If you prefer some swashbuckling, keelhauling, and plank-walking flavor in your match-three puzzle action, then boy are you in luck. Sailing the deadly high seas in search of trouble and treasure provides the enticing thematic backdrop for a healthy dose of polished puzzle gameplay in The Adventures of Mary Ann: Lucky Pirates. A little piratical twist and a lot of variety make for some fun lighthearted Caribbean mayhem. Just watch out for sea serpents, scurvy, and sunken reefs along the way.

This nautical tale follows the seafaring exploits of Mary Ann and her unlikely companion. As a young orphaned girl, she spent her formative mopping decks on a fishing ship daydreaming of adventures seemingly far out of her grasp. Just when all hope seems lost, a mangled sailor mysteriously washes up by her vessel and inadvertently spreads his curse to the boat’s crew, leaving Mary Ann in charge to take the helm as its new captain.

In exchange for learning the ways of the pirate, she agrees to help the poor cursed fellow return to Skull Island to break his curse, which will let him finally lay down to rest eternally and put Mary Ann in the position to become the pirating queen of the Caribbean. However, the trip to Skull Island is no easy voyage. The journey ahead is filled with lots of traps, dangerous beasts, ghostly pirates, and tons of puzzle matching.

There are many points of interest to explore along the expansive map laid out in Lucky Pirates, and each offers its own surprises, rewards, and perils. Hopping smaller islands along the coast and venturing further into the deeper waters beyond gives you the opportunity to pick and choose different styles of match-three encounters and unlock new hotspots to check out Regardless of which variation on the central theme you enjoy the most, it’s the constant switching-up between them that keeps the game’s momentum buoyant.

Mission locations place your ship in a smaller map that’s mostly obscured by dark fog. Here you’ll explore the unknown waters by moving your ship along the grid in order to clear away the fog, hunt down treasure, locate secret islands, or defeat tougher opponents. Along the way, you’ll uncover special items and run into smaller enemy encounters. When a battle ensues, you’ll play an elaborate, Bejeweled like gem matching game where you’ll take turns attempting to clear as many gems as possible to do the greatest amount of damage to your opponent.

Going head-to-head against giant squid, vagrant pirates, ghost ships, sea monsters, and other beasts of the deep, you’ll strategically whittle away at their hit points in each battle while seeking to conserve your own until the overall mission is complete. Certain gem colors are more effective against specific types of creatures, adding an extra layer of strategy into the gameplay.

Additionally, special items – like tar barrels that repair your ship, harpoons that cause extra damage to sea monsters, and hourglasses that give an extra turn – can be purchased to boost your abilities. Further along in the game, you can equip special battle gems that have other unique properties. Mission encounters and the battles that ensue are the most elaborate of the match-three gameplay styles to be found in Lucky Pirates, though the others are equally enjoyable.

Location puzzles task you with matching different items over a smaller, odd-shaped grid to highlight all of the available tiles. Pieces include sabers, coins, skulls, bombs, and other piratical fare. In a slight variation, treasure puzzles require you to do the same, only you’ll be matching pieces to uncover a hidden path and clearing the way for a tiny Mary Ann to make her way to the treasure chest. As added diversions, there’s also a Minesweeper-like mini-game where you’ll dig for buried treasure and several pirate-themed gambling games like video poker, roulette, and slots, that are good for attempting to boost your earnings.

Lucky Pirates earns high marks for very well put-together visuals, sounds, and gameplay. It’s like a colorful match-three buffet filled with exotic delicacies. But on that same note, there are offerings on display that may not be as palatable for some players. The main mission encounters require a lot of strategy and tend to take much longer to complete. They can drag on unnecessarily at times when you stumble into large numbers of random enemy encounters or accidentally perish. And while there’s a lot of different types of match-three variations worked into the game, it can get still repetitive over time.

Lucky Pirates is definitely worth a play for match-three fans looking for the a fun twist on the old addictive formula, but whether you’ll want to stick with it in the long run may very well be determined by your patience level.