Opinions can be deceiving. That is something that I’ve learned over the course of the reviews I’ve done at Indie Gamer Team. What looks and sounds like a not-so-very good game in the trailer might just end up surprising me. This was a lesson I thought I had learned with my Mars Underground review, not to judge a book by its cover but, apparently, it needed reiterating.
Pirates Are BLANKing Awesome seemed to me, at first glance, as little more than one of those flash titles found a dime a dozen on the internet a decade ago. It looked to me like it lacked polish, would control poorly, and I’d get bored of it in ten minutes. I wondered exactly who would pay money for it, truth be told, as I accepted the review. And I’m glad I did accept it.
There’s nothing inherently deep or complicated about Pirates Are BLANKing Awesome and that’s not a bad thing. Everything about its gameplay and its graphics are designed, not to dazzle, but to be fun. After coming out of my Effie review, what looked basic, to my eyes, looked bad. That was something of a hangup of mine I had to overcome.
I might claim not to be a graphics whore, as I still enjoy my original PlayStation titles, and I don’t subscribe to the race towards photo-realism, as I keep playing my 3DS and Wii, but I was certainly acting like one. The simplicity of the graphics had deceived me into making an assumption of quality, all before I had even touched the game. I went in expecting no more than a casual, short, and poorly optimised mess of a game, and that was not what I got.
It is said, “Critics shouldn’t make judgements of value and quality before they’ve played the game,” and that was something I’d have done well to remember because when I finally installed and opened the game, I was blown away. Pirates Are BLANKing Awesome did well in engaging me and making me come back to it. I couldn’t put it down, every time I died I told myself that I would go for just one more sea trip. When that ended in death, I would repeat the promise, rinse and repeat. The design of the game had gripped me. I didn’t think something so simple could be so addicting, but there I was, dying and killing, upgrading and bettering myself with every round.
I think what got me to keep back was just that, the fact that I could see my progress with every death. To vastly improve in such a short amount of time stroked my pleasure centers. It wasn’t just my skills that got better, it was also my equipment. I started out in a dinky, run down boat, dying after less than three pillages, but after five minutes, I had upgraded my ship, within twenty I had upgraded my weapons, and in less than half an hour I was plundering ten or twenty of those same ships before dying. And dying is something that will happen quite often in this game. It’s part of the whole gameplay experience. Quick, one or two bursts before being overwhelmed, followed by a reset, and then there’s new ships to sink and steal from.
There’s something about the simple, focused gameplay that just hits all the right spots for me. I kept playing it for those cheap rushes of enjoyment. People often say that videogames are about progression, and Pirates Are BLANKing Awesome serves as a better example than most. While it did not get to Super Tennis Blast levels, where I played over three hours a day, it did come quite close at points.
It’s interesting because objectively, the game has problems, but I was having so much fun that I tended to ignore them. In its simplicity, I ran into a series of bugs and while that is something I should note, it’s not something that hampered my enjoyment with the game. The game is a series of selectable, long, looping stages where boats randomly spawn and go in the direction of the edges. Control is slippery and imprecise, feeling more like a Micro Machines game, where doing corners without spinning out at full is next to impossible, than a true boat, and being overwhelmed is common, but none of that mattered to me.
It’s flawed, without a doubt, it’s not even close to the perfect game, but it’s probably amidst the most fun I’ve ever had reviewing a title for Indie Gamer Team. I’d say it’s a perfect title for all ages but, though the gameplay itself has nothing objectionable, the cutscenes have a weird adult edge to them. It’s a fun edge, that made me open my mouth in disbelief, but it’s still not appropriate for children.
What I will say, however, is that if you go in with an open mind and find yourself ready to have a power trip, then you’ll have a good time. It’s probably not a very good game objectively, but it’s a fun game, and in the end, isn’t that what matters?
Pirates are BLANKing Awesome was developed by Poorwill Games
It is available on Steam.
A review copy was provided by the developer.
Mcportugalem has awarded Pirates are BLANKing Awesome the Indie Gamer Team Seal of Approval.