Pirate Pop Plus Review

Pirate Pop Plus brings players back to the age of simplistic arcade games with a dash of Gameboy nostalgia to boot.  Dadako Studios prides themselves on bringing retro gameplay to the masses, and it really shows with their newest release.  The screen shows a controller with a D-Pad and a single button, with the gameplay on the screen in the middle.  Best yet, the display on the gaming screen is in that old Gameboy’s green and black color palette.

Pirate Pop Plus Review

Pirate Pop Plus Review

Title: Pirate Pop Plus
Platform: Nintendo Wii U & 3DS, PC [Reviewed]
Genre: Arcade Title
Developer: Dadako Studios
Publisher: 13AM Games
Players: 1
Rating: E for Everyone
Release Date: (Wii U & New 3DS) October 20, 2016. (Steam PC) November 4, 2016.
Price: $4.99 (Cross-Buy on Wii U and New 3DS)

How to Play

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The gameplay is simple and straightforward for Pirate Pop Plus.  The Bubble Pirate pops up on screen and drops a giant bubble.  You are then tasked to use a harpoon weapon to attack the bubble, breaking it in half.  Continue that process on the smaller bubbles until they disappear while the Bubble Pirate reappears to drop another giant bubble on you.  That is all there is to it, and it is that simplicity that makes it so easy and enjoyable to pick up and play for a few minutes.  

As your playthrough progresses, bubbles break into more smaller bubbles when popped and the speed increases to add in the difficulty.  There are power-ups and treasures to collect while you play to spice things up.  The power-ups include a gun that shoots two lasers at fast speed, which quickly takes out the bubbles and harpoon chains that lock into place to create barriers.

The Gravity System

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The biggest gameplay element that adds variety to the game is the gravity system.  Every so often the Bubble Pirate changes the direction, in which the gravity flows. This pushes you to stand on the walls or the ceiling, attempting to disorient you.  This is where the gameplay has a little variety, because you can platform on the bubbles, as you transition from one gravity focus to the next.  Allowing you to build a combo in an easier fashion.  

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The game teaches you through the gameplay that your focus should be on accuracy more than overall speed.  You have to wait for your harpoon to make contact with either a bubble or a wall before you can shoot another.  You also build a combo with every consecutive hit you land, growing your high score with a nice run.  Letters occasionally drop, leading to a bonus game if you can spell “BONUS” during your run.  Making it rain with coins and taking all threat off of the screen for a short period of time.

Unlocking Extras

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The coins are used to unlock several aspects of the gaming experience, but most are just cosmetic.  You can buy different colors for the background, d-pad, buttons or the game itself.  Different soundtracks can also be purchased.  There are a few new characters that you can buy, which do have a small impact on the game.  Each one of the characters has their own attribute change, like having an extra heart at the start.  

This is the one downside to Pirate Pop Plus, there are clear lack of goals to achieve in-game.  There are a few achievements you can unlock while you play, and a local leaderboard but that is it.  It would have been nice to have some additional objectives you could work towards while playing. The lack of an online leaderboard also seems like a misstep, but not something that should push you away from a purchase.

Quality of Sound

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Sound quality is just as simplistic as the gameplay.  Blips and bloops and the sound of your harpoon is surrounded by fast paced chiptune music that sends your brain back to the late 1980’s.  There are four different soundtracks you can purchase with in-game currency. This helps switch it up as you play multiple rounds.  The soundtrack is also available for purchase separately as well.

Pros

Easy to pick up controls

Great nostalgic feel

Cons

No online leaderboard

Not enough long term goals to extend gameplay

Final Rating

Overall Thoughts: 6 Out of 10. Pirate Pop Plus is enjoyable in its simplicity, and is well worth the small price tag.  It is easy for anyone to pick up and play a few rounds without having to dedicate a huge block of time.  I would recommend you purchase it on the New Nintendo 3DS as portable gaming seems to be the best way to play this game.  The lack of long term objectives and an online leaderboard hinder the title. However, the old school simplicity makes it worth the $5 price tag.  This is the style of game that would be perfect for mobile gaming, and I hope there is a plan to port it to smart phones in the future.

For the sake of transparency: The game publisher provided a copy of the game for review purposes.