We play an awful lot of match-three games at Modojo, and a side effect of this near-obsession is that we've been conditioned into always prioritizing rapid matching under the pressure of a time limit. Scurvy Scallywags, the new game from Ron Gilbert and friends, is a very different proposition, however.
Despite its comical pirate presentation, this is a game that wants you to think very carefully indeed before making your next move. It's true that you're looking for as many lovely match-ups as possible, while keeping an eye out for even juicier combos, but there's a depth of strategy here that makes for a very refreshing change of pace.
As you swap adjacent tiles to create matches, replacement tiles swoop in from the edges to fill the gap, so the first shock is that you're not always juggling the sort of cascade gameplay you'll likely be accustomed to. And while you're matching up gold and junk objects to sell, you're also being hunted. Now that's interesting.
Your piratey hero isn't alone on the grid, you see, and there are static and roaming enemies to be avoided or assaulted as each character moves around the screen in response to match-ups. Your pirate starts off with only a limited amount of attacking power, but if you can match up cutlasses you'll boost his attacking power and get him battle-ready.
Until then, you have to play a very delicate game of cat and mouse. You need to dodge the enemies in the early days of each level, but oh goodness that's a lovely match of five gold coins ready for the taking - tempting, but sometimes dangerous. After you've increased your pirate's power, you then need to get him into position so that he's adjacent to the weaker enemy.
Once battle commences, the two will scrap it out, and you'll get a nice treasure drop if you win. Pick the treasure up and the game presents a sort of jackpot machine where you can win extra gold, resources, or additional attacking power. At every opportunity, the game wants to shower you with riches and new upgrade opportunities.
Those upgrades might be in the form of equipment that enhances your pirate's stats, or new pirate ships you can craft that provide him with a few extra passive boosts. You can even upgrade his defensive and offensive prowess on the battlefield, using the XP gained from leveling up.
All of this very compelling gameplay is wrapped up in some of the smartest looking - and sounding - environments we've enjoyed on our mobiles, and the story is a hoot. Throw in the trademark Gilbert humor, and you've got a mix that will prove irresistible for any fan of match-three gaming.
What's Hot:A refreshingly strategic match-three game, gorgeously presented, and with all of the trademark Ron Gilbert silliness everyone expects.
What's Not:A minor complaint, but the game is sometimes so colorful, it's hard to keep track of your strategy.