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First started in late 2007, Kasey's Mobile Game Review (then just a regular feature of Kasey's Korner) started as a simul-post between here and IGN. Later I realized there's no reason to post it twice, when I can use the traffic on my own site. so, here we are, in 2010, and the mobile game industry has grown a bit. What do you think?

KMGR of "Pirate Ship Booty"

Blackbeard's CastleImage by Erica_Marshall via Flickr

Pirate Ship Booty from Digital Chocolate is an attempt to breath some new life into "Battleship", where you shoot blindly into the other map hoping to hit something, and hopefully sink all of the other side's ship before he does the same to you. Think of it as Sid Meier's Pirates, with combat resolved by Battleship Rules, and you wouldn't be too far off.

The game starts off by reciting Blackbeard's legend, that Blackbeard have stowed away enormous amounts of treasure that is only accessible by assembling a special map revealing his hiding place. Every few years, he will raid a port and carry away the most beautiful maiden to be his undead bride. It's a nice setup as the game starts... You are a Pirate Prince... you arrived at home port, finding it in ruins... Your father told you that your betrothed was taken by Blackbeard, then died... You must defeat the other pirates that roam the seas, conquer the other towns that do not report to you (so that they pay YOU every "turn"). Defeating foes will yield gold and treasures, which allows you to replenish losses and perhaps, outfit another captain with more ships. Yes, you can duel with "towns", where forts take place of ships.

On the Caribbean map, storm clouds move randomly, fleets move on their own each turn, and you have your limited amount of movement as well, so spend them wisely. You can conquer more towns, but some towns are owned by the Trading Company, whom will send merchant fleets, and if you are really bothering the merchant fleets, they will send in pirate hunter fleets. However, all can be defeated.

When encounter happens (two entities meet by movement, be them fleets or towns or special encounters), one can choose auto-fight, flee, or manual fight. However, there is an special circumstance. Against Blackbeard, the "endgame", only manual fight is possible. Autofight however, may not provide the best outcome as captain's special ability does not come into play. One can also choose to manually fight, or flee (avoid the engagement), if you have any movement left.

Next step in manual fight is to deploy the ships on the map. The map is same on both sides unless you're fighting against a town and its forts. You can rotate the ship (vertical or horizontal) and place them anywhere legal (on the grid). Opponent will do the same. Then the battle starts.

The battle is by Battleship rules, with a few twists... Each captain has a special ability. The Pirate Prince (your avatar) sees 3 squares instead of regular 2. This allows him to avoid things as most fleet have a move speed of 3. Rednose Kid has speed of 4, fastest in Caribbean. Captain Bonny (yes, female) is an excellent navigator and can survive storms without losing ships. The Notorious Henry Morgan has power of sixes, which means he gets an extra shot (4 instead of 3) if all of his ships are afloat. Yet other captains have ability to load special weapons faster, have special weapon ready to go at the beginning, and so on. There are some captains with no special abilities.

So what are the special weapons? Different ships have a different special weapon, and ships comes in several sizes... From the 2-space pinnace up to 5-space war galleon, each have a special weapon. It could be "big shot" (3 by 3 cross-shaped shot covering 5 spaces), scatter shot (4 shots randomly in 3x3 square), full salvo (a row or column of 5 shots), and so on. Every normal shot you fire adds to the special shot gauge. When the gauge fills, you can shoot the special weapon, and you can choose from whatever you got. In fact, there are some special weapons that are granted after certain "special quests". For example, "Barbarossa's Spyglass" let's you see what's on the other side in a small area of 2x4 (regular spyglass is just 1x4). In another quest, you can win "Rum Catapult", which uses the special weapon to shoot off a bunch of rum barrels. The enemy crew is so busy to grab the rum they only get off 1 shot per turn for 3 turns.

If you defeat the other fleet (sank all its ships), you loot the gold and send the losing captain packing. If it's a fellow pirate captain, he'll appear at your homeport in a pinnace, ready to fight for you (you now control him). If you lose the fight, the same will happen to you. Then you get to control the other pirate captains while you accumulate gold to redo your fleet. You should separate those captains with useful abilities in combat and re-outfit them (i.e. buy them ships to reform their fleet) so that you can use them to defeat other targets, such as merchant fleets, other towns, and pirate hunters. Believe me, you WILL need them to help you defeat Blackbeard's undead fleet.

When you have re-assembled the map, Blackbeard's hideout appears... and he'll send out a couple ghost fleets to harass you... But he will be waiting at his base for you to challenge them. It is best to send in a couple other captains before you move in, as he has TEN ships, compared to your SIX. So you need to send multiple captains with their fleets in to wear him down.

Win the final battle, and the game ends, as you have saved your betrothed, and got riches beyond imagining for all fellow pirates.

If you don't like the campaign, you can play a single "battle" against any of the AI captains, or even against a friend by passing the phone back and forth in "hotseat" mode.

The graphics are good enough, just cartoony enough to be fun, and not too scary for younger children (certainly no more scary than any of the Pirates of the Caribbean movies).

All in all, the marriage of Pirates and Battleship seems to be quite successful. While it's not the best game I've played, it's certainly better than a lot of the drivel available nowadays.

Overall rating: 8 out of 10 (!)
Pros: different game every time, familiar mechanics with bit of adventure
Cons: can be a bit slow at times, and a bit too easy

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