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Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates

Score: 92%
ESRB: Teen
Publisher: Ubisoft Entertainment
Developer: Three Rings
Media: CD/1
Players: MMO
Genre: MMORPG/ Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:

Iíve seen and played lots of Massively Multiplayer Online games over the last few years, but nothing is quite like Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates. A Massively Multiplayer Online Puzzle Game, Puzzle Pirates is truly a unique experience.

Since Puzzle Pirates was, initially, a sort of hobbyist project done in the groupsí spare time, the graphics are not state of the art. Thatís not to say they are poor or unpleasant, but they are 2D and not very flashy. Itís not really that big a deal though. The art style used for the game works very well and even the Lego man-esque look of the player characters seems fitting within the context of the game. Plus, itís a puzzle game; fancy pseudo-3D graphics would be neat, but who really needs them? It also means the game runs on all but the oldest systems out there.

As far as sound effects go, Puzzle Pirates uses them very sparingly. You get a few bleeps and clicks when you select objects in the world and for events during puzzles. Thereís also no music at all. I was a little disappointed at the lack of some good old fashioned pirate tunes, but the game works well enough without them.


Gameplay:

As the name suggests, puzzles are the mainstay of Puzzle Pirates. Some usual conventions of MMOs apply. You have an inventory... sort of. It mainly consists of cloths that change nothing but your appearance, although your sword does affect the pattern of blocks you send to your opponent when sword fighting. You can form groups (called crews) and take them out to sea on a boat for some good old fashioned pillaging. Just as with a real boat, there are any number of jobs that need doing such as sailing, carpentry, and bilging (bilging is getting excess water out of a boat).

Each boat has several ďpuzzle stations,Ē the exact number of which depends on the size of the ship. Each station corresponds to a specific job. Each crewmember picks a station and begins a puzzle. The faster/better you accomplish the puzzles, the more work youíre getting done. So, for example, if the people at sailing stations are doing well, the ship goes faster. If the carpenter begins botching his puzzles, the ship begins to take on more water, and the players at bilge stations will soon find themselves overrun with extremely difficult puzzles. Advanced pirates can engage in navigation and gunnery puzzles.

There are other types of puzzle activities you can engage in that arenít directly related to ship tasks such as sword fighting, drinking, alchemy, shipbuilding, and card games. After you succeed at a puzzle enough times your experience in that task goes up and you get a new title such as novice, solid, or legendary. For each job, you also have a title that signifies how you compare to the other players in your skill at the puzzle.


Difficulty:

Being a puzzle game, Puzzle Pirates tests your brain far more than your reflexes. You still need your reflexes though. While some puzzles allow you to sit back and think about your next move, many of them require some pretty fast-paced thinking on your part, especially the more competitive puzzles like sword fighting. Everyone is sure to find a puzzle they like and are good at though. Of course, as with anything, even with a wide variety of puzzles, youíre going to get bored of them eventually.

Game Mechanics:

The diversity of puzzles is fairly impressive. Let me give you some examples. If youíve ever played Puzzle Fighter, youíre already pretty familiar with the sword fighting puzzle. Itís basically another variation of Tetris- and Columns-type games. You match the colors into huge blocks and then break them to send swords at your opponent that fill up his screen. Carpentry is about taking oddly shaped pieces and filling in complicated holes, ideally never overlapping pieces. Ship building has you taking a grid of different types of squares and moving them around to form specific patterns.

If you want to just try the game out, itís easy. Puzzle Pirates is a free download and requires no subscription to get started. If you want to wear the fancier cloths or engage in some of the more advanced puzzles, youíll have to become a subscribing customer. You can also buy the game from a local retailer and get a free month.

You have puzzles and you have people. Puzzle Pirates puts them together in a friendly, competitive atmosphere. If you enjoy puzzles and some mild socializing, youíll probably find you can lose quite a few hours playing in the world of Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates.


-Alucard, GameVortex Communications
AKA Stephen Triche

Minimum System Requirements:



Windows
Windows 98SE/2000/ME/XP, 300 MHz Pentium III, 256 MB RAM, 4 MB SVGA graphics adapter

Mac
Mac OS X 10.3, 500 MHz G3, 512 MB RAM, 4 MB SVGA Graphics Adaptor

Linux
Redhat/Fedora, Debian, SuSE, Mandrake, Knoppix, Linspire, Lycoris, 300 MHz Pentium III, 256 MB RAM, 4 MB SVGA graphics adaptor

 

Test System:



Windows XP, 2.8 GHz Pentium 4, 1024 MB RAM, Radeon 9800 with 256 MB of memory, Sound Blaster Audigy 2

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