Review: Pirate Pop Plus


Pang in my side

[Update: Added the release date for the Wii U version of the game as well as notated that the game is cross-buy across Nintendo consoles.]

Remember Buster Bros. (aka Pang outside of America)? It's that game where you walk back and forth shooting bubbles that bounce around the screen with various guns. When shot, the bubbles pop and split into two smaller bubbles multiple times till you've destroyed them all. Certain iterations of the game had multiplayer and various other additions.

Pirate Pop Plus feels like a cheap Game Boy knockoff of that series only not an adventure game, instead opting to go for a score-based arcade sensibility. It also costs a dollar more than Virtual Console ports of Game Boy titles such as Kirby's Dreamland 2, which makes it look like a tech demo. However, it is at least cross-buy with the Wii U version of the game, which is a feature I wish more games would take advantage of.

Also, for some reason, it's only available on 3DS if you've got the more powerful New variety.

Pirate Pop Plus (New 3DS [reviewed], PC, Wii U)
Developer: dadako
Publisher: 13AM Games
MSRP: $4.99
Released: October 20, 2016 (New 3DS, Wii U) November 4, 2016 (PC)

When I say Pirate Pop Plus is a knockoff of Buster Bros., I mean it, down to the same exact mechanics for the few weapons available. The formula is mixed up a bit, as instead of just popping bubbles while standing on the ground, you and the bubbles will be pulled onto the walls or ceiling when magnets are activated (game logic). Additionally, you can bounce your character off bubbles if you manage to fall on them. But a few small tweaks aren't enough to make me want to choose this over one of the games it imitates.

As this is an arcade-like affair, you'll be popping bubbles for as long as you can to get high scores as well as coins. Coins can be used to unlock characters and customize the Game Boy-like border on the top screen. The game screen is in a small box surrounded by a d-pad and a single button that reacts in real time to your actions, which is probably the most interesting part about Pirate Pop. Unfortunately, the default screen size is too small and the only other option makes it bigger while forcing off the cool handheld border, defeating the purpose of playing to earn more coins.

If I had to say anything nice about Pirate Pop, it's that the pixel art isn't bad, and the music is especially decent chiptunes, though neither can save the game from becoming dull quickly.

Pirate Pop Plus feels more like something you'd have found near the release of the Game Boy than something that should be asking for money in 2016 considering there are full-length Game Boy games with a plethora of content available on the eShop for less money, and tons of even cheaper mobile games that put this to shame. If you don't care about unlocking all the customizations, achievements, high scores, or the few characters that hardly change the gameplay, then you'll probably get bored of this within 20 minutes. Even at a lower price, I wouldn't recommend it. Pop your money elsewhere.

[This review is based on a retail build of the game provided by the publisher.]

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Pirate Pop Plus reviewed by Jed Whitaker



Went wrong somewhere along the line. The original idea might have promise, but in practice it has failed. Threatens to be interesting sometimes, but rarely.
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Jed Whitaker
Jed Whitaker   gamer profile



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