Developer: DeNA
Price: FREE
Version Reviewed: 1.3
App Reviewed on: iPhone 5

Graphics / Sound Rating: ★★★★☆
Gameplay Rating: ★★★★☆
Playtime Rating: ★★★★☆
Replay Value Rating: ★★★★☆

Overall Rating: ★★★★☆

Yo-ho-ho and a bottle of explosives. Pirate Bash from DeNA is a physics game that initially comes across as Angry Birds with spears and ships. However, further play reveals there’s a big difference between birds and sea dogs.

Pirate Bash, for instance, features turn-based combat. Players take turns shooting cannon balls and pointy things at their rivals, and it’s a blast (so to speak). The combat also adds a layer of strategy that’s not present with Angry Birds or its straight-up clones. Simple destruction isn’t the player’s only goal: they also need to stay alive long enough to see their enemies fall.

piratebash_03Each character has a set number of hit points. Hit points deplete when characters are hit with opponents’ projectiles, or environmental hazards like falling debris from a collision or an explosion. When a character’s hit points reach zero, they poof out of existence. If all the players’ pirates are iced, the game is over. But if they manage to off the bad guys first (“bad guys” being a nebulous term when dealing with anything pirate-themed), they’re allowed to move on to the next level. There are also stars (rather, skulls) to aim for. Completing a level within a certain amount of time rewards the player with either a bronze, silver, or gold skull.

There are lots of pirates to recruit, each of which comes with their own unique weapon. Three pirates can be on the battlefield at one time, and much of the challenge in Pirate Bash comes from successfully matching up the stage type with the right pirate.

piratebash_05The game offers suggestions, but it’s really up to the player to make everything work. For instance, a harpoon-wielding pirate isn’t going to be much good in a level that puts enemy pirates behind thick barricades of concrete and wood, but they’ll prove invaluable in a level where enemies hide behind rock walls slit with narrow cracks.

It’s worth noting Pirate Bash is a free-to-play game, so there are offers for special weapons and armor (which, naturally, give players stronger attacks, special moves, and more hit points). Thankfully, it’s not necessary to buy anything. Pirate Bash rewards players with keys, which can be used to open chests that occasionally contain very decent armor and weapons. These prizes can be upgraded further using silver, which is earned easily enough in-game. Be warned, though: Pirate Bash offers one-on-one battles with other players, some of whom might have beefed themselves up with rare equipment that can be fished out of expensive gold chests.

It’s a small concern really, since Pirate Bash is fun enough as a single-player game. It successfully combines physics, strategy, and the fun of mass destruction. That’s enough to convince anyone to live a pirate’s life.

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