Mobile games found on smart phones are made to be short, addictive experiences. The marketplace is perfect for these games as well, since most titles cost nothing more than a dollar. Pirate Pop Plus would have fit perfectly on the mobile market, as it’s a textbook example of a pick-up-and-play experience. However, its release on Steam and the Nintendo eshop seems misplaced, especially considering its $5 asking price.
Pirate Pop Plus tasks the player with popping a series of bubbles using a harpoon that shoots straight up into the air. Accuracy is encouraged through a score multiplier that builds up through hitting bubbles without missing. Power-ups can be collected during play, ranging from harpoons that stay in place to a laser gun that blows through bubbles. As time passes, more and more bubbles will spawn, requiring quick reaction times and micro-management. It really is an addicting experience, especially for those that enjoy chasing higher scores. The better the player becomes, the more engaging the experience is, as the game does a great job at making the player feel like they’re highly-skilled.
While the gameplay itself is engaging, Pirate Pop Plus offers practically no other gameplay options outside of the standard endless mode in which the player tries to get the highest score possible. There is a hyper mode, however it is essentially the same thing albeit with only one heart and bubbles that spawn more quickly. It’s a nice addition for highly skilled players, however it is not unique enough to add any sort of replay-ability. Those two modes are the only options in the game, which could get dull quickly for those that don’t find the gameplay to be spectacular.
One of the more interesting features of this title is the amount of extras that can be purchased with in-game coins. The game screen is surrounded by a GameBoy-like machine that can be aesthetically customized with new screen colors, face plates, and buttons. New characters and in-game music can also be purchased with coins as well. These items provide a reason to keep popping bubbles in the endless mode, however none of the items (outside of the characters) change the gameplay in any real way.
Even though the gameplay is addicting enough, Pirate Pop Plus simply does not offer enough content for a $5 release on the traditional console environment. In fact, the game really doesn’t make any sense on Wii U or Steam considering its portable friendly gameplay. While the experience certainly befits the 3DS, more single player content would have been nice to see. The stand-alone endless mode would have made more sense on a smart phone than a traditional games platform. That being said, gamers will still find Pirate Pop Plus to be a mostly-solid title with addictive gameplay.