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Pop Up Pirate! - WiiWare Review

Game Info
Pop Up Pirate!

WiiWare | Tomy | 1-4 Players (Alternating) | Out Now | 500 Nintendo Points
Controller Compatibility: Wii Remote
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28th May 2009; By Billy White

No doubt you'll remember Pop Up Pirate, the game where you have to poke swords in a barrel with the hope of avoiding a certain hole which will release the pirate into the air, before landing on one of your friend's heads. Yes, it was a fun way to waste away at our childhood, but there was one problem with it: it was all just luck. So, can the WiiWare version add anything else to the mix for this rendition to be worth the extra money?

    This plays just as you'd expect really. You turn the barrel by using left and right on the d-pad, and then hold A and swing forwards with the remote to push one of your pieces into the correct position. It's pretty simple stuff, and can be played with two to four players, with up to three CPU's or four human players. To make this version more interesting, there is a short cutscene after every turn where the camera will cut to different expressions on the pirate's face, adding to the "suspense" of the moment. When you do hit the wrong spot in the barrel though, there isn't the shock from the original, and so it playing it will often feel a bit pointless.

    There is an extra mode here though, in the form of a minesweeper style puzzler, where you have to slot a sword into the barrel and try to avoid one of several bad spots. Each time you play a sword, a number will appear beside it. This number indicates how many of the adjacent spaces (above, below, left and right) are fallacious, and helps you to avoid the wrong positions, which have to be marked seperately. If you do hit one of the wrong holes in this mode though, you don't lose the game, but instead will cut your remaining time limit by half. Extra seconds are added each time you complete a level or choose correct positions on the barrel, and this, alongside the small area (upping the height to three rows still isn't enough) make it unbelievably easy, and the lack of challenge will soon bore you.

    We knew that we could trust Tomy though (see what I did there?) and that isn't all that there is to this game. Mii's also make an appearance once you've played five games or reached past level five in the Pop Up Logic mode, and they add a bit of fun to the game, even if they don't do much and have to be reselected through the awkward menu interface each time you play. As well as this, every now and then in the standard party mode, you'll also come across a quick, randomly timed mini game, where you have to swing the remote in one of four directions on cue. If you guess the same one as the CPU (which isn't likely), you get that turn off, but if you get it wrong, you have just three seconds to make your next move. This does add something new to the game, we can't fault them for that, but the problem is that it just doesn't work - the controls didn't even register correctly on some occasions! If there was the option to remove this feature, then we would just forget about it, but there isn't, which means that there is no real way of playing Pop Up Pirate how it was always meant to be.

    With friends, this game can be a bit of fun, but not for long. The cheap graphics don't look too bad and the background music is passable (although the character quotes get quickly repetitive and tiring), but when the game simply consists of random positioning, short cutscenes and luck (which seems to favour on the CPU's side), you'll soon tire and won't continue playing past an hour. If there was the option to play this in the normal way rather than with the extra jazzy features, then this would warrant a purchase over the original at just 500 Wii Points, but instead, Tomy tried to be too creative for their own good and ruined the only opportunity available here.

11/30 - Very Poor

Gameplay 3/10 - 
Simple fun, ruined by the extra mini game and lack of anything remotely challenging
Presentation 4/10 - 
The simple graphics and "fun" music could have been a lot worse, but their repetitive nature and endless quotes ruin the experience
Enjoyment 2/5 - 
With a few friends, you can spend a few minutes of fun here if you're not doing anything else
Extra Content 2/5 - 
Fails at being a digital version of the original thanks to the extra mini-game, offers Mii's and the limited minesweeper mode

Equivalent to a score of 60% (percentage score is approximate and based solely on the previously stated rating)

Pop Up Pirate!
Review | Trailer | FootageScreenshot gallery | Feature | Interview
Review by Billy White  |  How we rate games

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