Review: Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty

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Plenty of match-three games have captured my attention over the years. I can’t even begin to track the amount of time I’ve spent playing the many Bejeweled variations. Countless hours have been lost playing Puzzle Quest on the PSP. Most recently my fix has come from Treasures of Montezuma Blitz on the Vita. There is something fun yet mindless about matching gems to earn gold or XP in an attempt to complete a quest or best another player’s score.

Beep Games, developer behind the iPad game The Big Big Castle, recently released its latest iOS game, Scurvy Scallywags, which has quickly taken over the top spot in my match-three game library. Mashing themes of a Broadway theatre production with a grand pirate adventure, Scallywags takes players through a series of puzzle battles set across a map of tropical and frozen islands. Each battle consists of matching various item tiles by swiping left, right, up or down, and when three items of the same type combine, the row or column shifts whichever direction the item was swiped.

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During each match a variable number of enemies appear on screen, and the pirate you control needs to equal or best their number in order to defeat them in battle. The key item to attempt to match are swords which build up the attack power of your pirate. Quests are also offered at the end of each battle via a Stage Manager. These quests include collecting random oddities like Foam Rubber hands, Donkey poop, Bandaids, and Bottles of Grog (just to name a few). Each battle provides XP for your pirate and each time a level is gained, the opportunity to apply a bonus to one of several important stats (Dodge, Crit, Power, etc) adds an RPG dimension to the game.

Not only are there quests and a leveling structure, there is also other meta level game constructs. One is the option to collect various pirate garments which also add bonuses to the stats mentioned above. The other meta game, is the collection of ship parts which can be used to further boost the various stats. Building different ships also shows up in the overworld map when sailing from one island to the next. While match three is the main mechanic used throughout the game, the overall goal for completing the game is to collect the 16 Sea Shantys which are wonderfully voiced, ribald pirate poems.

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Scurvy Scallywags does offer in-app purchases, but none of them are forced upon gamers and the majority of them utilize currency earned in game. One other thing to note is the fact that when the game is dismissed (for doing things like answering a phone call, or other non-game related activities) and then loaded up again, the game board picks right back up where it left off. Nothing is more frustrating than playing a game on a mobile device, having to switch out of the game, and then return to find that all progress has been lost. Arrrgh!

One of the other interesting aspects to the game is the fact that if your pirate loses all of his health in battle, and you don’t want to pay real money for gold, a new pirate is created, but all progress from the previous pirate remains (except for level progression). Other than the XP loss, all weapons, gear, boats and Sea Shanty’s remain intact. This is great for folks like me who can’t stomach the idea of paying to win. The downside to this is that you start the game over in many ways and have to grind your way back through areas previously played, but overall that’s not a bad trade off for not spending additional money. Scurvy Scallywags is such a fantastic match-three game that you’ll only look forward to any opportunity to continue playing.

BuyIt

Pros:
+ Quick match-three battles in a fun pirate theme
+ Plenty of quests and collectibles to keep things interesting
+ Fun Sea Shanty songs
+ In-app purchases aren’t annoying and aren’t strictly “pay to win”

Cons:
– Dying without paying forces a restart from the beginning which can be a bit “grindy”

Game Info:
Platform: iOS
Publisher: Beep Games
Developer: Beep Games
Release Date: 6/6/2013
Genre: Match-3/RPG
Age Rating: 9+
Players: 1
Source: Review code provided by publisher

About the Author

Tim has been playing video games for more than 20 years. He manages to find time to game in between raising three kids and working as a network administrator. Follow Tim on Twitter @freemantim.