When you decide to take on the recognized leader in a genre, it’s best to go in guns blazing. This is the tack that developer Super Hippo took when developing a serious competitor for Kingdom Rush. The result is Pirate Legends TD, a game full of interesting twists on the genre, along with some serious oversights in user friendliness.
It’s easy to mistake Pirate Legends for Kingdom Rush with a pirate motif. The graphics are nearly identical in style, but still look excellent. The game has the same sort of cartoonish sense of humor, and the gameplay is mostly identical as well. Where Pirate Legends succeeds is in taking that familiarity and just adding more.
For one thing, Pirate Legends offers hero characters and NPC combatants. You can hire a fighter pilot to perform regular strafing runs over a canal, or hire natives to patrol around a certain area. It’s a nice touch that adds a greater layer of strategy and depth to the gameplay.
Where Kingdom Rush has rechargeable special moves, Legends offers “relic” powers that include cool tricks like summoning a powerful kraken to swallow up anything above it. There’s also your pirate ship, which has cannons that can be aimed and can send out special attacks, like a cannon-laden turtle. Pirate Legends has all kinds of little additional touches like this that go far beyond merely placing towers at designated spots on the watery map.
The actual towers are mostly similar to Kingdom Rush and other tower defense games. There are 20 main towers in all, each upgradable, and they vary between cannon, riflemen, and magical attacks, along with slime-spilling structures that slow down enemies, and other useful methods of mayhem.
Each successful round earns the player anchors that can be used to purchase upgrades for the various towers and special attacks. Since the game gets hard in a hurry, your smart use of upgrades is imperative to continued survival. Unfortunately, this is also where the game’s biggest problem stems from. While the game is only a buck, players shouldn’t have to worry about microtransaction being shoved at them, yet Pirate Legends does exactly that.
The game isn’t shy about the fact that you can purchase anything upfront with real money, and the spiking difficulty level smacks of a game desperate to take more of your money. This is a real shame, because the rest of Pirate Legends is charming and entertaining, with some real enhancements in the standard tower defense gameplay. While we’re a bit taken aback by the greediness of the game, it’s hard to deny that Pirate Legends isn’t a fun take on tower defense.