Yar har fiddle-dee-dee. Just when you’ve convinced yourself that Internet overexposure has whittled the appeal of pirates down to something that’s as interesting as bog water, out comes Plunderland by JohnnyTwoShoes. In this side-scrolling title filled with destruction, cannon fire, strategy, and booty, you are a pirate– and it couldn’t be any sweeter.
Plunderland is simple to pick up and play, but sea dogs of all skill levels will have a swashbucklin’ time. The object of the game is more or less stated in its title: Pillage, plunder, loot, and then upgrade your ship to wreck landlubbers’ days with more efficiency. Not everybody loves a pirate, though. Your adversaries include island natives who are pretty handy with rocks, and the British navy, history’s greatest spoilsports.
Ripe fer the takin’.
The gameplay is reminiscent in some ways to titles like Angry Birds and Crush the Castle: Your pirate crew fires cannonballs at the British navy and topples their towers with a helping hand from physics. Tiling the iPhone back and forth sends you swishing over the waves, and dragging your finger adjusts your firing trajectory. Defeated enemies drop loot that must be dragged and dropped into your ship. When your men are thrown overboard– and they will be– you must likewise pluck them from a watery grave and put them safely on deck.
The ride through Plunderland isn’t entirely smooth, however. The game is easy to dive into, but at times you feel like you’re sailing without a sextant. A tiny bit more on-screen instruction would be welcome at points. What’s more, getting your ship to simultaneously retreat and return fire in the heat of a battle can be a finger-tangling experience. And bringing up the pause menu involves tiling your iPhone a certain way instead of hitting an on-screen button.
Those are minor complaints, hardly comparable to a raging case of scurvy. Plunderland’s few shortcomings are forgotten in the thrill of sending yet another British vessel down into the drink. And when you set eyes on the smooth graphics and their adorable ragdoll physics, you’ll be hooked. Ever scruffed a pirate like a kitten and thrown him around? Now you can.
(Slide To Play apologizes for the gratuitous pirate references contained in this review.)