Casual games are fun, accessible and hard to put down, but let’s face it – they usually have so-so graphics, a lackluster story or music that sounds like it was more of an afterthought.
All of this is about to change with Bounty – Special Edition, a pirate-themed puzzle game with production values on par of those pricey CD-ROM games you buy at retail. From its interesting and lengthy story to the dozens of hand-drawn comic book pages to its orchestral music soundtrack, you can clearly see (and hear) how much time, talent and care was poured into this booty-filled adventure.
And talk about a treasure — there’s even a full song, Shiver Me Timbers, you can unlock if you finish the game!
Gamezebo climbed aboard to give our readers a special preview, so let’s set sail…
Before we get to the game-play, the story stars Mirabelle, who, on her 18th birthday, decides to leave the small island she grew up on to search for fun and adventure – and to pursue Captain Black Jack’s legendary lost treasure. Every few levels or so players will be treated to new comic scenes (86 pages in total) that unravel more of the tale, but without giving much away, Mirabelle and her motley crew, including her best friend Robert, discover more than they set out for.
OK, now let’s talk about what you actually do in the game.
Each level has a board on the screen with large "pieces" stacked one on top of another, say, four rows up and three across, totaling 12 pieces. These pieces vary depending on the theme of the level, such as rabbits, porcupines and grasshoppers in a tree level, or rats, beer steins and chamber pots in a tavern.
The objective is to clear all the pieces from the board. To do this, Mirabelle must kick a row so that the nearest piece to the left of it falls to the bottom of the screen. Only when three or more of the same pieces are aligned together at the bottom will they disappear. If the pieces don’t match they’re pushed back up onto the game board, which adds another row; when the pieces touch the top of the screen, you lose a life.
To add more pressure to completing this task, a timer counts down on the right-hand side of the screen.
Needless-to-say, there’s some strategy involved when choosing which piece to be kicked to the bottom – something players will develop after the first 20 levels or so (the game houses 140 in total).
Many power-ups will also be introduced over time, such as a wild card that can be any piece you like, another that lets you swap two pieces for a strategic advantage or one that adds a few more seconds to the countdown timer. Obstacles will also pop up, such as a stone piece that cannot be used to make a match or locked pieces that cannot be moved until you align another puzzle piece type.
The main Adventure mode features 12 distinct visual styles as you travel from location to location (and each with different music to compliment the beautiful graphics). Locations include a beach, tree house, waterfall, cave, shipyard and so on. As nice touch, the countdown timer on the right-hand side of the screen will also be different to suit the level, such as a candle that slowly burns, a clocktower or a lighthouse, and so forth.
If the story isn’t your thing (for shame!), then you can play the other game modes – Eternity and Cruise – each of which get you right into the game-play and each offer their own unique features. Competitive types can compare your high-scores with other players from around the world.
Along with the comprehensive (and optional) tutorial, gamers can also watch a Demo mode, which is the game’s A.I. playing itself so you can see how the mechanics work.
Bounty – Special Edition is sure to capture the hearts (and wallets) of casual gamers when it debuts later this month. It’s not everyday a downloadable digital diversion adds this kind of attention to detail, such as the great story, memorable characters, beautiful art and terrific music. Once you climb on board this adventure, you’ll immediately fall in love with its high-seas charm.