Plunderland hard to control, too short for cost

Aug 4, 2010
Games

Helping cartoon pirates sail the seas and kill members of the British Royal Navy ought to be super-fun — but the iPhone’s Plunderland ($2.99) is short, hard to control and lacking in variety. The game isn’t necessarily bad, just thin and clunky. As a ghost pirate, you help your crew by picking up and throwing […]

Helping cartoon pirates sail the seas and kill members of the British Royal Navy ought to be super-fun — but the iPhone’s Plunderland ($2.99) is short, hard to control and lacking in variety.

The game isn’t necessarily bad, just thin and clunky. As a ghost pirate, you help your crew by picking up and throwing overboard enemy sailors, gathering treasure, and firing away with the ship’s cannon. Tilting your iPhone sails your side-scrolling ship forward or back, while touching the phone screen allows you to rotate the cannon and fire arcing steel death balls at enemy ships.

These two somewhat intuitive control schemes don’t work together well. Plotting a cannon ball arc is really difficult to do while tilting the iPhone and can send your cannon shot just about any place — which isn’t a problem, except when you’re both under fire and waiting for your cannon to be ready to fire again. You also need to tilt to move and dodge enemy cannon fire, which can throw off your return shots. It gives the whole experience an air of randomness rather than skill.

Manipulating anything on the screen requires touching it, which means if you feel the need to pick up and bodily throw a Redcoat (undoubtedly the game’s most hilarious aspect), you have to stop tilting and sacrifice the attack.

While Plunderland does include a goofy, colorful pop-up book style, it’s impossible to justify $2.99 for a game that amounts to shooting and sinking British ships and murdering island villagers – repeatedly. The repetition is excessive, but even then, the game is easily finished inside an hour or two. It’s much too expensive for such a short, somewhat boring experience.

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Phil Hornshaw

Phil Hornshaw is a freelance writer, editor and author living in Los Angeles, dividing his time between playing video games, playing video games on his cell phone, and writing about playing video games. He’s also the co-author of So You Created a Wormhole: The Time Traveler’s Guide to Time Travel, which attempts to mix time travel pop culture with some semblance of science, as well as tips on the appropriate means of riding dinosaurs. Check out his profile.

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