Kaptain Brawe: A Brawe New World is an interesting creature. First developed as a point-and-click adventure game for the PC, it has been ported to the iPhone, iPod Touch, and iPad. The initial download is free, but don’t be fooled: once you finish the tutorial area, you’ll be faced with a fee of $4.99 if you wish to continue playing.
That aside, what makes it interesting is the strange mix of styles which go into the game. You begin with a bit of background, as the game explains how one man’s invention of an interstellar drive helped the nations of the Earth expand to the edge of the universe, colonizing other planets and beginning industries there. Eventually, space pirates– known here as Kribbs– emerged, thus leading to the formation of a union of the planets, who form a space police force. In fact, it’s quite similar to the backstory told in the original Metroid, in that regard, which makes these next details all the more interesting.
A house owned by an illiterate.
You soon move on the the bridge of one space police ship, but even before that, you can already tell that this futuristic tale has a different feel from such science-fiction staples as Star Wars, Star Trek, or Metroid. Rather, the feel seems rustic, almost antiquated– what’s old is new again. Visually, it reminds us of other point-and-click adventure games such as those from LucasArts or Telltale Games– sort of like Monkey Island, but in space. How else can you describe the sight of a spaceship equipped with a pot-bellied stove and a robot made of wood?
And then there is the final ingredient: your lead role and protagonist for this story is none other than Captain Zapp Brannigan. Well, not literally. But Cap– er, Kaptain Brawe feels like a complete expy of the Futurama character, albeit with a much nicer uniform and a pretty rocking red beard. Visual differences aside, if one reads Brawe’s dialogue in the voice of Zapp, it just feels damn near perfect. However, his considerably more competent sidekick not only knows that Brawe is a semi-illiterate moron, but is pretty much willing to tell him as much during his frequent bouts of frustration at his commanding officer’s ineptitude.
Gameplay is your typical point-and-click adventure fare, which provides ample opportunity for character interactions, with players often choosing to get straight to the point, or respond a little more “in-character” to some entertaining results (and even some achievements). Beyond dialogue, there is a lot of searching the game’s various areas for items you need, and combining them with other items, characters, or bits of scenery.
Come out, come out, wherever you are.
This can provide rewarding results at times when you’re able to piece together a puzzle, but like other games in the genre, it also provides frustration when your progress is completely halted by rather obtuse combinations which can only result from abstract leaps in logic. What clues there are can be useless, and sometimes the obvious combinations yield nothing (one would think a hammer and a particularly noteworthy nail would have some correlation, but no). As a result, it’s basically a fun game until you get stuck, at which point you’ll want to keep a guide at arm’s reach.
The only other real issue with the game is that one might argue it isn’t the greatest fit for the small screen, as touching certain areas to perform certain actions can be troublesome. You can zoom in by spreading two fingers, which also gives a better look at the game’s artwork, but it remains a minor nuisance. If you play the HD version on the iPad, you won’t have to worry about this issue.
There is also a “?” button, which briefly highlights which items/characters/areas can be touched to activate things. It might not even be as much of an issue if not for Kaptain Brawe being an on-screen character, moving wherever you touch, unlike Phoenix Wright, who remains off-camera as you look around for yourself.
Incidentally, for masters of the game (or just those who want a real challenge), there is also a more difficult mode with no hints and less info to go on. In the end, while it feels as though the developers borrowed a few pieces here and there from other franchises, the end result is still pretty good, and that’s what counts.