It's been a little while since I wrote about any iOS games, and though I've been playing a few I like, I'm going to dedicate an entire non-review post on Ron Gilbert and Clayton Kauzlaric's latest release (their last game was The Big Big Castle!), Scurvy Scallyways in the Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG. Or just Scurvy Scallywags, for short. ($0.99 - universal for iDevices)
In this game, you get to play as a pirate (there are male and female options), and you start out as an actor in a play. Except you actually play out the scenes, and have cool battles, and collect funny songs. In-between story bits, you travel through different islands on your piratey vessel (totally upgrade-able), and each "level" is a match-3 board that looks altogether familiar. Except the mechanics of the game aren't totally what you're used to.
For one thing, the music is rad - composed by Steve Kirk, whose style you might recognize from The Big Big Castle! if you're also a fan of that title. The sound effects are also pretty funny (and satisfying, considering there are so many different kinds). The biggest change here from usual match-3 games is that the board moves in the direction that you swipe. If you swipe a row from left to right, that's the direction that new pieces will fill in, and so on, and so forth. Why is that important? Because there will also be enemies on the board that you can attack if you're strong enough. If you aren't, you've got to manipulate the board to keep away from them. By the way, they can also move around when they feel like it. Besides manipulating enemy locations around the board, you also need to plan your moves to get presents and quest items.
Other elements that rock: at the end of each stage, right when you're finished beating the last enemy, you get to spend some time picking up loot before you're kicked out. What rocks even more about this bit is you can opt to either pick up loot on a time limit, or sit and strategize five moves in an effort to optimize you gold-collecting. Strategy is the big theme here, since your pirate's life depends on it, and you also aren't on any kind of time limit on the regular boards. If you are on a level that will eventually see six monsters, for example, they may all very well be in play at the same time if you survive long enough without picking a fight with any of them. I tell ya, that makes for some exciting game time.
One other note is, it's pretty easy to get carried away and let your pirate die. And it's ok if he/she does. So okay, in fact, that there's an achievement for having that happen a certain number of times. In the event that your pirate bites it, you do have to do a few things over, but you don't lose your inventory, weapons and outfits, or ship upgrades. It's easy/quick to catch up again to where you were and keep on going with the story.
Scurvy Scallywags is every bit as fun and witty as you'd expect in any project involving Ron and Clayton, and more importantly, aims to be much more engaging than other games of its kind given the RPG elements and extra involved swapping on the matching boards. The reason I didn't make this a review-type post is (transparency!) because I participated in the testing for this game. So I've been playing it for a long time, and can tell you that you can spend hours on end blazing through the maps, but if you're more into short bursts, you can easily just play a few rounds on the go whenever you feel like. But the bigger thing here is that I've got "integrity" and "ethics" and stuff, and prefer to just talk about
Scurvy Scallywags because it's awesome.
So, yeah. Scurvy Scallywags is a fun game, and absolutely worth your 99 cents in the App Store. You don't need to buy anything in-game to enjoy it to the fullest, and you don't need to turn the volume down and listen to something else to avoid annoying, repetitive sound effects. Actually, it's kind of important that you keep the volume on.