GAME NAME: Scurvy Scallywags
DEVELOPER(S): Beep Games, Ron Gilbert, Clayton Kauzlaric
PUBLISHER(S): Beep Games
GENRE(S): puzzle, RPG
RELEASE DATE(S): June 6th 2013
Ron Gilbert had once made a dream team with Double Fine Productions and SEGA, into creating a downloadable classic ‘The Cave’. But then he left the company to re-unite with Clayton Kauzlaric and worked on a new mobile match-3 game, Scurvy Scallywags. However, after playing the game for hours and matching up the symbols countless times, it’s actually good!
‘Scurvy Scallywags in the Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG’ (or ‘SSITVTDTUSS:AMMTPRPG’ for short), is first announced on Gilbert’s Grumpy Gamer Blog. It’s an Adventure RPG, in which the player takes the lead role of a pirate captain, and sails around the world for treasure, battles, and retrieving verses from a rouge villain.
The puzzles serve as a main aspect of the game which follows the overused ‘match-3’ genre, popularised by ‘Candy Crush Saga’ and ‘Bejeweled’. It’s actually very close to ‘Puzzle Quest’, as it features upgrades, quests, and puzzle-based battles.
The overworld section of the game has various places to visit, where each contains a puzzle round, in which the player character aims to match pieces and eliminate all enemies. But you cannot simply swap tiles for the sake of points, as Strategy is often needed to avoid dangerous encounters and collect items.
When an enemy appears on the board, it will feature a number in which your character needs to match, or be higher than, in order to succeed in a fight. Otherwise the player needs to match up the purple sword symbols, in order to increase its level needed to defeat the enemy. There are also some coin symbols on the board, which they can be matched up to collect gold; they can be used to purchase items, unlockables, and skills.
There’s a mechanic where tiles fall in the direction of your swipes upon a match of over 3 tiles. That way, characters can be directed around the board, in order to prepare for battles, or collect items for quests. This is kinda hard to explain, not to mention confusing, as the player’s swipes may sometimes lure the character away from certain places, or end up dealing with an enemy. It may take some time to learn before the player finally learns to make the right swipes for the right directions.
The match-3 rounds basically takes up most of the game, as the player would just hop into nearby places, without having to face lots of dialogue and solving riddles. It’s got side quests in, but each one of them only requires the player to collect a certain amount of special items or symbols matched, in order to win a large gold reward. It also features a level-up system, which is used to enhance the player’s stats, as well as obtaining access to more unlockables. There are materials to collect in order to build better ships, and there are skills to mix with in order to take advantage of the game.
However, the game can get difficult really quickly. Once the player enters the desert-like areas, enemies appear with numbers of over 30 and make it harder for players to power up. If a player loses all the hearts and doesn’t have enough gold to resurrect itself, then it’s back to the beginning, losing everything apart from gold and skills. It’s good to see an aspect of failure in this game, but it’s not widely accepted as the player would have to level up again, in order to get stronger and grab back access to content. Even mistakes of losing hearts in a battle are not easily forgiven, as the player would have to collect bandages on the board in order to restore just one heart.
It may have a rough difficulty curve, but it is certainly flexible and tactical enough to become an addictive game. The player can mix and match skills, not to mention they are useful in gameplay. A gun skill can be used to cause damage to nearby enemies, and there’s even one that will turn the most popular kind of tiles on board into gold! Skills are way more effective than the bombs of shooter games, as they make fights, item collecting, and matching symbols much easier.
It is beautifully crafted, with nice art and catchy music, but what stands out in this game is its strong personality. It features good characters, funny dialogue, and the verses have some very good lyrics! There are costumes to unlock and some of them have stat bonuses, so there’s no doubt that your character may end up with a baggy jacket and a skirt! Given that it’s made by the developers of Monkey Island and Deathspank, the game feels very charming indeed.
Scurvy Scallywags may not suit those who want a forgiving gameplay experience, but it’s addictive, fun, and charismatic enough to play through. I had a few more sessions with the game, and it still hasn’t got me bored with it yet. For low price of 99 cents, it feels like a bargain as the game will get you hooked into grabbing more bonuses and trying out different skills. Now could we have that sort of game with Puyo Puyo or Tetris style puzzle matches, please?