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Pirate’s Treasure Review: This game bugs me

Gamelab Innovation Center and Chillingo recently released Pirate’s Treasure, a dual-stick survival shooter that is sadly not innovative, nor even very fun. The game’s pirate protagonist hobbles too closely in the footsteps of those before him, namely John Gore from Minigore and Guerrilla Bob. If you’ve read my review of the latter title, you already know I have issues with both of those games; and so it pains me to say it, but Pirate’s Treasure is vastly inferior to both. It’s not nearly as polished as MiniGore, and it’s not as well-conceived as Guerrilla Bob.

In Pirate’s Treasure, you play the titular pirate — not a real pirate, but a caricature pirate — and kill bugs. Big bugs. Lots of big bugs. Why a pirate? Well, why not a pirate? Having made him a pirate, the developers could justify supplying him with a ridiculous accent and let him talk smack about rum, planks and booty. But honestly, with a setting and premise so generic — a tropical island full of bugs and a quest for the grim reaper’s gold — the main character could have been anything: a ninja, a soldier, an adventurer, a cowboy, an island native, a cybernetic mermaid bounty hunter dominatrix, or even a fairy princess.

The game is comprised of several arenas representing different areas of the island, such as the beach, forest, ruins, etc. You will constantly revisit these arenas to fulfill specific objectives, such as killing a specified number of enemies, collecting a number of coins, or surviving for an allotted period of time. Some stages will have multiple objectives. Successful completion of each stage earns you a key, with keys being used to unlock progressively more difficult stages and access to additional arenas. Lite RPG elements are also included, in which coins accumulated may be spent to improve your pirate’s speed, firepower, luck and special transformation.

The game is played as a traditional dual-stick shooter from a top-down perspective, with one thumb for movement and the other used to direct your fire in a full 360-degrees.

Likes:

Kid-Friendly: With its cute, big-eyed bugs, benign settings and being relatively light on violence and gore, Pirate’s Treasure is the most kid-friendly title in Chillingo’s triumvirate of dual-stick copycats (Minigore, Guerilla Bob, Pirate’s Treasure). While Pirate’s Treasure is probably the worst of the three, it’s definitely the most appropriate of the bunch for younger gamers.

Dislikes:

Unresponsive: Compared to its ilk, Pirate’s Treasure feels less responsive then its peers. The controls are stiffer, then game chugs a little on older devices, and it just doesn’t feel as tight as it could. Playable yes, tight no.

Repetitive: “This is gettin’ old,” the pirate occasionally quips whilst blasting bugs, and I couldn’t agree more. It really is getting old. Not only is Pirate’s Treasure is derivative of better games, but every stage is derivative of itself. You will constantly revisit the same areas again and again to kill the same enemies you’ve already killed. Each visit will assign you different objectives to complete, but there’s just no getting around the fact that you’re in the same place, shooting the same bugs without any significant change in gameplay. No shit it’s getting old, Dr. Pirate, Ph. D.

Generic: What on earth have giant bugs got to do with pirates?! Had pirates spent so much time battle insects as in this game, they would not have been feared as plunderers and villains, but praised and cherished and probably canonized as saints of pest control. Further in you will battle golems, various types of undead and Death himself, but there’s nothing very pirate-like about any of it. Rip out the pirate, change the voice track and you could insert Mario or Indiana Jones in his place without changing anything else. If the developers had wanted to include undead, why not have made them undead pirates, the animated corpses of previous pirate’s who’d gone after Death’s treasure? Instead of bugs, why not various creatures of the sea, being as pirates had so much to do with the water?

Having previously enjoyed Gamelab Innovation Center’s Roswell Fighter (iPhone / iPad), I had really been looking forward to getting my hands on Pirate’s Treasure. Unfortunately, I can only describe the game as a let down. While I wasn’t enamored with Guerrilla Bob, at least its enemies made sense within the context of the setting and story; more so than bugs and pirates. And Guerrilla Bob was just a better game in so many ways. Take it even further, reach for even better games in the realm of dual-stick shooters with RPG elements and I would recommend Isotope, Meteor Blitz and Alive 4-ever Returns over Pirate’s Treasure.

In summary, if you want a dual-stick shooter, you can do a lot better than Pirate’s Treasure. If you want a pirate-themed game, there are also better options available — The Battle of Pirate Bay, OMG Pirates! and WarShip quickly come to mind. If you have a child or younger sibling who is really interested in pirates, then Pirate’s Treasure may be worth checking out. Otherwise, your time and money would be better spent elsewhere. Pirate’s Treasure isn’t an awful game by any means, but let’s face it: there are so many dual-stick shooters on the app store, there’s really no reason to settle for anything less than the best.

Pirate’s Treasure is developed by Gamelab Innovation Center and published by Chillingo. Reviewed on an iPhone 3G at version 1.0. App Store Link: $1.99.



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