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Buena Vista Games






T (Teen)



June 27, 2006



- Decent enough swordplay in the spirit of 2D beat 'em ups from the 16-bit era

- Has quite a number of levels

- Fun in short bursts



- Fun in short bursts

- Quite a bit of back-tracking

- Tacked-on touchscreen mini-games just aren't up to snuff



Review: Pirates of the Caribbean (PC)

Review: New Super Mario Bros. (DS)

Review: Metroid Prime: Hunters (DS)



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Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest

Score: 7.0 / 10


After playing Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest I got all warm and fuzzy about the 2D sidescrolling beat 'em ups of the 16-bit era, like Streets of Rage and Captain Commando.  Wave after wave of increasingly tough crazies ran toward you in a cascade as you pummeled them into blinking oblivion.  The 3D beat 'em up Dead Man's Chest is no match for the likes of Streets of Rage, but it does offer a straightforward enough action experience to provide a welcome distraction during your daily commute.


pirates of the caribbean dead man's chest          pirates of the caribbean dad man's chest


Presumably following the events of the film (I have yet to actually haul myself to the movie theater), swaggering Captain Jack Sparrow finds himself in a bit of pickle: pay a debt to the squid-faced Davey Jones or there will trouble.  Will Turner and the bride-to-be Elizabeth Swann get involved and we have a rollicking action game that switches between all three characters.


In keeping with the film, Will, Captain Jack, and Elizabeth fight with swords, among other weapons, like clubs, crates, barrels, bombs, and pistols.  To keep the action from getting too stale, the developers included a moderate number of unlockable new moves.  It's still a lot of button mashing, but getting the rhythm right to execute effective combos takes some practice, particularly as the enemies get tougher and act less predictably, even if their modus operandi is usually the same: run forward with swords drawn.


Though the DS doesn't have the same kind of graphical splendor as the other versions of Dead Man's Chest, the presentation is competent enough that the characters are easily recognizable, even Captain Jack's drunken stagger has been replicated.   But all is not well.  Things get a bit smudgy and it can be difficult to




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see things properly, especially when the foreground, like palm trees, gets in the way.  Getting momentarily caught on objects in the environment and not being able to tell which way you're supposed to be going, are two other problems you'll face on an on-going basis.  I spent almost five minutes trying to figure out where to go next and found that I had to cross the water, which didn't occur to me because I couldn't see it!  The camera angle shifts on  


its scripted path and there's no way to move it around for a better view.  It's definitely reminiscent of those 2D beat 'em ups I keep bringing up.


The touchscreen is used to limited effect in the occasional mini-game.  It's really too bad because pirates know how to have fun!  "Shoot the Monkey" although the name could be construed to rude effect, just doesn't satisfy, and neither does the Simon-esque memory game.  It's rudimentary at best and makes one wonder why they even bothered.


pirates of the caribbean dead man's chest          pirates of the caribbean dead man's chest


A real gem is the sound effects and music.  Maybe it's because I don't spend much time playing my DS with the sound on, but the music is easy listening (not in the bad sense) and the sounds of swords clanging and slicing the air are great, which is what you should expect from a game that equips you with a sword.  The quips that Elizabeth, Will and Captain Jack spout can get repetitive in long sittings, but since I recommend playing in short, controlled bursts it's not that much of a detriment to the gameplay.


As far as movie tie-ins go, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest could have been a lot worse.  The single-mindedness of the gameplay makes it easy to get into, but in the long term, the game has less to offer.


- Omni

(July 17, 2006)



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