Ahoy there, casual gamer! If ye enjoy the ‘ol match-3 puzzlers you’ll want to set sail with Caribbean Pirate Quest, a clever downloadable game that weaves in a treasure hunting component to the core gameplay. Argghhh!
Before the game designers at Spell of Play Studios make me walk the plank, here’s what you do in the game. You’ll start off on the seven seas, and using your mouse you’ll click to a spot on the map to sail to, such as a big red "X" on the water that represents a possible treasure spot.
The screen then opens to a familiar match-3 board, where you’ll need to swap adjacent pirate-themed items, such as swords, loot, skull and crossbones, maps, chests, and so forth. By creating a match of at least 3 identical items in a vertical or horizontal fashion, the items disappear and make room for more items that cascade down the screen to fill up the empty spaces.
To make this task more difficult, every level offers a unique-shaped board, many with obstacles to get around like spots that cannot be removed. And once you find a cannon on the map, you can then build up your power meter by successfully making matches, and then blow away an item of your choice if it helps you clear the board.
In order to clear the level, however, you must make matches with items that have a blue background to them; when all the blue spots on the grid are removed you then find yourself back in your ship from a top-down perspective. By completing these levels you’re given clues to treasure, such as being told to sail in a southwesterly direction and then click on a possible clue on land or on water.
You’ll find cash, grog, weapons, ship upgrades, and eventually unlock new maps to sail to. Your crew will cheer when gold bars or silver coins are found but if they’re unhappy with your progress as a pirate captain – such as not heeding to the clues or giving them enough grog to drink – you can be thrown overboard!
We loved the pirate angle, not just because it offers a sense of adventure but because what you find is tied to your progress. However, the match-3 gameplay itself is virtually identical to other match-3 games, with nothing really new thrown into the mix (though the unique sound effects for each tile type is a great idea). Plus, the gameplay grew repetitive after about an hour and I found myself playing just to get to the sailing portion of the game, to see what I could find next.
Fans of match-3 puzzlers should at the very least download the playable trial, but those who couldn’t care less about the pirate theme might not find enough treasure here.