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iPhone  header logo

PlunderNauts

For: iPhone   Also on: Android, iPad

Sp-ace

Product: PlunderNauts | Developer: LightBox Interactive | Publisher: Backflip Studios | Format: iPhone | Genre: 3D, Action, Shooter, Strategy | Players: 1 | Networking: wireless (network) | Version: Europe | App version: 1.01
 
PlunderNauts iPhone, thumbnail 1
Backflip Studios is the developer responsible for Gizmonauts, DragonVale, and NinJump Deluxe - all of which I enjoyed to varying degrees.

PlunderNauts is Backflip's first project as a publisher (it was developed by Lightbox Interactive), which means somebody had enough confidence in it to make it a debut title of sorts.

The screenshots show gigantic spacecraft, laser beams, high tech weaponry, and robot pirates.

The text accompanying shouts a promise of "EPIC SPACE BATTLES IN THE PALM OF YOUR HAND!".

Colour me excited.

First impressions

Here's the plot: a fearsome space pirate called Iron Beard once amassed a vast quantity of treasure and hid it somewhere in the universe. Treasure hunters duly set off in search of this bounty, building gigantic war ships to fight off their rivals in the hunt.

You are one such treasure hunter, going from planet to planet in search of the booty.

You use up fuel cells travelling to and from each celestial body, and when you reach one you invariably encounter enemies, at which point it's advisable to blast them to bits with your on-board weaponry.

Getting around involves dragging a finger from your ship to wherever you want to travel. Your ship automatically targets enemies, and you then select which one you'd like to fire upon.

Weapons have a limited field of view, so if you want to use your starboard cannons, you'll need to have your right-hand side facing your opponent, which makes positional play important.

There are special powers available to give you a winning edge. A squadron of fighter jets can engage the bad guys, a temporary shield protects you from harm, and speed boosts allow you to get behind an opposing ship to target its weakest areas.

IAPs explained
A Pile of Gold costs £1.49 / $1.99 (for 4,900 Gold). You use it to purchase most parts, and you can earn it through regular play.

The more premium Energy Clusters cost the same, but you only receive 250 for your investment. You use these to recharge your energy to play longer and to buy ships.
I'm only five encounters in, but already I'm really liking PlunderNauts. Check back here in a few days to see if I'm still as buzzed about the game as I am now.

Day 3: Hardcore GMm / r

Over the last few days, rival pirates have invaded the planets I've already conquered and stopped me earning Gold on them. This just won't do. Obviously, then, I've spent part of this week re-visiting previous areas to re-claim them as my own.

Money talks in PlunderNauts... and so does large powerful weaponry.

Thus, the language of success becomes forged from Gold and upgrades. You visit the shop to purchase new Turrets, Fighters, Techmods, Crew, and Materials, and this makes you more capable in a scrap.

A visit to the Forge enables you to combine Materials with other items to create more powerful ones. For example, I created Hull Plating by combining three metal ingots, and then made Blaster Armour by chucking a Turret into that mix.

Also up for sale are whole new Starships, many of which offer vastly superior statistics to other vessels, as well as more potential to add upgrades and crew members.

I'm beginning to lean on the same tactics to defeat enemies during play, but the battles change just enough each time to keep me interested. I've been encountering Asteroids over the last couple of days, for instance. And after getting familiar with how they work, I've been using them to put distance between me and my opponent to get some breathing room and re-group during combat.

Even if all battles were the same every time, the energy system is a little miserly. You only get to play in 10- to 15-minute chunks, so you don't ever get the chance to become tired of them. I don't mind energy systems, personally. But if you're the type of person who gets irritated by them, then they're going to seriously annoy you here.

Day 7: Booty-full

This game's a stunner in motion. And even after a week of play, I'm regularly amazed at how detailed each ship is.

Every cacophonous explosion and each streak of burnt rocket fuel is proof of the tremendous attention to detail the developer has paid to this game.

It's hard to fault, as the simple touch, drag, and release play is displayed in a clear manner. And even though the blackness of space is punctured with heavy laser fire, you can always see what's going on. The camera occasionally doesn't show as much of the play area as you'd like, but you get used to it.

Menus are almost as thoughtfully designed, with the exception of the upgrades section. I couldn't find a way to quickly and easily compare parts available in the store with parts I already owned, which led to me on occasions traipsing through the two menus multiple times.

Though I'm learning a few new tactics, I still find myself resorting to some favourite strategies. The upgrades system is beyond my comprehension, though, and I'm not crafting a great deal of quality items. I think I'm missing something, but some more guidance on this element would be useful.

For those that persist, there's a good deal of nuance here - if only some of it were a little better explained. Still, the ship combat is nothing less than spectacular, and there's oodles of content to keep you busy.

How are you getting on with the game? You can tell us and the rest of the PG community about your experiences by leaving a comment in the box below. Click here to learn about our free-to-play review policy.
 
PlunderNauts
Reviewer photo
Peter Willington | 21 March 2014
PlunderNauts is an attractive ship combat game with plenty of depth. It's a depth you'll have to work hard to reveal, though
 
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Joined:
Jun 2014
Post count:
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Aaron Cohen | 04:04 - 23 June 2014
ANDROID that is. Sorry not for Android.
Joined:
Jun 2014
Post count:
5
Aaron Cohen | 04:03 - 23 June 2014
NOPE! Lightbox brushes off facebook fan, says : "SORRY CAPTAIN!"
Joined:
Mar 2014
Post count:
2
Alex Wilkins | 06:51 - 26 March 2014
I'm loving it and I'm dying 2 see the MP part of the game. @curtisrshideler Canada and UK now. @Jeffro Bodine no go on Android version - maybe down down the road lol check out my gameplay https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZQh1tQDs760
Joined:
Jan 2010
Post count:
537
curtisrshideler | 16:05 - 21 March 2014
Haha! Where's the iOS version? Is it still Canada only?
Joined:
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Post count:
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Jeffro Bodine | 11:37 - 21 March 2014
Where is the Android version?
 
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