Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty is a match three puzzle game with an RPG element. Made by Ron Gilbert, well-known for creator classics like Monkey Island and Clayton Kauzlaric, the team who brought us DeathSpank, Scallywags starts on a character customization screen. I receive a customizable pirate who will travel the seas to gather gold, ship-building materials, experience points (XP), additional skills and wardrobe upgrades. It’s a suave puzzle game with just the right amount of humour, plot and puzzling mixed together.
It is a game that is easy to play. Most of the game is played in a grid. The grid contains items to match in groups of three upwards and matching items moves the pirate, also on the board, either up, down ,left or right.
Quest items and enemies also appear on the grid and aim of the game is to collect the quest items, avoid enemies until you have matched enough sword icons to exceed their strength and then to battle them for pirate treasure. The treasure chest when opened is a roulette wheel that spits out gold, ship building components or nothing.
The second part of the game is played in the menu screen. There is a list of icons to navigate. Here, skills can be bought and upgraded, the shop can be accesses, ships that give special bonuses can be built and the pirate collection can be viewed.
My pirate had 3 hearts at the outset, which can be upgraded to 4 in the skills section later on and when battling stronger enemies, hearts are lost until none remain and the pirate dies.
The pirate can be resurrected with gold, a currency collected or bought with real money or, if you sacrifice them, your new pirate starts at level one, but the player retains all bought skills as well as items and gold. It’s a good deal that plays very well.
Scurvy Scallywags is very accessible if you have photophobia, motion sickness, blurred vision or colour vision deficiency. It has almost no flicker, flash or other bright visual effects, no motion sickness triggers and no reliance on colour alone.
It is moderately accessible for those with some visual loss or blurred vision. Icons and text is quite small on the iPhone and there is no zoom option integrated in the game. Most icons are quite distinctive which certainly helps and icons on the maps do flash, which again, is a great help.
All dialogue takes place in text boxes and I played the bulk of the game without any sound and had no difficulty doing so. Very accessible for anyone with a hearing impairment.
It is a touch screen based game, but tapping is the only control mechanism needed. The hit boxes is quite small on the iPhone making precision a definite requirement, but there is no time limit or compulsory complex manoeuvres. There are a handful of timed maps, but these are an optional extra to earn quick gold and there are viable alternatives. It can easily be played with one hand, even when holding the phone with the same hand and just using a thumb to tap.
Scurby Scallywags is a puzzle game that does require some cognitive skills. Some numeracy is important to match three or more items and manage a budget. It is not a memory based game and all relevant information is displayed and easy to access. The most difficult memory based task is probably remembering the four icons for the specials skills that is chosen from a large list by the player. It is not possible to check the list whilst the grid is active, so players have to remember which icon is which skill.
The language used is primary to secondary school level and provided as text boxes. Most of the language is optional, it simply creates a backdrop for the puzzle part and adds character and humour to the game, but players who are keen match 3 puzzlers can skips through this with a few taps and be on their way to the grid in seconds. Some spacial orientation is very useful as moving around the grid requires players to anticipate which direction items, including their pirate, will move when they move a specific block. This makes it moderately accessible to those with dyslexia, dyscalculia or significant cognitive impairment.
- Sound – check box to turn on/off
- Music – check box to turn on/off
- iCloud – check box to turn on/off
- Swap Hints – check box to turn on/off
I have played quite a few match 3 puzzles and Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty is definitely one of the best. It is easy to pick and to put down and obviously well-designed with a little plot and a lot of humour that most match 3’s don’t even attempt to add. My only persistent annoyance has been that it grabs the sound on my phone even when playing without sound, making it impossible to listen to an audio book whilst playing – it automatically pauses iTunes at start-up.
It is a generally accessible game with the main obstacles put in place by the genre and not the developers and I would highly recommend it to fans as well as newcomers of both the genre and Ron Gilbert’s work.
[stars rating=”4″ type=”Game”]