Imitation is the sincerest form of flattery – or so I’ve heard. That might explain why 13AM Games and Dadako’s latest effort, Pirate Pop Plus, is a variation of Capcom’s classic Buster Bros., which recently came back to life as DotEmu’s Pang Adventures, but with a high-definition twist.
That’s not to say the game’s a direct copy, though. While Pirate Pop Plus definitely has the Buster style of gameplay, the presentation is pretty original, revolving around a pirate instead of a young boy seeking adventure, and pitting him against ongoing rounds of bubble challenges, along with a few power-ups thrown in for good measure.
Oh, and there’s another neat new element as well – the ever-changing field of gravity. The nasty pirate that’s throwing you for a loop in each stage will occasionally shift the ground you’re walking on, forcing you to adjust as bubbles come at you from a new direction. You only have a limited amount of hearts per run, so you’ll want to avoid getting hit as much as possible.
Pirate Pop Plus has a certain charm to it, but, sadly, it runs out way too soon. That’s because there’s not much to the game when it comes to the long-term, as you can pretty much conquer the Normal mode once you reach around 100,000 points or so. There’s also a Hyper mode thrown in for good measure, but it’s pretty much just the core game with double the point value and only one heart for your character. Pretty much a “one and you’re done” sort of matter.
There are unlockables you can attain in the shop, using coins that you pick up over the course of your adventure, but they’re not much. There are new characters you can play as, but they don’t offer a diversity of gameplay to the overall product. There are also music tunes to get, as well as achievements to unlock, but, really, it’s kind of on the short side. That’s kind of expected for a game that sells for $5 (and features cross-buy compatibility across both the Wii U and New 3DS), but I would’ve liked to have been surprised by more content.
And that’s another thing – why isn’t a game like this compatible with the older 3DS? It’s not like it’s breaking the system hardware with its simple yet likable Game Boy-ish presentation. What’s more, it doesn’t even take up that much of the screen, with the display control options bordering the left and right sides. It may bum a few players out, particularly if they haven’t upgraded to the new hardware yet.
Everything else about Pirate Pop is suitable, with fun music, charming old-school graphics and local leaderboards, so you can challenge friends if they feel like taking a turn. But that’s about all the game really has to offer. To some, that’ll be enough, but others may feel like this Pirate has taken them for a ride.
Pirate Pop Plus has its simple pleasures, but in the face of superior competition like Pang Adventures, it comes up just a bit short. Game Boy fans may want to give it a look, especially for its cheap price tag and entertaining gameplay, but don’t expect a fantastic voyage across the sea.