299847_largerLet’s be honest: if you’re a fan of Ron Gilbert’s work you’re already playing Scurvy Scallywags [$1.99], only reading to make sure I give the game a score you can agree with. Scroll to the bottom, and thank me later. For everyone else: I hope you’re looking for a match-3 that’s more than what the App Store has accustomed you to; because Beep Games’ latest pirate-themed matcher is exactly that.

Scurvy Scallywags takes a customizable pirate avatar island-hopping across the seas, plundering familiar match-3 gameplay, for loot, while defending from the likes of undead swashbucklers. 16 verses of The Ultimate Sea Shanty – a charming pirate-jingle you have set sail to collect – are sprawled across a dozen hours of gameplay, wrapped in an art-direction that often feels inspired by Spumco cartoons.

Scurvy Scallywags uses an unorthodox method of shifting around the match-loot, making it feel new while allowing more strategic control over the playing-field. Items, enemies, and swords enter from all four edges of the board, instead of dropping from the top like most other match-3 games. Whichever direction you choose to shift-items, while making an item-chain, determines from which direction new objects fill the playing-field.

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The avatar also takes up a spot on the board, left vulnerable to enemy attacks if found side-by-side with one. Matching 3+ swords increases your attack-rating.  Stack up attack to a value higher than an enemy to best your opponent in battle. This combat-system reveals itself the tutor on how this match-3 is *supposed* to be played; maneuvering your pirate away from enemies - through well plotted matches - while anxiously collecting swords - which increases your attack rating.

To my surprise, Scurvy Scallywags is not simply about clearing a board’s objectives and moving on; it’s about survival. Moving your pirate successfully around a board covered in enemies leaves more time for matching & looting, collecting quest items – YAR, lots of side-quests – and time to build up attack-power. Also, with an item-shifting mechanic, like so - that takes some time to grow accustom to - surviving is not easy. It sure is an immensely fun challenge though.

mzl.hlfrcuvjAs you progress through the seas of Scallywags your chubby pirate levels-up, allowing you points to upgrade 1 of 5 attributes. Your precious loot gets spent or the many available skills – like swapping adjacent pieces on the board that don’t match or 50% attack damage. You know, standard RPG stuff. In fact, RPG systems are littered throughout the game; from a ship-crafting system to extensive quest-logs to collectable outfits. All of which help add depth and legs to this match-3 experience. If that’s not enough, the random joys of looting chests, and gifts, are represented in a tantalizing slot-machine system keeping excitement high.

Scurvy Scallywags ran without a hitch on all my iOS devices – iPad, iPhone, and iPod touch. Yet, over on the TA Forums I’m hearing grumbles of crashes. While I can only speak for myself, if you’re concerned of these issues I’d suggest heading over to our forums to FAQ-check the situation for yourself. It ran flawlessly for me, though.

There’s very little that frustrated me with Beep Games’ latest. Even the single IAP – which is an unnecessary coin-doubler – is un-intrusive and tucked away. What little gripes I’d have left stemmed from endearing yet repetitive music, a lack of character-slots and deleting options, and a desire for less-linear progression through the earlier stages of the game.

I was never bored, nor distracted, when playing; the challenge of surviving as long as I could on a single board was engaging, and never felt the same way twice. Game Center achievements are well designed and help steer the player to approach gameplay differently. Also, when the pacing begs to kick-it-up-a-notch, late game enemies maneuver and attack differently, forcing plotted-moves to fire from my brain like cannon balls. Eventually the game boils down to much more than the traditional "find the single available match and cross your fingers" trope the match-3 genre has garnered.

Scurvy Scallywags bleeds the charm and personality of Ron Gilbert’s classics, and is something to appreciate in a landscape of games that often find themselves without an identity. As far as match-3 games go, these days: one this chunky – in content - and fun to play, while shedding the trickery of IAPs, is a god-send. Beep Games manages an approachable, strategically-deep, and personal entry into a genre that typically lacks it. Play Scurvy Scallywags or walk the plank? I highly recommend the former (cue pirate voice) and a bottle of rum.

TouchArcade Rating

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  • Nycteris

    This (and the coin doubler within it) was an instabuy, and I am not disappointed. I have had no crashes on my iPhone 4.

    • TheFrost

      Same for me bit on my iPhone 5.

      Do yourself a gaming favor and buy this masterpiece (also buy the coin doubler) and lets see what Mr Ron Gilbert and Beep Games does next for iOS.

  • FrehleyzComet

    No crashes for me either. This is easily one of the best games I've played on iOS yet.

