Ron Gilbert’s latest is a match-three puzzler with so many ideas crammed into its hold it’s constantly in danger of sinking itself. Happily, its systems are sturdy enough to keep it afloat, while its breezy piratical humour keeps the wind in its sails.
As ever you swipe to swap, lining up three or more matching icons, with fresh ones cascading into the gaps. The direction of the swipe, however, determines which side the newcomers arrive from, giving you a greater degree of control over the grid, and thus allowing you to avoid conflict with encroaching enemies – at least until you’ve swapped enough swords to increase your pirate’s power rating above theirs.
Light RPG elements add further hooks: matching up coins gives you extra loot towards active and passive power-ups, while the rest of the items you gather can also be sold. Pick up a treasure chest from a defeated foe or a present box and you’ll get to spin a roulette wheel which holds items that can be used to construct a new ship. This offers additional permanent buffs, as does a range of pirate garb.
Indeed, while a cooldown period prevents any individual ability from becoming overpowered, Beep Games has been a little too generous with the assists: even taking accidental matches into consideration, the difficulty curve is shallow. Fortunately, it has a reliable stream of Gilbert gags, puns, and musical numbers to fall back on, ensuring that just as the challenge eases off, the charm comfortably picks up the slack.
Scurvy Scallywags is out now on the App Store for 69p / 99¢.