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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.
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.