At a glance...

Reviewer Platform Publisher Developer Players
Jennifer Dawson Nintendo DS Oxygen Games Oxygen Studios 1-4 (Local WiFi)
Requirements Buy from
None Click here to buy Pirates: Duels on the High Seas.

Pirates: Duels on the High Seas review

Welcome to Pirates: Duels on the High Seas, would you like to start again? The first time you load up this game it gives you the option to "start again". This makes more sense once you have played it and is simply a small detail that is inconsequential to the actual game play and of course after the first time it doesn't matter. But it is little things like this throughout the game that make an otherwise fairly good title feel unpolished.

The basic premise of Pirates is that you are on a pirate ship out to pillage and plunder (ahaaarrr mateys, ahem) as much as you can. In the course of this you pick up a magical key that turns out to be one of 7. If you don't collect all of these keys before sunset after six days, all the crew will die horrible deaths and be doomed forever, etc. The seven keys are located in the seven seas and you need to go to each sea and collect the key. Each sea is themed, there is one in a Caribbean-esque land (Port Royal), one is presumable South America, another is icy, another is inside a volcano and so on. You progress through the various seas collecting keys and meeting the group of cursed characters who had them, albeit rather briefly in some cases.

In each level you are required to steer your pirate ship through a series of river systems collecting gold, crew members and weapons while attempting not to be destroyed by the various other ships and monsters that inhabit the sea. The boat is steered by using the L and R buttons to move it forwards and backwards and the D pad to steer the boat left or right. I'm not sure how many ships can actually go backwards but it does do it, and more slowly. This took me a little while to get used to but since the early levels are pretty easy there is plenty of time to practice. The ship fires cannon balls out of its sides and you pick up weapons that can be fired from the front of the ship. One slightly annoying feature of this is that you can only use one type of weapon at once. For example, if you pick a box of 10 rockets and use 5, if you then pick up a box of chain shots you can no longer use the rockets you had left. The gold is used for healing or fixing yourself as you go along. The gold goes down as the hit points go up. You can also pick up carpenters and collecting more of these allows you to heal faster. However, picking up the extra crew members costs gold and the price goes up as you advance through the level.

The play is generally enjoyable although possibly a bit repetitive. Every level consists of destroying ships and boat houses and progressing through the river system. Even the monsters repeat. You have to kill the Kraken several times. There are occasional variations such as having to follow another ship rather than destroying it and the levels do get harder. You have to destroy more ships and they become harder to kill as the levels advance. Several different types of ship appear as you advance through the game; smaller faster ones, larger ones which have more hit points, bomber ships which explode on contact and, in the Bermuda Triangle, the ships can disappear and then pop up in a different place. Plus there are towers on the shores and islets that shoot cannon balls and, in the best traditions of gaming, even the ones that are in the frozen Antarctic burst in to the flames when you shoot cannon balls at them.


Overall Overall the game is pretty good but there are a few little annoyances in the details. Not a classic but good piratey fun. 5/10

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