Friday, September 2, 2011

Freebie Friday: Puzzle Pirates

Genre: Puzzle, MMO
Developer: Three Rings Designs
Publisher: Three Rings Designs/Ubisoft
Release year: 2003

Freebie type: MMO
Paid option: Real-Money currency to actually play the game.

Zolgar paid: Nothing! (and it was still too much!)
Beaten: my head against a wall, maybe. It'd be more fun.
Zolgar's rating: 2/10
Replayability: MMO

OK, so I wasn't even going to review this steaming pile of guano, because.. well, it's a steaming pile of guano that I don't enjoy playing... however, there's that whole deadline thing, and I decided I'd rather review guano, than be late.. again.

Initially, I saw Puzzle Pirates was freshly released on Steam, decided it looked like a nice easy one to do cheap and dirty *insert 'your mom' joke* review of. Well, right off the bat, I run in to problems. Namely the Steam version (as of writing this) doesn't bloody work. Honestly, some stupid frelling java glitch.

So I go first to the Steam forums, no help there, other than a lot of people griping about the same problem, so I meander over to Puzzle Pirate's website and downloaded and installed the game. That's a minute 30 seconds of my life wasted.. 'thankfully' this time it worked.

So I make a character, the customization and graphics are crap.. but hey, it's a free to play, so what do I expect? As long as the gameplay is fun that's all that matters.

I jump in to the world, where I've given a worthless tutorial, and then told to go on missions. Now, I knew going in to this, that it'd be what they like to call puzzle games.

So let me say this again:
Puzzles require logic to solve. Using what is known, and the abilities at your disposal to solve a certain problem.

Is not puzzles, it's luck and or skill.

The 'puzzles' in Puzzle Pirates, are mix of luck and skill games, with a side order of puzzle elements, occasionally. They are still far more about quick thinking, adapting to changes in the game board, and using what you have available at this exact moment.. oh and did I mention luck? Lots and lots of luck.

And the problem is, most of them are not even very well done.

The puzzles used are:
Anyone remember Snood? Or maybe Bubble Bobble (or some such?) Yeah, it's that kind, shoot a randomly determined colored ball at an ever encroaching wave of balls, match 3 or more colors balls and clear them, dropping any.
This one is a PvP version, where as you drop balls, you attack your foe with them. Also there's an option with 2 turrets, controlled by the left and right mouse buttons (OK, I'll grant that that's pretty cool).

Bejeweled. Yep, Bejeweled, except you can plan out moves and make moves without matches. Otherwise it's not even 20% as entertaining as Bejeweled.

Something that's almost like Tetris, but.. not. Essentially stacking up blocks and then, when you get lucky enough to get the right piece you destroy the ones of a certain color touching each other, and attack your foes.. Generally just boring.

Another 'falling blocks' puzzle, this one your objective is to fill certain colored squares with certain colors blocks. Not a competitive games, and frankly, boring.

Then there's “Carpentry” a “fill in the hole with the provided blocks” puzzle.. except you can overlap, and, in fact you have to overlap due to how the game works, only providing you with 3 randomly determined blocks at a time.

Oh, and if you happen to actually start enjoying the puzzles, every like.. 2 minutes a stupid board pops up for 30 seconds, locking you out of your puzzle, which lets you know the progress of everyone on the ship. Maybe we'd progress more if you bloody well stopped interrupting us, eh?

I could keep going, but suffice it to say there's a better version of almost every single one of these “puzzle” games available on most Flash Game dumps.

Now, I'll admit, that Flash game dumps don't have the nice fun MMO element...

Well, Puzzle Pirates has a user controlled economy. What does that mean? Unless you have a lot of money, you're frelled. Totally utterly frelled. Most things you can buy cost several hundred, if not several thousand, Pieces of Eight (main currency) and some Dubloons (Real Money currency) too. And Dubloons, they CAN be obtained with PoE, at an insane rate, or purchased at the low price of $20 for 90.

The only positive thing I can say is that it seems, at present, there's no uber items that can only be obtained with Dubloons. That's a small saving grace.

On the flipside of that though, you pretty much have to get Dubloons in order to unlock certain minigames. I covered almost all of those available at the start, there's about that many more you need Badges for Badges cost Dubloons. Anything beyond the ultra, most basic (boring) element of the game, you need Dubloons.

This, boys and girls, is an example of how not to do a Free-To-Play MMO supported by a Real Money Currency house. It amazes me it's been around for 8 years now. Better games have closed up shop in that time. (Dungeon Runners, how I miss thee.. *siiiigh*)

In closing. If you're a Steam player, and they get the frelling game working, you can pursue.. wait for... Brace yourself..
Two Hundred and Twenty achievements.
WTF? Are they on crack? Scrolling through the list, most of them look like the every so classic “Hey, you're playing the game!” crap.. Well, I guess they needed some way to keep people playing this pile of guano.

Since I suppose it should be asked “What would make you give it a better score?”
Get rid of the damned progress board. It's annoying as hell.
Make the minigames not all slow paced and suck.
Make it so we didn't have to pay real money, or play for many hours just to access the rest of the minigames.

Screenshots stole shamelessly from Steam, mostly because I couldn't find where this pile of guano hid the ones I took.

“Two Hundred and Twenty achievements? I think I'll have more fun reading the list than I did playing the game.”

Please, for the love of the FSM, don't go looking for this game, save yourself!

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