Pirates of the Caribbean

Pirates of the Caribbean

Written by Ben Zackheim on 10/24/2003 for GBA  



Pirates of the Caribbean is an excessively fun and funny movie that came out of nowhere. I remember seeing the posters in theaters and being markedly unimpressed. A film based on an amusement park ride? Can someone please help me? Ugh.

So seeing the best romp of the summer unfold before my eyes when my wife forced me to go was a pleasant and humbling experience. Depp's performance made me a lifelong fan and I look forward to the sequel. It was with the same trepidation that I approached the Gameboy Advanced game of the same name. Could it continue the charmed life of the movie or would it be exactly as good as many expect a licensed game to be (i.e. not good at all).

Juggling a swordfight while changing the channel on the TV should be harder than this…

PotC starts well enough. You play the part of Pirate Jack, the cur from the movie. Beyond that, and a few other names like Barbossa, there are no similarities to the film. Considering I and many others love the film that's more than too bad. That's criminal. Walk the plank!

Though the graphics are a little bland they are certainly passable. The towns look nice and the skeletons are cool. The sound effects are also decent. At first, its fun to pull out your sword to take on the approaching soldiers and pirates. Shwing! But the game quickly falls apart as you find that all you're playing is another button-masher. See a bad guy? You can watch reruns of Welcome Back Kotter and just start pressing the A button. Don't worry, you'll win.

You have to get from point A to point B and collect as much treasure that just so happens to be lying around on the way. Unfortunately, there are 22 point As to point Bs total in the game so you get bored pretty fast. The story, as it is, is a nice distraction once in awhile and gives you the faint impression of immersion in the game, but only faint. Now, button mashers can be fun, don't get me wrong. I have a great time with Attack of the Clones. But AotC has a number of moves and attacks that give it some variety. Pirates only gives you a swift and slightly damaging attack or a strong swipe. Not exactly deep.
The game is made a bit better by its seafaring battles. In traditional pirate style you can helm a ship, cannons and all, and take to the high seas where you do battles with the soldiers and fellow pirates. The control scheme is straight forward with the control pad moving you in each direction and the trigger buttons firing cannons on the left and right sides. There's a bit of strategy here since you sometimes moves faster than your opponent and its not like you can turn on a dime. So there's a lot of positioning of your ship and firing as you swerve by your prey. Another nice touch is, the longer you keep your finger on the trigger the farther your cannonball flies. Alas the ship battles are few and far between. Soon enough you're back on land where all you have to do is hit the A key and climb ledges until you get to the next plot point.

Pirates is a password game. You need to enter a keyword to access levels. But instead of simple words that you might remember you get long strings of irrelevant letters and numbers. Level 4's code is TGJ3T5PB5N. Very irritating. And made more so by the fact that the last password isn't available, so you either have to write it down or have a "Beautiful Mind."

The game also lacks the one thing that could have saved it, humor. Unlike the film there's no wit to the dialogue or the situations. Considering the humor was a central part of the film I have to conclude that either the developers never read the film's script or they made a conscious decision to distance themselves from the Hollywood effort. Regardless the result is a bland game which should have been brimming with sass. As it stands, all you're left with are sore fingers from frustrating and unsuccessful levels -- and a desire for your money back. Well, there's always the sequel.
The nautical battles are okay. But linear missions and button-mashing bring down what could have been a decent game. Arr matey.

Rating: 4.5 Heavily Flawed

* The product in this article was sent to us by the developer/company for review.


About Author

Ben Zackheim was born Ben Zackheim sometime before 1980 and after 1960 which characterizes him not at all. He's a writer of reviews, comics and screenplays, but aren't we all? Luxuries like food and shoes mean nothing to him. He's married to the most beautiful woman in the world, Robin, who reads all his reviews before he sends them in and says "Are you really going to write that for the public to read?" But I assure her no one reads my reviews anyway, only Charlie's, so it's kind of like a tree in the forest (without the cute little fuzzy things who smell their own poop - wait, then again there is Charlie...) She's a cross between Gillian Anderson and Hillary Clinton, which is a monster I'd love to play in Monster Rancher Advance 2. Photos are available upon request for a small fee. I'm currently writing this bio but have no plans beyond that. View Profile

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