Shiver me timbers, this be a pirate app

First impressions

Arrrrrr … with Pirates Week just around the corner, it made sense to us to go a-hunting for a pirate-based app. We wanted something with a bit of action that wouldn’t be too difficult to pick up, as we’ve discovered over the years that we’re a bit of a lazy swashbuckler.

We came across Pirate Gunner, a game that revolves around the story of a lowly deck swab who needs to run the guns on the pirate ship, sinking the enemy so he can rise through the ranks.

What struck us about this game is that it seemed fun, relatively easy and best of all, the full version was free for a limited time. That was all we needed to push us over the edge and download it.

How it works

The first screen is where you choose to “Start Game” and that brings you to a menu offering different modes. “Story mode” takes you through the levels of the swab earning his sea legs, and “puzzle mode” features 50 individual quick puzzles. Each mode has Captain Red Beard and the swab exchanging dialogue that very clearly explains what you need to do to play.

In fact, at the beginning you are given hints galore, so there’s really no excuse for not understanding the way it works by the time you’re left on your own.

Down the right hand side are the seven cannons, and down the left hand side, the lit matches. The grid between both features squares with fuse pieces that are straight, curved and knotted. In order to launch one or more cannons, the pieces have to be joined together any which way to join a match with a cannon.

You change the angle of the pieces by tapping each fuse portion. Once a complete link is made, the captain yells “FI-YERRRR!!” and your vessel Dark Thunder lobs a cannonball toward (in Act 1) Fortunate One; an interesting name.

You are also shown how to use your cannons to even better effect when you hook up multiples and fire them. As the cap’n says “There be three-way and four-way connecting fuse bits, allowing you to fire more than one cannon at the same time!”

Once the game begins, the battle is on! You can see your cannons launching each time they do, but as you’re fumbling to get your fuse bits lined up for the next shot, Fortunate One isn’t just sitting like a dead duck in the water. It is firing at you as well, so time is of the essence. Your scores are displayed at the top so you can see how you are faring against your enemy.

As you get better at the game, you’ll see that if you fire multiple cannons you gain extra power and points. For example, when you fire four at a time, the cannons all turn red and your attack power doubles for the next time you fire them. Fire five at a time, and they turn purple, tripling your attack power!

Ignite 15 or more fuse bits at the same time, and you’ll earn an explosive which will increase your fire power when you use it.

Get past the first round, sink the now (Un)Fortunate One, and you’re promoted to Battle Sailor. You also therefore unlock the “arcade mode”, which seems to involve a lot of bad weather from the git-go.

As you make your way through “story mode” you’ll encounter legendary pirates such as Anne Bonny on the ship The Rose Thorne, and large sea monsters like the giant octopus that uses its tentacles as weapons as you try to take it down.

The enemy gets more wily with every passing level, so you’d better have your wits about you as you advance through the ranks or you’ll be visiting Davy Jones’ Locker. Blistering barnacles!

When we played

We have to admit that when we saw the simple, fun banter between the captain and his underling, we figured this game was really more for wee kids, so we didn’t expect to be that challenged by Pirate Gunner. We smiled and yes, yes, yessed to ourselves as they cunningly wove instructions into the story. This was probably going to be way too easy for us, but we had to remind ourselves that we were playing this for the greater good.

By the time we were up against Seven Arms (the great octopus that had lost a tentacle at the hands of Red Beard) we realised we were a lot more hooked than we thought we would be. We could almost hear precious seconds ticking by as we desperately spun fuse pieces in their squares to join each other.

As our eyes flew to the top of the screen, we saw the beast hit our Dark Thunder with a tentacle. Avast! He eventually went down, but we had to fire multiple cannons to ensure victory! As we played the game, a friend of ours came to our shoulder, and before we knew it, they were handing out advice as well. Turns out this app isn’t just for wee wenches and pirates – the grown ones like it, too.

Final thoughts

This game is fun problem solving for kids and adults, and you’ll be amazed how you feel your heart rate go up as you race to get those fuses joined and lit. Good game to play with your children because it’s part story, part puzzle and all action.

Pros: Full version is free for a limited time. Very easy to understand thanks to lots of instruction. Nice amount of levels and different puzzles.

Cons: Probably won’t hold adults’ attention in the long-term. The music fits the pirate theme very well, but becomes repetitive after a while.

Pirate Gunner
Cost: Free (even for the full version for a limited time)
Seller: Black Pearl Games Limited
Devices: iPad, iPod Touch, iPhone, Android

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