Pirate themes in games are common to the point of disinterest, but some games break the mold and use the theme effectively. Pirate Gunner HD is one of those games. It has a polish we would like to see more often in the App Store, and its three modes are all capable of holding their own.
The game’s core mechanic is a grid of differently shaped fuses, with match lights on one side and cannon balls on the other. Your job, as the gunner of the Dark Thunder pirate ship, is to connect the fuse bits across the grid in order to fire at the enemy at hand.
In the Story mode, you progress through the ranks as an upstart gunner helping your captain find a legendary island. In the twenty levels, your enemies vary wildly from rival pirates to forts to a yeti with a penchant for flinging penguins. The plot is enjoyable and humorous, and the animation contributes to the game’s polished nature.
Name those knots.
The other two modes are Puzzle and Arcade. The former consists of 50 puzzles requiring connecting match lights and cannon balls in a limited number of moves. The latter is a consecutive string of all of the story mode battles without pause or repair between fights. The puzzle mode is stronger than the arcade mode, but we were just happy to see alternative modes that felt like more than afterthoughts.
One of the problems with a well-polished game is that minor errors are magnified, which happened with Pirate Gunner and its few minor typos, as well as its scoring system and its unnecessarily high numbers. Another issue is the difficulty curve, which starts very low in the story mode, before suddenly inspiring you to throw your iDevice across the room with a sharply increased difficulty.
Overall, Pirate Gunner HD is a great choice for any fans of puzzles, pirates, or enemies of the yeti. While we would always like to see more content in a game like this, there is enough to keep puzzlers coming back, and we don’t think there’s much to let them down.