Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates - PC - Review
Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates is a collection of addicting and fun puzzles within a living world. It can be played solo, but the true experience lies online where you and many other pirates meet and explore the sea as well as the many islands that inhabit it. So grab your sword and bandana and get ready to drink and pillage…in puzzle form!
As a stand-alone game, Puzzle Pirates is very simple. It consists of a handful of puzzles that most people will find very familiar, ranging from Tetris-style block clearing puzzles to Zoo Keeper or Gems style pattern matching.
One of your options when playing offline is Adventure mode, where you follow a story and perform puzzles as they are called for. Your other option is a Practice mode that allows you to practice any puzzle you have run into during the story mode. These single player modes seem to be included only to introduce players to the style of Puzzle Pirates, since it’s all very introductory and linear. The true focus of the game is its online play
When beginning your online adventure of Puzzle Pirates you are prompted to create a character. Your character is what other online players will see, so you are given many choices when designing your pirate. You will have the choice between male or female, and then what style hair, facial hair, hair color and skin color they will have. As you earn pieces of eight (or PoE as it’s referred to in-game) you can buy new equipment to further customize the way you look.
On the left side of the screen you see yourself and your surroundings. This is your navigation and where you interact with other pirates. On the right side you see the island you’re on and your menu system. Within the menu system you can check your friends list, add friends, change equipment, check personal character info or browse and accept missions.
At first, making money is your main priority. Not only does everything cost money, but it also familiarizes you with the way Puzzle Pirates is played. To do this, there is both a public notice board in every town and a personal mission log. Here you will see the missions available to you and where to accept them. The board and log both detail what is required for the mission, and there are always plenty to choose from so you won’t have to do something you don’t want to.
Even if missions don’t sound fun there is always something to do. Shop stalls are always accepting help, and ships are always looking for a crew.
Now to the meat of the game: the puzzles. Everything you do is dealt with in some sort of puzzle. Sword fighting, drinking, crafting, working on ships, and even brewing alcohol each have their own specific and unique puzzle game.
The most common puzzles used to make money are ones found on ships. You’re able to sail the ship, become a craftsman that repairs the ship as it sails, pump water that leaks into the ship, operate the cannons during ship battles, or even navigate the ship. Each ship only has a certain amount of space for each puzzle, so if the ship has enough craftsmen you’ll have to find something else to do.
When not on a ship you can explore various locations on your current island. Different shops will offer work for pay in things such as brewing alcohol, alchemizing, or shipwrightery. If you have enough PoE and experience you can even open your own stalls to perform work for other players and potentially make even more money.
And if you don’t feel like working you can shoot the breeze with the other pirates, challenge them to a number of puzzles, or watch any competitions going on. There are also tournaments in almost all the versus puzzle games that you can enter or watch. These puzzles include card games, sword fighting, drinking, or even Game Gardens, an experimental web site that hosts various multiplayer board games that can be accessed through Puzzle Pirates. These are some of the most fun games in Puzzle Pirates since you can play with or against the other players. You’ll most likely meet the pirates that join your future pillages here.
As you do these puzzles you are gaining experience, and the better you perform the higher up in the ranks you will go. The puzzles become a little more difficult, but the payoff is also greater.
The social aspect of Puzzle Pirates is very user friendly. Each pirate has a small circle at his or her feet, and if you click on it you will stand in a circle with that pirate. When in a circle you can chat with anyone within that circle using the chat window at the bottom of the screen. The game even auto-translates many common acronyms like “gg” for good game or “lol” for laughing. You can also challenge anyone to a friendly game or place a wager to make it a little more interesting. The notice board also has invitations into pillaging groups, so you can always make friends.
Puzzle Pirates’ true intention is an online community, so I strongly recommend buying it only if you plan on playing online. Puzzle Pirates is basically an MMORPG (Massively Multiplayer Online Role Playing Game) – there is a $9.95 monthly fee, most of the other pirates you encounter are other human players like yourself, and your character grows and improves with your performance. The first month is free, and the game should only run you about 20 dollars, so it is definitely worth a shot.
If you don’t like puzzle games then you’d get bored pretty quick with Puzzle Pirates, but hopefully you could tell that by the name. Thanks to Three Rings and Ubisoft, we now know that taking a wide variety of puzzle games and thrusting them into a living role-playing world creates a very fun and time-consuming piece of software.
Even though the graphics aren’t state-of-the-art, they accomplish their goal of being cartoony and loveable. Environments are detailed and the visual diversity of equipment is wide - a very pleasing game to look at.
There are no bad sounds in the game, but the bummer thing is that there are hardly any sounds. Music only plays in short clips when certain puzzles are started, and sound effects are triggered every once in awhile by puzzles or challenges. Definitely a game to play with Winamp or iTunes in the background.
Puzzle Pirates is designed to attract any type of gamer, and getting started is very easy. There are help files on every aspect of gameplay, and pirate trainers can be found all over to help you improve or guide you to a new mission.
With all the massively multiplayer games out now based on fantasy worlds and combat, it’s refreshing to see a puzzle-based one with as much depth and charm as Puzzle Pirates.
Multiplayer is the heart of the game; without it, Puzzle Pirates would still be fun, but for a very short period of time.
There’s enough variety and style in Puzzle Pirates to provide a fun and entertaining experience. The puzzle variety is large enough to keep you from getting bored, and with room for your character to expand you’ll be surprised at how much you actually play. For an initial 20 dollars and only $9.95 a month Puzzle Pirates is a long-term game the whole family can enjoy.