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Publisher: PlayFirst    Genre: Puzzle & Trivia
Min OS X: 10.4    CPU: G4 @ 800 MHz    Hard Disk: 50 MB    Graphics: 800x600

Pirate Poppers
February 20, 2007 | Joshua Russell

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Pirate Poppers is addictive. So addictive, in fact, that you will probably have obscure dreams about it. You will see hallucinations of little balls and matching colors, and you will hum the theme song while you walk to the fridge in what will probably be one of the few times you can tear yourself away from the screen. Play at your own risk. Having said that, let me also warn you that if you are looking for a good old piratey story, go somewhere else. In fact, if you are looking for any story at all, Pirate Poppers is probably not the game for you. Of all the games I have played, this has to be the worst written. Just donít even bother reading the story unless you are looking for laughs. Even then, the painfully bad writing might be to much to bear. This is nothing deeper than a really great action puzzle game.

Pirateís: Be Ye Warned
If you have played Zuma, donít bother reading this review. The games are pretty much identical. I donít know if Play First got permission from Pop Cap Games, or if they are affiliated in any way, but it is absolutely certain that Pirate Poppers is a blatant copy of Zuma (Yes, Zuma came first). Donít get me wrong, Pirate Poppers is a great game, and it plays almost exactly like Zuma, so if you liked Zuma, youíll like Pirate Poppers (unless it just drives you crazy that itís a clone).

Three Ways to Be a Pirate
There are 3 game modes in Pirate Poppers: Adventure, Puzzle, and Arcade. Each one has 77 levels, although there are really only a few maps. They get re-used over and over, which is kind of nice later in the game when you need all the help you can get to keep up with the breakneck speed. In puzzle mode you have a group of balls, and you have only so many balls available to work with. You have to clear the screen using only those balls. This can be rather challenging. In arcade mode, you have a limited number of lives, and you earn new lives by collecting skull medallions. Adventure mode is what you will probably play the most. There is a map that you progress along, and each place on the map is a level. After all, what would a pirate game be without a treasure map?

The levels consist of a track along which chains of multi-colored cannon balls roll, starting from off-screen, and rolling toward a barrel. If they reach that barrel, you lose. Shiver me timbers! Donít worry, you canít run out of lives in Adventure mode. To stop the chains, you must match colors in groups of three to pop the cannon balls. Whenever you match three or more colors, those cannon balls pop, leaving a gap in the chain. The chain is pushed along from the back, so the gap will either close as the chain moves, or, if the cannon balls on either side of the gap are the same color, they will come crashing back together. If youíre clever and quick, you can build up chain reactions that way.

At the end of each chain of balls is a skull'n cross bones, and if you eliminate all of the balls in the chain before the next chain catches up, a treasure will pop out, and you can catch it with your cannon. The cannon, controlled by your mouse, moves along a track at the bottom of the screen. You can see the next two colors you will shoot on the cannon, to help you plan ahead. You just click to shoot, and right-click to switch between the two colors you have available. The game feeds your cannon the colors that are the rarest on the screen, which sometimes means you have to discard a few balls to get the color you need.

Treasures, power-ups, or skull medallions pop out when you make matches, and these all help you in one way or another. The treasures simply give you money, and as a bonus in the game you have a ďTreasure CoveĒ where you keep your accumulated treasures. After some levels you get piles of coins, jewels, swords, anchors, treasure chests, idols, or other shiny booty, and you can also see how many of each type of treasure you have collected. These include silver and gold cups, white and black pearl necklaces, rings, pirate hooks, and candlesticks.

The special cannon balls are chameleon ball, the super cannon ball, and the explosive cannon ball. Chameleon ball will become whatever color it touches, as long as it has a ball on either side of it. This is handy when you just canít get the colors you need. Super cannon ball will fly straight through everything, destroying whatever it touches, but it is only really useful when there are balls coming straight towards you. Explosive cannon ball will explode, as its name suggests, destroying everything within its blast radius with an extremely satisfying flash and ďboom.Ē The explosive ball is by far my favorite, because it almost always helps the most, if you use it correctly. I guarantee youíll be on the tip of your seat many times while the cannon balls are hanging over the edge, and you are frantically trying to match them or slow them down, and suddenly youíll get an explosive ball. You might jump out of your seat or sing a happy song, so let me suggest keeping all spill-able or breakable objects away from your computer while playing Pirate Poppers.


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