Billed as a pirate-themed cross between Bejewelled, RPGs and Broadway musicals, Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover The Ultimate Sea Shanty not only boasts the longest name of any iOS game we’ve played, it’s also a bloody addictive puzzler that takes the well-worn ‘match three’ gameplay and freshens it up with some neat twists.
You play a cartoony scourge of the seven seas, whose mission is to plunder various islands in search of the titular shanty. Each island contains a number of match three puzzles, which deposit your character on a typical Bejewelled-style board and task you with swapping adjacent symbols to form rows of three or more. Matched symbols disappear, and remaining ones then move along to fill the space. In this way, you can move your pirate around the board and have him collect various quest items that appear.
To make things more perilous, some enemies will occasionally pop onto the grid. These malevolent marauders can move around the board independently, and if you end up side-by-side with one, get ready for a barney. The victor is decided by whoever has the higher power rating, a number which you can increase by matching together sword symbols. However, each battle takes a chunk out of your rating, so you’ll need to frantically match more swords if there are several baddies honing in on you.
Between battles you can upgrade your pirate’s outfit, ship and powers, using gold you pick up during missions (again by matching three or more gold symbols). It’s a great way to keep you hooked, as you strive to cobble together enough resources to buy that awesome frigate or game-changing power. These skills can really help you out of a bind – for instance, by filling the board with power swords or unleashing a whirlwing attack on surrounding foes – and also help you to develop deeper tactics, as you can only use each power sparingly.
Scallywags’ presentation is also superb, from the bright, colourful graphics to the occasional musical interlude, each time you find a piece of the shanty. Of course, co-producer Ron Gilbert has had a fair bit of practice when it comes to piratey adventures, and Scallywags contains the same level of silly humour as the Monkey Island games. The story might be a tad surreal, but it should also tickle a smile out of all but the grumpiest gamer.