic idea of anthropomorphic animals is still friendly and can be fun. Redwall anyone? :)

  5. FaceOmeter says:

    I’m really hooked on this one… having a great time! Thanks Jim! You’ve brought a smile to the face of a small african child!

    And me

  6. Jack Colby says:

    Thanks for bringing this to light. I’m frightened by how much I’d be willing to pay to spend ten minutes a day living out my TaleSpin fantasies.

  7. Hugh says:

    Got me hooked very quickly! I blame you for grabbing so much of my free time! First it was Travian, and now this!

    (Except that the server appears to be down at the moment)

  8. Powerhaus says:

    This is too much fun.

  9. Miles says:

    Pretty good, but it should be more like TaleSpin

    (It seems me and Jack Colby were the only people on Earth who watched it)

  10. Tarlach says:

    I think Skyrates is an example of how productive the ‘furry’ fantasy genre can be when it actually has a coherent story universe to live in. To me, it seems that a lot of the weird things that the ‘furry fandom’ gets associated with are just a product of the boredom that comes from not having such a story universe to work with.

    For those open-minded individuals who opt to try this game, you’ll be rewarded by a surprisingly deep story and a masterfully-crafted game interface. The ‘furry’ stylistic element simply completes this game – otherwise it’d be way too comical, or else much too uptight.