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Developer: Thumbstar
Price: $1.99
Version Reviewed: 1.0
Device Reviewed On: iPhone 4

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Game Controls Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★½☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★½☆

Overall Rating: ★★★½☆

Clumsy Pirates treads a familiar path. It’s a puzzle game that gradually increases in difficulty, while offering players the choice of blitzing through levels or collecting up the all important three coins around each stage. It’s simple yet fun stuff, although a little on the expensive side.

Players control Billy the Mop, a young pirate who’s been tasked with the job of rectifying a major mistake on a pirate ship. The other pirates have inadvertently set light to a cannon bomb and left it to Billy to throw it to sea. This story leads to a single screen puzzle game where players must lead Billy to the top of the ship in order to fling the bomb overboard.

Gameplay is pretty simple. The player can’t directly steer Billy, instead relying upon ladders, bubbles and obstacles to direct him the right way. Along the way, it’d be useful for Billy to pick up the gold coins scattered around each stage, adding another objective. The level of difficulty builds up gradually, meaning players have plenty of time to get to grips with things.

Bubbles transport Billy upwards, either one or two levels, and help at times when there aren’t any ladders to use. They also affect the direction that Billy takes, which comes in handy when trying to dodge obstacles such as holes in the deck floor. Later stages include more fearsome obstacles such as large fires.

It’s all quite simple to figure out but things can get quite frantic after a time. While there’s the suggestion that Clumsy Pirates is the kind of puzzle game that should be planned out carefully, action is actually pretty frantic. Placing bubbles at just the right moment is a sometimes frustrating experience, requiring pinpoint accuracy. With a tight time limit at all times, things can turn infuriating.

The challenge is fine though. It’s more the high price that will put some players off Clumsy Pirates. It’s not the most revolutionary of games, although it is charming to look at. At $1.99 though, it feels expensive compared to others within the genre. It’s interested me to see what Thumbstar will produce next, but a keener price would tempt more puzzle fans.

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