Captain Clumsy sails along fine, until his lust for gold becomes unbearable.

The mobile landscape is overpopulated with games based around jumping straight up over and over. It feels like a blast of fresh air when a game breaks away from the vertical jumping pattern and tries something new.  In the case of Pirates: Captain Clumsy, the only major change to the formula was replacing jumping with falling. This change works wonders, but the Captain’s lust for gold manages to get the better of him.

Captain Clumsy tells the story of a pirate who drinks a bit too much rum and hangs on to a few too many balloons. In the process, he floats far above his ship. What goes up, must come down, and that provides the foundation of the tale of Captain Clumsy. Outside of a mini comic before the first level, there’s really no narrative, and feels like most other games in the genre.

Every level starts at the top of the ship. The Captain begins falling, and you need to touch the left and right sides of the screen to push him in those directions. These controls feel great, opposed to the tilt controls, which lack precision. As you’re falling, you’ll encounter a wide variety of obstacles. Some of the obstacles are just parts of the ship, where you can land and comfortably change direction. You’ll also encounter pushable barrels, Captain-sized cannons, and breakable walls. The one danger is the massive number of gulls hanging out on the ship, which remove health upon contact. These pieces work together to create stages that are exciting, even if the game is on the easy side.

On your way down, you’ll come across a handful of collectibles, the most common of which are coins, which are used to unlock power-ups and levels. You’ll also find balloons that help keep you afloat, as going too long without picking up a balloon will send you into an almost-uncontrollable free fall. Throughout the levels, there are also power-ups, giant coins, and a set number of treasure chests, which are used to unlock certain stages.

Unfortunately, unlocking stages is weakest point in Captain Clumsy. While some stages are unlocked by collecting treasure chests, the majority have two prerequisites: Completing all previous levels, and cashing in enough coins. The game is easy enough where beating levels is hardly a factor. The coin issue is a different story. While you can unlock a few levels with ease, the price for new stages quickly escalates, and you’ll find yourself either paying real money for in-game currency, or replaying past levels numerous times just to earn the necessary coins.

Pirates: Captain Clumsy     Pirates: Captain Clumsy

What makes this more frustrating is the in-game shop, which provides a variety of power-up and character improvements, as well as items that let you respawn mid-level. These purchases are not cheap, and spending your hard-earned coins on items will only delay how long it takes to progress through the game. You can use real money to buy coins—and remove ads—but the rate you’ll spend it may prove to be an unwise purchase.

The coin dilemma is disappointing, because it takes away from what is an otherwise fun experience. Scoring achievements and getting three stars on each stage help replay value to an extent, but they’re not enough to save the game from becoming frustrating as it continuously asks for more money. If you can put up with the gold issue, you’ll find that Pirates: Captain Clumsy is a fun time, despite lacking originality. If your patience runs thin, your may abandon ship rather quick.