Having been relentlessly pursued across the seven seas by those you’ve pillaged and plundered from, Enora Software’s iPirate Battle (out now, $0.99) sees you dropping your ship’s anchor, raising the Jolly Roger, and turning your cannons on a tooled-up fleet of attackers.
However, anyone hoping for a fast-paced series of firefights is likely to be sorely disappointed by iPirate Battle’s lackluster offering of one endless last stand, marred by under-polished presentation and the seriously sluggish movement of cannonballs.
In its defence, iPirate Battle does nail the basics right out the gate; a straightforward set of controls – press and hold down on cannons to prime, and swipe to shoot – means the game is easy to pick-up-and-play, while the top-down perspective and fixed viewpoint also work well in the scheme of things.
Unfortunately, the second the first few enemy crafts float onscreen the game begins to fall apart. For starters, as mentioned, cannonballs are frustratingly slow moving. This wouldn’t be such a problem if it weren’t for the fact that enemies’ projectiles seem turbo-charged by comparison.
The upshot of being armed with such feeble weaponry is that as waters begin to fill up with attackers, you rapidly find yourself outgunned, outmaneuvered, and taking heavy damage. When returning fire, irritatingly, rival ships will often have floated out of harm’s way before your shot reaches its target.
With a bit of perseverance, you will get the knack of successfully lining up shots and holding down on the cannon long enough to build up the necessary speed and momentum, but this system feels unnecessarily contrived and means the action fails to flow smoothly. While the absence of a healthbar for your ship means it’s impossible to judge how well you’re doing until it’s too late.
In spite of these issues, I did eventually find myself quite enjoying sinking the opposition, collecting power-ups, and racking up a highscore. However, with only one environment and the solitary aim of blasting your way to the top a leaderboard, iPirate Battle fails to provide a sense of achievement or a discernible reason to keep playing.
In short, despite boasting a fun concept, passable visuals and well devised controls, iPirate Battle feels too “bare bones”, quickly gets repetitive, and its firefights lack a sense of urgency and excitement. As is, iPirate Battle is tough to recommend, but it’s still a title worth keeping an eye on as Enora have promised a range of improvements come update time, including enhanced graphics and (thankfully!) much faster cannonballs.
iFanzine Verdict:Despite a solid piratey premise, iPirate Battle fails to live up to its full potential. That said, with a few tweaks here and there and the addition of more content this game could resurface as an explosively enjoyable top-down shooter. Arrr, here’s hoping.