When I was young a had a list of things I wanted to become when I grew up. I wanted to be a cowboy, or a spaceman, or a ghostbuster, or a pirate. A pirate with an eye patch, a peg leg and a distinguished eye for pieces of eight, not to mention a squawking pet parrot and an unquenchable thirst for rum. Nowadays the word pirate conjures a different image. No longer do we think of the caricature framed by our childhoods but instead of those who threaten international seas for a living.
Around nine years ago, the father of JJ Williams – a member of 12 Gauge Studios – had has boat sunk by Haitian pirates. When 12 Gauge Studios formed five years later in 2009, it set out to build a game based on this experience as a means of fighting back. That game was Pirate Blitz.
Fast forward four years, after a few scrapped prototypes, and we find 12 Gauge’s iOS free-to-play “labor of love” as it sails today. Before I go any further, I want to acknowledge how easy it can be to flood articles involving pirates with over-worn cliches and (silver) tongue-in-cheek puns – I’ll try my best to avoid them. Starting now.
The premise of Pirate Blitz is simple: stay alive for as long as possible. In doing so you’ll have to combat a number of pirate ships, overhead bomber planes and blimps, on-shore gun turrets, and heavy-artillery vessels, all the while attempting to rescue surviving lifeboats, without allowing your health to drop to zero. The game’s art style, —a cel-shaded aesthetic, lends the cast of characters personality, even though a little more dialogue overall wouldn’t have went amiss.
Penned in by the ‘Stormy Seas’ – a peripheral area in which you gradually lose health – the battlefield is nothing spectacular in its size but is big enough to accommodate multiple-vessel carnage, without feeling claustrophobic. The left side of the touchpad operates your boat, whilst the left steers the automatic guns. If players are ever in a pinch, a handy rechargeable bomb icon obliterates everything on screen, giving you and your crew room to breath and collect any power-ups which appear in the fallout.
During combat enemy ships can harness and then board your boat which prompts brief first-person mini-games whereupon you must rid the deck of trespassers. So long as you’re on the move, your points total will increase, more so when engaging combat. But as points are only relevant to the high score table, doubloons are the real prize of each bout.
For doubloons are the currency needed to unlock Pirate Blitz’s plethora of upgrades, some of which include: new boats and enhancements such as greater speed and better health; boosts, such as resurrection and doubloon accumulators; and ‘Super Bombs’ which summon creatures from the watery depths of the ocean floor. Impatient players can purchase extra doubloons with real-life money, but those who want to earn them the old fashioned way have that option too.
Pirate Blitz is not incredibly deep, but never tries to be and, perhaps more importantly, never needs to be. Those looking for a quick thrill will enjoy the intensity of each individual battle, and a nine-tiered story mode with a host of unlockable achievements will keep those looking for something more substantial happy. Pirate Blitz is a game for the house, the train, the plane or the pan, whatever your style. It’s a decent topdown shooter, all encompassed by a strikingly chic art style.
Visit the game’s official website.[review pros="easy to understand mechanics, pleasing art style, fair in-app purchase model" cons="story was a bit flat, decent mechanics at best" score="80"]