Pirates – Key of Dreams WiiWare
Back in the days before the internet, pirating meant so much more than just downloading a few songs. It was a proud tradition of crime, villainy and poor hygiene. Pirates: Key of Dreams attempts to splash a bit of cartoon colour on that way of life and present it anew.
To get straight to the point; KoD is not very good at all. It manages to tick so many boxes on the ‘what not to do’ list it’s untrue. The concept sounds like it could be so much fun. A child-friendly, pirate romp that seems slightly reminiscent of the old style GTAs at heart, fun should ensue. Should being the operative word. For a start, the story is pointless. It does nothing to make you interested in what you should be doing and only loosely ties all the levels together. Even if the plot was in some way entertaining, you’d never realise it because the gameplay gets so very very boring so very very quickly. Every level consists of sailing your boat through a linear pathway sinking everything that dares fire upon you and occasionally picking up some stuff. Your ship handles like it’s possessed by some other being creating a somewhat life-like feel, if real sailing feels shaky and unpredictable. Gaining proper control of the ship is the only challenge present here. No matter what difficulty setting you pick, this game is still far too easy. Racing through a couple of levels is unsatisfying, and just isn’t exciting enough to warrant any follow up play. I doubt many honest people would admit to powering this game on more than twice. There’s no hook, nothing to pull you back for more.
Although the skirmishes are supposed to be the real action, they’re no less tedious than the in-between sailing bits. Not even the inclusion of various additional weapons can spice things up. Cannons are the standard, but you can also fire a few other projectiles at times. Don’t get your hopes up, they basically all do the same thing just with different names. Battles are slower paced and less demanding than even TBS fights. Just repeatedly tap the fire button whilst moving a little bit to sink the enemies. It might help if the AI was semi-intelligent, or there were more than 2 varieties of enemy. I get that the game is supposed to be relatively simple, but KoD goes way too far with it. All of that complex material has been ignored like combo systems and enemy team AI but so much has been stripped away to make it a barebones experience that the game has also been torn out. What’s left is just a shell, a game which constantly implies that there’s more but just doesn’t deliver. To it’s credit, KoD has a few different locations, but does it really matter? There isn’t much time to actually look at what fleeting glimpses of scenery flash by your ship, and if you ever do it turns out that they quickly become as mundane as everything else.
A major aspect of the game is the multiplayer. It seems the dev’s hopes were resting on this game mode being the main attraction. Why anyone would be cruel enough to get their friends and family members involved in this game is beyond me. Playing with someone else inevitably makes it a little less painful, but that’s solely because of the other player, not the game. The more the merrier definitely doesn’t apply here as not even the four way multiplayer, nor the large choice of arenas can entice you to pour away more of your life into KoD.
Ironically, KoD sums itself up in its own lacklustre ‘Yar’ sound effect, which becomes annoying from the very start. That’s just what Pirates: KoD is; lacklustre. No amount of Pirate clichés can cover up the mess of the game beneath. I could make a very long list of all the things it needs more of; more ship upgrading options, more varied level design, but most of all, it just needs more effort.