Pirate Tales is a game from Phone Ninjas which offers, in their own words, “breath-taking sea battles against ships of different navies.” The game is set in the Caribbean Seas which is visually just an expanse of blue, but forms the basis of the game’s narrative. The levels are interlinked by this narrative, which explains why each battle is being fought and also gives background information about the protagonist, the role of which the player assumes. The unnamed protagonist has recently escaped some kind of prison and, having enticed fellow former-inmates with promises of “gold, rum and women,” has ‘borrowed’ a ship from Her Majesty’s Navy and commandeers it into battle.
After the narrative introduction, the player is thrust into the game. There is no tutorial to be found, but then the controls are simple and easily discoverable; tapping on the screen moves the player’s ship to that location and tapping (or holding) the cannon button in the bottom right of the screen fires a barrage of cannonballs. There are some things to watch out for here, potential pitfalls: be aware of the directionality of the ship when moving it, as it takes the shortest route there and that does not always mean that the cannons are facing enemy ships quite right; and the number of cannonballs is limited, but replenishes, meaning you cannot spray wildly and continuously.
I would like to see controls involving dragging the ship instead. I did not always find tap-to-move-here controls to be ideal at times. It meant that occasionally my ship was badly-aligned for firing at enemy ships and adjustments could only be made via moving elsewhere and moving back. This was a convoluted way to adjust, easily fixed by being able to rotate by dragging on the screen.
The completion of each level earns gold. Whilst in the narrative the rum is to satiate crew members’ desire for rum and female company, in practice in the game it is spent on upgrades after each level. There are several things to upgrade, including hull strength, cannonball damage and crew size and so on. It would have been nice to see a statistical breakdown (percentage or numerical increase/decrease) of what each upgrade would do, but in the earlier levels I generally had sufficient gold to make multiple upgrades. Although I did not notice significant changes, I am sure that had I not upgraded the damage caused by my cannonballs, for example, I would have struggled to clear the seas of enemy naval ships as their hulls strengthened too.
Within gameplay, the aim is to destroy naval fleets. The main way to do this is by way of cannonballs; face an opposing ship with port or starboard and the game will recognise which side you wish to fire from based on where opposing ships are in relation to you, so all that remains is to hit the cannon icon. However, and I like this feature, getting close to a ship will initiate a skirmish of sorts, where the crews will fight it out. This will cause significant damage (more than normal, unless you regularly try to intercept cannonballs with a wooden hull) but can be good for finishing off weak enemies, without trying to reposition your own ship to fire at them.
Graphically, the game looks quite good. It is not stunning, but there is nothing wrong with the graphics – some levels are a bit dark, but adjusting brightness levels will fix that. My gripe was that the advert was a bit too prominent, overlapping quite a large portion of the screen, but then that corner generally went unused. I reckon the advert looked a bit larger than in other games, but then they have to fund it somehow – although Age of Sorcery does a good job with advert in that it is small and unobtrusive (yet visible) but disappears after a little while.
I found the levels a bit too similar for my liking, although the number and difficulty of ships do vary between them as a form of level differentiation. Despite this, the game does provide for some fun moments, and at the good price of free if you can tolerate adverts. I do feel it has the potential to become a better game by better differentiating levels, perhaps adding some other task which is not just to sink other ships or find a greater purpose for all of it besides the loose narrative. So far, though, it has a good premise and executes well wha it tries to do. In its current state, though, the game is worth a look – and has the potential to improve.
Pirate Tales Trailer
Pirate Tales Screenshots
Version Under Review: 22.214.171.124
Pirate Tales is a FREE game for Windows Phone 7
This game is ad-supported; there is also an ad-free version available for $0.99.
Our Rating for Pirate Tales