|System: Wii (WiiWare)||Review Rating Legend|
|Dev: Oxygen||1.0 - 1.9 = Avoid||4.0 - 4.4 = Great|
|Pub: Oxygen Interactive||2.0 - 2.4 = Poor||4.5 - 4.9 = Must Buy|
|Release: July 21, 2008||2.5 - 2.9 = Average||5.0 = The Best|
|Players: 1-4||3.0 - 3.4 = Fair|
|ESRB Rating: Everyone||3.5 - 3.9 = Good|
Another issue I have with Pirates: The Key of Dreams is the monotony of levels. The various objectives do provide a bit of variety, but the levels are all structured essentially the same way. Each level involves a number of stages, where you'll have to beat some ships, get a few items, beat some more ships, and then beat some harder ships. The repetition can really get to you after awhile, and it makes this title pretty hard to pick up after an initial play through.
In addition to the repetitive nature of the various objectives, the level design adds to the monotony of this title. Each level looks almost exactly the same as the level prior, with the only real change being the color scheme. Trees, ships, and other landscape features don't change from level to level, and after a few rounds, it is very easy to get bored with the level design.
In addition to the main single-player mode, there is also a multiplayer mode that supports up to four players. This mode is basically a shooting free-for-all, and the object is to reach a set goal of pirate takedowns. You can choose from any of the 35 stages you have played through in the single-player mode, and even if you haven't played through it, all the stages are unlocked. So, if you're itching to jump right in and play with your friends, you won't be bogged down with having to complete the single-player mode. Although the multiplayer mode is fun for a little while, the maps are way too small, and the multiplayer mode just feels like it is tacked on.
Graphics are minimalist to say the least, and there is hardly any action on screen. As I said before, enemies are few and far between, and you end up staring at the blue void that represents the ocean for the majority of the game. The animations you do see are solid, and there are no framerate issues, but there just isn't enough here graphically to make this game look like a current-gen shooter.
One area that definitely shines in this title is the control. There are two options available, and you can use either the Wii-mote turned on its side or the classic controller. Either way, the control scheme uses one button for propulsion and either the control pad or thumbstick for steering. There will also be two buttons used, one for primary cannon fire and the other for special weaponry equipped on the map. The controls are tight, work well, and the option to use either controller gives you a lot of freedom.
Pirates: The Key of Dreams is a title that is definitely unlike its pirate video game predecessors because it takes a much different approach to the subject matter. Instead of having an adventure or strategy-type game, Pirates: The Key of Dreams goes for a strict arcade-style shooter approach. Unfortunately, though this approach makes for some fun at first, especially for casual gamers, the gameplay gets old rather quickly due to the repetitive nature of both the level design and lack of enemies. There just isn't enough to this title to make it worth 1000 points, and if you need a frenzied shooter fix, you could do a whole lot better than Pirates: The Key of Dreams.
Amanda L. Kondolojy
CCC Freelance Writer