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If there is any man who can make a unique and memorable game out of an overdone genre like the match-three, it's legendary game designer Ron Gilbert. Having worked on the creative and zany adventure games of Lucas Arts' golden years, like Secret of Monkey Island, you can expect anything this guy touches to at least be original in some aspect, and definitely well written and funny, and that is exactly true here with Scurvy Scallywags, a theatrical pirate adventure about a legendary Shanty!
Yes, you are technically playing as people acting like pirates in a stage production. Many of the quests and other story bits are about things occurring backstage. The main quest of your pirate, as it is in the actual show, is to collect every verse of a legendary pirate Shanty. Along the way, you'll find missing props, build new ships, unlock new costumes, and do battle with all sorts of enemies.
The way the gameplay mixes things up is by adding some RPG elements, not unlike Puzzle Quest, but with a twist. Your pirate is actually one of the pieces on the board, as are the various zombie pirates and other enemies. You actually have to avoid them as you build up enough attack power to take them down, all indicated by simple face numbers. This is possible by the unique row destruction mechanics. New pieces will come into the board from the same direction that you swiped to swap pieces, giving you more options per turn, and really adding an elegant layer of strategy.
Items that you collect on board can be used to complete quests, build new ships and gain new passive powers, and more. Any gold you collect all goes to use in buying new skills and upgrading them, such as a pistol shot that takes an enemies power level down, letting you attack it sooner, or a leapfrog ability good for getting away from or inducing a fight. Interestingly enough, these abilities cooldown timers are based on how many matches you make, rather than a time limit.
The visuals are colorful and charming, and the unique style helps support this wacky premise, along with the music and great writing. If nothing else, this game is strange, but strange in a good way. It's remarkable and memorable, yet still simple enough for anyone to pick up and play. There is IAP, but none of it is pushed on you, and it's easy as pie to play normally. Definitely support this fascinatingly fun title. It's available for two dollars at the time of this review.