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iPad  header logo

Puzzle Pirates

For: iPad

A booty-less quest

Product: Puzzle Pirates | Developer: Three Rings Design | Publisher: Sega | Format: iPad | Genre: Casual, Multiplayer, Puzzle | Players: 1 | Version: Europe
Puzzle Pirates iPad, thumbnail 1
Scurvy Scallywags proved that pirate-themed humour and simple puzzle mechanics can gel to create something special. Its mix of cheesy eye-patch jokes and a brilliant stuff-matching battle system made for an exciting and entertaining experience.

Puzzle Pirates, however, fails to do anything of the kind. It's a muddled mass of ideas and concepts that feels like it's been haphazardly crammed into the hold of a galleon and pushed out to sea without a second thought.


There are two parts to the Puzzle Pirates universe. On the one hand you've got a simple, juddery MMO-lite style game that sees you wandering around a series of islands buying stuff for your pirate-y house and choosing what colour bandana to wear.

IAPs explained
This being a game about pirates, the main currency is called Dubloons. You use them to buy all manner of extra items and equipment.

As well as collecting them as you play, you can purchase bundles of Dubloons. Bundles range in price from 12 for £1.99 / $2.99 all the way up to £69.99 / $99.99 for 500.

You also get free items for buying the bundles, and the game runs various deals to give you extra rewards for your purchases.
And on the other hand you have the puzzles. These replace the day-to-day duties of pirate life. There are various tasks that need performing as your pirate ship makes its way across the ocean, and these are all converted into familiar puzzle games.

Manning the bilge-pump is like playing Bejeweled, for example, and getting involved in a fist fight is like playing a two-gunned, slightly wonky version of Puzzle Bobble. Stitching torn sails is Pipe Mania, and sword fighting is Columns meets Tetris.

The rare occasions when the game shows some original ideas are usually stymied by obfuscation and confusion, and the additions the developer has made to the more familiar puzzles often lead to some head-scratching.

You can team up with other pirates to man a ship and pillage for loot, and there's seamless cross-platform multiplayer too, but the whole thing feels laboured and poorly planned, with confusing menus and too much information hurled at you from the get-go.

Pie rats

But the main problem is a lack of cohesion between the two sides of the game. The puzzling feels arbitrary and the MMO sections feel like stumbling through the land of the hobbled. Everything is reasonably polished, but it's all too easy to see beneath that sheen.

Puzzle Pirates isn't terrible, and as a collection of greatest-hits puzzling it works pretty well. It's just a shame there's such a lack of innovation or interest, leaving anyone looking for more with a slightly sour taste in his mouth.

This is a solid but spectacularly unremarkable game that lacks the depth of its MMO inspiration and the cerebral nature of its puzzling kin. It's fun, sometimes, but you can't help but think you'd be better served playing something else.
Puzzle Pirates
Reviewer photo
Harry Slater | 1 July 2013
A flawed but occasionally entertaining mash-up, Puzzle Pirates never quite manages to connect its disparate, uninspired parts
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