  • Tim Jordan

    I'm loving the game so far but have had a few crashes on my iPad 3 (usually only after playing straight for over an hour) but after a quick reboot I'm back in right where I left off.

  • ramon31

    Best match 3 game since the original puzzle quest on the DS.

  • oldgamer dude

    Been super excited for this since it was announced, and it's exceeded my expectations. Deceptively deep, fresh and just loaded with charm , and fun as a barrel of monkeys :) Don't miss out and support these great developers, because it's all that and a bag of fish and chips! Yarrr

    Grog optional

  • Nick

    Yes. Yes yes yes yes yes.

    This game is amazing.

    I haven't enjoyed a puzzle game like this since Dungeon Raid.

  • Qualitybeats

    Glad you are agreeing.

    I straddled the line between 4.5 stars before coming to the realization of the underlying mechanics; of surviving as long as possible on a board.

    Thanks for reading!

  • ColeDaddy

    Bought on the strength of this review. Spot on comments. I'm glad to have purchased this gem!

  • Alex Wolf

    In the forum noo evidence of negative comments :D
    I like

  • jamarohn

    This has the same addictive quality that 10000000 had on me. Easily recommended, which is what a 5-Star review is all about.

  • UnSurreal

    Bought.

  • FledgeFish

    I love the game but sadly the icloud save function isn't working

    • Qualitybeats

      I had no troubles with iCloud saves between devices. Make sure our iCloud settings and login are correct. If still no luck, make sure to keep the forums informed.

      • jamarohn

        Same here. No problem with iCloud. Make sure you have your iCloud settings set in your iOS Settings (not the Settings within the game app).

      • FledgeFish

        Yeah, all my stuff is correct. This seems to be the case with most of my games, try only that icloud saves work on is warhammer quest

  • bigukdaz

    Amazing game had no crashes and iCloud works great. Thanks for making such a great game.

  • GamerGuy

    This is how it's done, take a fun match 3 mechanic and make it awesome! And it's not just awesome because it's pirates, it's all about the game play!

  • Mj1ggy

    I don't usually buy games immediately but the look and theme of this game won me over. Very glad I did, this is a great match 3 with tons of charm.

  • bluspacecow

    I was amazed at the battery use of this game.

    Played it for almost 2 - 3 hrs off and on and my iPod never complained about low battery that it does for other games.

  • rogel5

    Loving it but it doesn't seem to support multitasking on my iphone 4 - a shame because the levels can go on for some time! Is it worth reinstalling or is that just how it is?

    • Qualitybeats

      Hmm. I didn't notice any multiple-tasking issues on my devices. Even when it rebooted mid-board it started where I left off

  • http://www.silentrocco.com/ Silent Rocco

    Best matching game since 10000000. It's absolutely amazing. Fresh mechanics, brilliant presentation, tons of charm. Love it!

  • Adams Immersive

    " if you’re a fan of Ron Gilbert’s work"

    What would we know him from? I don't recall.

    • brittspace

      Lots of old adventure games. Escape from Monkey Island probably being one of the more well known, and has an iOS port!

      • Adams Immersive

        Cool--I've played a couple Monkey Island games.

  • brittspace

    There is more IAP, but completely unnecessary. You have to click on the buy button for an item you can't afford.

    Admittedly a huge Gilbert fan, but this is the first match 3 that I don't swipe-n-cross-my-fingers. Even in 10000000 it was mostly that, with this being the first that I'll pass on a match to ensure I keep the board the way I like it. It took a while to really understand the movement system, but once if finally clicked I'm deeply hooked.

  • lancheta

    Great gameplay mechanic with the matching system. It has a sort of cat and mouse feel when trying to avoid enemies as they corner you. The powerups are unique and the artwork is top notch :)

  • Morgan01

    Concerned about the IAP structure in the game. Although there is no need to us the IAP in the early stages, many games make up for this with paywalls

    • Morgan01

      We'll have to wait until later stages to truly understand the IAP structure in this game.

  • http://www.ebog.me/ ebog

    Very useful and supportive article. I wish I can do all of
    that in a short period of time.

  • Bluejunco

    Is this game universal. If so I noticed the better developers let you play on iPhone and iPad at different times but it continues where you left off on the other device.

    Is this up to date with this?

  • LOLCAT

    I am absolutely adoring this game, but one thing is bugging me. I really hate how you have to start over when you die. I find it really tedious and hate saving up money to pay for the revival costs, which keeps me away from purchasing perks. Other than this relatively minor complaint, the review was spot-on. I wouldn't have discovered this game If it wasn't for TA. Thank you!

Scurvy Scallywags Reviewed by Jeffrey deMelo on . Rating: 5