There is certainly no shortage of pirate-themed adventure games available, which makes it tough to stand out from the pack. And though Destination: Treasure Island has a few interesting ideas, it ends up as nothing more than a competent, slightly generic, swashbuckling adventure.
The story follows retired pirate Jim Hawkins, formerly Long John Silver’s right-hand man. Despite having been out of the plundering business for several years, Jim gets a blast from the past in the form of a visit from Long John Silver’s parrot, who informs him that he has been left some buried treasure. Choosing the only sensible option, Jim lifts anchor and sets forth in search of the riches.
The game features a unique "treasure trail" hint system: Silver left Jim a note, detailing in code all of the steps he has to take to find the booty. Deciphering this note is the key to success in Destination: Treasure Island. And though much of it is written in pirate talk, figuring out what to do next is usually fairly easy. This clever feature is also great for refreshing your memory after having been away from the game for extended periods, reminding you where you left off and what you have to do next.
But aside from that one twist, there isn’t much unique about Destination. The gameplay, which takes place from a first-person perspective, consists largely of scouring the environment for items that are then combined and used to solve puzzles. Some items can even be disassembled, which ultimately leaves your inventory a little too full to be comfortably manageable. And this isn’t helped by the awkward inventory menu that makes organizing your items much too frustrating.
Occasionally you will also be forced to complete a knot-tying mini-game, that requires an intimate knowledge of different types of knots. Thankfully there is no punishment for wrong choices, making guessing a valid option, which is a big help for those of us who never attended boating school.
It should also be noted that unlike most adventure games, you won’t be doing much talking to other characters in Destination. In fact, there are really only two other characters in the game, one of whom happens to be an extremely annoying parrot.
Where the game does get things right though is visually. Exploring the lush, tropical island is a treat, complete with white sandy beaches and all manner of colorful plant life. It’s almost enough to make you wish you were on a vacation yourself. The same goes for the characters and animals found in the game, all of which animate smoothly and feature plenty of nice detail. The in-game graphics are contrasted nicely by the comic book style cut-scenes that help to advance the story at key points in the game.
While there’s nothing particularly wrong with Destination: Treasure Island, there is also very little that stands out. It’s a decidedly average game, and in such a crowded field, that makes it a bit of a tough sell. That doesn’t mean that pirate-loving adventure game fans shouldn’t take the plunge, but they just shouldn’t expect to wowed.