NINTENDO DS REVIEW: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: DEAD MAN'S CHEST

A pirate's treasure? Not quite, but kids might find playing as the three heroes from the movie series entertaining, albeit repetitive. by Vaughn Smith

July 6, 2006 - Ragging on games based on movies is a lot like making fun of the kid who constantly pees his pants in class; eventually you realize it's just mean-spirited behavior, you do some growing up and you allow that kid to resume his life without torturing him daily. It's not his fault and you know something? Aside from the unmistakable smell of urine, he's not a bad dude. Dead Man's Chest isn't great and it's not terrible; it's just okay. I've been around long enough to realize that A) some kids will enjoy this game simply because they get to "play the movie", B) this ain't Halo 3 and C) it's not aimed at 40-year-old game reviewers. Actually, I haven't found a game yet specifically targetted at that sad, pathetic demographic. Perhaps that's a good thing.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest screenshotPirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest screenshot

Dead Man's Chest for the DS, GBA and PSP is based upon the upcoming summer movie while the console Pirates games are more of a retrospective, shining some history upon the mysterious Jack Sparrow and some of his earlier adventures. In regards to the DS version, Amaze delivered a perfunctory beat-em-up, starring the three most popular characters from the movie Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp), Will Turner (Orlando Bloom) and Elizabeth Swann (Kiera Knightley). Since I haven't seen the movie, I can only speculate that the plot of the game follows it to some degree - although I'd expect the movie (hopefully) features far more than repetitive button mashing for 2 hours.

Played from a third person perspective, this 3D brawler doesn't look half bad at first glance on the DS. Once you delve further into the game you begin to notice the awkward animation, camera problems and other telltale signs that this game might have been a little rushed to meet its movie release deadline. The repetitive fighting won't keep anyone but the youngest of gamers attention, which isn't a bad thing since that's the intended audience. The rest of the gaming world will find it particularly dull even when playing co-op with a friend, which is a nice touch and definitely echoes the comradarie of the characters in the movie. The touch screen displays your inventory screen and I found it far too large and distracting. Nobody needs a screen that big for that stuff.

To keep gamers interests up, Amaze tossed in a plethora of moves (combos and specials) and other goodies. Ultimately the special moves are an empty gesture as you won't really need them. You'll encounter numerous cookie cutter enemies throughout the game and you'll find defeating with the same moveset you were given at the outset works just fine. Fanatic gamers will love to invest in new moves just to see what they do, while others will shrug their shoulders and continue pressing the punch button until the game ends.

Borrowing from beat-em-ups from days gone by, DMC allows players to pick up weapons lying around which might alleviate some of the boredom as you kick, punch and swordfight from checkpoint to checkpoint. A "on the go" save feature has been mercifully implemented so you can log your progress at every available new area. Considering the game is on the lengthy side, you'll find the save feature a handy addition.

Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest screenshotPirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest screenshot

Amaze tacked on a few mini-games to help elongate the play value and while they aren't anything special, they definitely work as intended. The downer is that DMC doesn't support one cart play, so each player will have to own their own copy of the game. Needless to say you may not find that any of your friends have a copy. There is a cannon game, a memory game and a monkey shooting game - not exactly the pinaccle of multiplayer gaming.

If you're dying to see Dead Man's Chest and you're heading off for a long summer vacation in the family vehicle, perhaps this game would be worth a closer look as it would certainly keep you occupied for a respectable amount of time. All others should approach this like you would a pirate ship: with a little bit of excitement and a little bit of caution.

Features:

  • Players take on the role of one of three characters (Jack Sparrow, Will Turner or Elizabeth Swann) to fight their way through 19 levels
  • Utilize 17 different weapons including swords, pistols, hatchet, throwing knives and grenades to defeat 29 different enemies
  • Fight with jump attacks combo moves and each of the three characters’ signature fight moves’
  • Two players can join in any level to experience the adventure in cooperative wireless mode
  • Single- or two-player mini games add variety to the game for more challenges

By Vaughn Smith
CCC Site Director

Rating out of 5
Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (DS)
3.0
Graphics
Initially impressive, but the longer you play the more you realize it doesn't look as good as you originally thought.
3.5
Control
There are a lot of moves and the control is good, it's just that you really don't need all of those fancy combos to beat most enemies.
3.0

Music / Sound FX / Voice Acting
Pretty decent for a DS title.

4.0
Play Value
It's a long game, 19 levels to be exact, but the repetition might get you long before the game ends. Co-op adds value too. Multiplayer actually detracts from it.
3.5
Overall Rating - Good
Not an average. See Rating legend above for a final score breakdown.
Pirates Of The Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest Box Art
System: DS
Dev:Griptonite Games
Pub: BVG
Released: June 2006
Players: 1 - 2
Review by Vaughn

Review Rating Legend
1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid
2.0 - 2.4 = Poor
2.5 - 2.9 = Average
3.0 - 3.4 = Fair
3.5 - 3.9 = Good
4.0 - 4.4 = Great
4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy
5.0 = The Best