I was a big fan of Runbow on the Wii U. It was an interesting game with a really fun gameplay hook that kept me coming back for more. 13AM Games are back with a new game this time, with a different feel but with the same kind of style I enjoyed in Runbow. While there are some interesting concepts, I feel that Pirate Pop Plus falls a bit short in the gameplay category.
Pirate Pop Plus features Pete Jr., who must rescue the townspeople who have been trapped in bubbles by the evil Bubble Pirate. Using his trusty anchor, Pete Jr. takes off to pop every bubble around.
Platforms: 3DS, Wii U, PC
Price I’d pay: $4
The gameplay itself takes place in an arena. In this arena, players must maneuver their character from left to right, popping bouncing bubbles with an upward attack with an anchor. Hitting a bubble will make it break into multiple smaller bubbles, that are obviously faster and more difficult to hit. Getting hit will take away life from the player’s life meter. Along with point bonuses, some popped bubbles will drop power-ups that can do a number of things like stop time, activate chains that can trap and pop bubbles, and other helpful things.
The big trick here is that the Bubble Pirate is not only constantly throwing bubbles the player’s way, but also changing the gravity. So players will find themselves walking left to right on each wall, and walking completely upside down on the ceiling. This change of perspective can be a bit of a difficult one to get used to, but that is what mixes it up. More advanced strategy players can utilize – when the gravity changes, attempt to jump on the bubbles for a better chain combo.
Players earn coins throughout their play that can be used to purchase new characters to play as well as change the outline of the game itself. Looking at screen shots, players will notice the game’s border looks like a GameBoy or an early 3DS, complete with special color schemes and even stickers slapped on the system. This is all aesthetic changes that don’t affect the way the game plays, although there were some color schemes (including the starting one) where I seemed to lose sight of my character in some hectic situations which, in turn, would end up getting me damaged or killed.
Along with that, there is also a Hyper mode that requires players to spend some of their coins to play, but in this mode, everything is doubled – score, coins, difficulty, speed, etc. It can get hectic, but after a while it seemed like this was the only mode I actually wanted to play. The Normal mode started to feel too slow, and the score building was much slower here.
That’s about it to be honest. Within about 20 minutes, I had seen everything the game had to offer. The only thing left was to keep playing to unlock everything with enough coins, which is a totally doable thing. The gameplay hook works, but will eventually get old after a while. I could see myself playing this every once in a while when I wanted to game for about ten or fifteen minutes, but for a longer game session, this really gets a bit too monotonous too fast.
Pirate Pop Plus is a neat little game. There’s no going around that. The gameplay is simple but still tight and fun, the progression is there, but runs out of steam within five longer sessions. This is the kind of game that would be a nice time waster every once in a while, but most certainly not for longer sessions. Even then, with the gameplay being so simplistic, players may find themselves bored after two or three sessions. But there are some decently fun times to be had.
Review copy of game provided by publisher.