Kids will love cruising on Max’s Pirate Planet, though adults will want to abandon ship before long.
Yo ho ho and a bottle of pop. What kid (or adult) doesn’t dream of a rogue’s life on the high sea? Max’s Pirate Planet – A Board Game Adventure is a board game-style title that gives players a whole planet to play pirate on. Youngsters will have a great time, though their parents may quickly become bored with the tedious mini-games.
You can play through Max’s Pirate Planet as one of four sea dogs: Alex, a male human pirate; Emma, a female human pirate; Rusty, a fox pirate; and Finn, a walking shark pirate with a deep scar across his snout. It hardly needs to be said, but Finn is obviously the coolest choice. Aside from character designs, though, there’s no difference in the pirates’ skills.
Max’s Pirate Planet is a four-player game. If you can’t find four live players, the game’s computer will fill in the empty slots. Most of the action takes place on the game’s spherical game board: you flick a spinner and move that number of spaces in any direction you wish. The goal is to collect four of the treasure chests that are scattered across the game board. Once you have four, you can sail to the mythical Sunken City and challenge the dastardly Barnacle Bill for his treasure hoard.
Each treasure is guarded by a monster that needs to be defeated through a mini-game. In one game, you must guide your ship through debris while a whale chases you. In another, you need to push away a monstrous octopuses’ tentacles before it lays waste to your ship. If you win, you get the treasure; if you lose, the treasure disappears and re-materializes elsewhere on the map—possibly close to a rival.
Your rivals will challenge you for your goods, too. If you meet a matey at sea, you engage in a cannon battle that requires you to tap lit cannons fast enough to sink the other ship. If you meet on land, you’re drawn into a sword fight that you win by swiping the screen in the indicated directions. None of the games are intellectually stimulating; they’re all about reflexes.
Max’s Pirate Planet is cute. The graphics are bright, and the game’s announcer is cheery. One major problem is the game’s lack of subtitles, since the voiceovers are what teach you how to play the game. It’s a disappointing oversight.
Another odd quirk in Max’s Pirate Planet is its surprisingly difficult battle against Barnacle Bill. You need to flick a cannon ball in his direction and clock him with it three times, but he scuttles behind tall piles of treasure, which makes him difficult to hit. You can whittle down the piles by hitting them with the cannon ball, but you have a very limited time limit in which to do so. It’s a frustrating turn, especially given how laid-back the rest of the game is.
Overall, the mini-games that make up much of Max’s Pirate Planet are too simplistic for adults to enjoy for a long time, though very young kids will have a whale of a time. There are worse planets to vacation on, like that one filled with sentient, horse-riding apes.