Review by Cardinal

"Just not enough..."

This review assumes you've played the game quite a fair bit.

Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates is an interesting diversion but only that. I have a feeling it was released too soon. It's understandable that a small development team such as Three Rings cannot go far without some capital, but after months of thorough playing time, I have found that little has been added besides tournaments, war, empty islands and other miscellaneous features that should have been included in the first place. Even what they add has yet to be completed or implemented well. It took a couple weeks before tournaments were done correctly. Don't even mention war, which is absolutely useless if you're in any respectable flag as no one really bothers with it.

Basically, you can only pillage and own shops and none of those activities are very grandiose in scale. In pillaging, expect to spend 90% of your time beating up on bots as PvP battles are terribly pointless for money. How 'bout fame, you ask? Or the thrill of cutting down your opponent? Many players call foul when they think they've been attacked too many times. And while in other multiplayer games, players say tough and move on when they're victim to an attack, in Y!PP, prepare for an extensive debate on a message board which is tiring if you participate, or a misrepresentation of your side if you don't.

As for the shoppe owning and trading aspect of the game, I'm sorry, but it's simply not fun AT ALL. To even get any valuable resources, prepare to camp for weeks. There are no new puzzles associated with trading either. You just take the pillaging aspect out of sailing and that's what it is: an exercise in tedium. And while it's good money, you wonder if it's really worth all the effort for a shoppe in a video game.

What it comes down to are the puzzles. If you enjoy puzzle games, this game will keep its hold on you for a while longer than it should. Unfortunately, the puzzles suffer from developers catering to a lesser skilled denominator. Sailing is basically Dr. Mario but nowhere as complex or difficult. Carpentry doesn't variate much besides giving you bigger holes to patch. Bilging throws no new obstacles to bypass as you improve. Only navigation and gunnery actually has significant differences in difficulty to keep a player interested, yet these puzzles are not common puzzles everyone could attend to. All in all, you have only the swordfighting puzzle as the one with any semblance of depth at all.

''Oh well,'' you say. ''At least I can try and be the best puzzler for bragging rights!'' Good luck 'cause you'll be in the dark half the time trying to find out how or why you're doing well. While other games allow you to have in-depth stats so that you can be more competitive, this game seems to disdainful of competition, preferring to blur out individuality and making everyone indistinguishable. Two friends can't really strive to be better sailors than the other just because a couple people think it's bad to be conscious of your own stats. Two people can be Legendary Sailors but there are absolutely no way in telling if one is better.

Sorry, but it's my personal opinion that competitive boasting is good for the game. Also, I get this feeling that those who are against in-depth stats just can't handle the fact that they're not that good. While I personally think that you can always ignore a game feature you don't like (for instance, I don't whine and moan that I have no clue how to play the Drinking game so I just ignore it), I guess it's just MUCH BETTER if a couple people could decide how I play the game...which is sapping away all my motivation to be the best by leaving me in the dark.

Do I REALLY play better with a scimitar than a poniard? ''Sorry, no way to say.'' Am I more effecting at building combos strikes or combos of sprinkles? ''Sorry, we'd prefer it if you kinda...guessed at it.'' I'm not sure if it's lazy programming to not include the stats or just egos unable to accept that other people may have better stats than them. I just know I dislike not knowing anything about myself besides the fact that I'm an Ultimate swordfighter, a rather generic title. It also helps very little that there are like a hundred people who are Ultimate as well, defeating the rewards of being very skilled.

In the end, all you have is the community to fall back on and while I did find myself a very respectable crew, I cannot even get myself to associate with the rest of the ocean. The elitism is quite apparent. While they may help you a lot as far as getting your feet wet about the basic gameplay of the game, do not expect to argue or debate very far about anything, from possible new ideas to in-game politics, without getting some degree slapped in your face or some personal history about how so and so majored in English. I guess that's the drawback of an older community. For all the ''l337'' people that I don't find, I get the haughty jerk who thinks his opinions final. And sadly, a lot of the monarchs and leaders in the game are this way. People in FFXI may be stupider and younger, but they're not looking down on you all the time when you're trying to suggest an idea or run your own crew.

The game is simply not worth it. It IS ten dollars a month because I'm not gonna commit myself to months and months that I possibly may not play. They like to say it's cheaper than going to a movie, but sorry...the amazing experience of a great movie, say Pirates of the Caribbean, beats out the diminishing returns of this very light game. There are too many negative drawbacks. Too many promises of the better future, too little things to do for a true game, and just too dull.

And I haven't even gotten the audio/visual departmet yet. But what's there to say besides reiterating the same thing and over: Too many promises of the better future, too little things to do for a true game, and just too dull. What are you expecting? Great graphics? Not on java, my friend. Good artwork? Well, that's purely subjective....buuuut...even here, there are so many restrictions. You can't be fat. You can't be thin. You can't be tall. You can't be short. You can't be shirtless. You can't be anything but vanilla, vanilla, vanilla. Why? Because ''too much artwork means too much download/strain for people with inferior computers.'' Before I even mention my disgust with that statement, allow me to go on. It can't rain. It can't be nighttime. It can't have moving waves. It can't have free scrolling of characters. Why? Because ''too much artwork means too much download/strain for people with inferior computers.''

Sorry, but in reality, TOUGH LUCK. People are supposed to move on, update their systems, etc. That's how it is with practically every other PC games. It's not shallow to want better graphical features. It makes the game more fun. But unfortunately, instead of giving the player options to turn off certain graphical features, the developers opt to cripple the people with better computers for those who can't afford to keep up...this is strangely similar to how the difficulty of the puzzles are determined.

But I've digressed...and I'll move on to sound. And then I'm done. Because...well, there are none. Yeah, a couple sound effects like cannons shooting or water burbling in bilging but otherwise, you play Y!PP in a vacuum. Sorry!

Is it worth ten bucks a month? No. Is it worth $8.32 a month for three months? Maybe...but will you really play for three whole months? Is it worth $6.25 a month for twelve months? I can't envision myself playing something this limited for more than three months, much less an entire year. Here's my final verdict: thumbs down.

Reviewer's Rating:   2.0 - Poor

Originally Posted: 03/07/04

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