Let’s face it — pirates are hot once again, thanks in part to Johnny Depp’s swagger at the box office. And so it’s no surprise this treasure-seeking-on-the-high-seas theme is a popular one in computer games, too.
Up next is Sandlot Games’ Pirate Island, a swashbuckling puzzle game with a boatload of humor that will keep you laughing while you click. While this three-in-a-row game mechanic has been overdone, and frankly, so has the pirate theme, it’s a blast to play for both novice and seasoned gamers.
At the start of the adventure you’re approached by Governor Hawkins, who asks for your help. It seems the Dread Captain Weevil, “Scourge of the Seven Seas,” has vowed revenge on the twelve pirate islands if his golden peg-leg is not returned. And so it’s up to you as the daring Redrum Bilgewater to stop Weevil and his skeletal minions by amassing as much gold and jewels to quell his demands.
The game itself should be familiar to those who’ve played Bejeweled and the like: players are presented a board with red rubies, pearl necklaces, golden rings and glittering crowns, and you must create at least three-in-a-row of the same objects – vertically, diagonally or horizontally – so they can disappear and destroy the wooden plank behind it. When all the wooden planks have been destroyed, you move onto the next level.
Instead of swapping valuables with its adjacent neighbor, however, in Pirate Island your mouse cursor turns into the last object you clicked, which is then replaced with the object you’re clicking on to make three-in-a-row. The only exception is if there isn’t a three-in-a-row to be made on the screen with the object you’re holding, it gets quickly changed to another one (it’s a bit of a cheat, but we’ll let it slide).
Power-ups appear on every level, offering gamers everything from varied bombs that destroy a bunch of planks at a time to a hammer to smash whatever you like to an hourglass to give you more time per level. Some items need to fall to the bottom of the board in order to be activated, while others simply need to be used in a three-in-a-row pattern to activate. Levels get harder over time as the shape of the board gets more challenging (including spots you can’t use), plus some planks will need to be broken twice to disappear or might have a chain on them, which requires breaking before it can be used to make a match.
In total, the game features about 100 levels split between two game modes: Challenge (the main story campaign) and Timeless (without the pressure of a burning fuse leading to an explosive barrel!).
Trophies are awarded for playing well, which appears in your ship’s captain quarters, such as a gun, globe, compass, and so forth. Bonus games appear at the end of each island, such as rotating puzzle pieces to create a picturesque scene.
So, what makes this game so funny, you ask? Not only is the dialogue quite cheeky and the dozen or so characters you’ll meet a riot, but at the end of each level you’ll be treated to a special skeleton pirate dance, which is different each time. Trust me, it’s worth the price of admission alone. Personal favorites include the guy and girl team or the green Mohawk-wearing dude.
Keep your telescope fixed on Gamezebo for a review of Pirate Island in the coming weeks.