By: Quinn Potter
Argh! Welcome aboard, matey! Don’t mind the pixilation, just jump in and start role playing as a tiny pirate in Pixel Piracy’s sidescrolling sandbox of fun.
Controls are pretty basic (forward, backward, attack) and can’t be remapped.
Pixel Piracy is, as one would guess, pixelated. This game isn’t as highly pixelated as some others that we’ve seen lately, and the pixilation isn’t consistent throughout the game. For example, the volcano is clearly pixelated, whereas the smoke is not. Around the tropical island, palm trees and characters are pixilated, but the sky and beach are not. This presents a kind of mish-mash of graphic styles.
Unfortunately, some of the best graphics aren’t the ones that are pixelated, which makes us wonder why the game’s title draws attention to this. The water is smooth and glassy and it’s easy (and fun) to watch the sharks chase smaller fish under the surface.
Clouds are a combination of circles with slightly jagged edges and have a nice bit of shading when they overlap. The sun is straight out of a ’60s pop art catalog and has small beams of light that flicker on and off. The color palette is bright and fun.
This throwback to a bygone era is cute at first but frustrating in the end. Small, pixelated fonts make the menus difficult to read. The graphic icons used on the menus aren’t always helpful, either.
The soundtrack is enjoyable. A light-hearted flute or simple strings accompany most of the benign action. When tension picks up, a more complete orchestra jumps in with drums and additional strings to highlight the gameplay. At other times, a light-hearted marimba or some steel drums strike up the pace as the fighting gets feisty.
To start, a short tutorial demonstrates how to hire crew members and navigate menus. The overall mission is to fight four world pirate leaders to become the world’s best pirate. To do this, you build your ship, expand your crew, upgrade your weapons and explore areas to find loot.
Customizing your ship and combating rivals are two enjoyable features. All templates are randomly generated, so each gaming adventure will be unique. In addition, making ship adjustments or making different decisions about how to allot your time (looting, fighting, acquiring crew) will also change the direction of your pirate’s narrative.
We’ve heard a few reports of glitches with the Xbox One version of this game, most of which had to do with crew. The first crew member we purchased promptly died in battle, so it’s little wonder that others haven’t found this feature very attractive. Supposedly, if you get all things working properly, fishermen should fill your larder, cleaners will make your vessel shipshape, and crew members will rally to ensure your victory.
Overall, there’s no compelling narrative to drive the action forward. There are a number of spots in the game where the tutorial doesn’t give clear instructions on how to proceed. In addition, there are no options for co-op play, either local or online.
Despite some problems, Pixel Piracy can be fun to play, nostalgic and enjoyable. That being said, it suffers the more time you invest as things become noticeably repetitive.