I gotta be honest: I only bothered diving into this week’s pick because I was intrigued by its unique visual style, but I have to say that after spending some time actually playing Pirate’s Boom Boom I’m surprised by how much substance there is behind these catchy visuals. Sure, there are certainly some rough edges here, and I don’t totally love the name or anything, but by and large this is a really clever shooter that plays well on mobile and it doesn’t hurt that it looks so good while doing it.
So about those visuals, they are of the “Golden Age of Animation" variety similar to that of Cuphead which re-popularized the look a number of years ago. Everything is in black and white and all the characters and animation is hand drawn, which gives it a really distinctive look in motion. As for the actual gameplay this is a fixed position shooter where you need to fend off wave after wave of enemy pirate ships by blasting them with good old fashioned cannonballs. Adjust your aiming reticule with the left side of the screen, fire using a button on the right side of the screen, and as the title says make the cannonball go boom boom.
You have a few unique special abilities at your disposal too, which work on a cool down system. One simply increases your rate of fire so you can snap off shots as fast as your hot little finger can push the button. Another fires a barrage of cannonballs all at once, like a machine gun, for a short period of time. Finally you have a healing ability thanks to your crow buddy that flies along with you during your battles. Strategic use of these abilities is key as the barrage of enemies and their health increases along with each new wave. There are 99 waves in total, if you can manage to last that long.
There are also multiple types of enemy ships as well as some sort of “boss" style ships, and there’s a few different level types to break up all the shooting from time to time. Generally you’ll be earning coins as you play which can then be put towards upgrading and unlocking a huge skill tree of new abilities. There’s a lot to do here and it’s one of those games where you feel like every time you play you’re making some sort of progress, and it’s also hard not to have “just one more go" when you become close to unlocking a new upgrade or ability.
Pirate’s Boom Boom is free to play with a video ad that plays every handful of levels as well as opt-in ads for unlocking treasure chests for additional goodies. Strangely there is no remove ads IAP which is a shame, but there’s also no IAP of any kind, so as long as you’re cool with the occasional ad it’s actually kind of nice knowing you’ll have to work towards all your unlocks rather than ponying up for some sort of box of coins IAP or something. Still, I’d love a simple remove ads option.
There’s a ton to like about Pirate’s Boom Boom despite having several things to nitpick, and it kind of reminds me of the types of games we’d see on mobile a decade or so ago, so in that sense there’s a certain charm to it that’s really appealing to me. Also you just can’t beat the feeling you get when you line up a shot and lead it just perfectly to nail a ship that’s way WAY out on the horizon, like a quarterback launching a Hail Mary and being able to drop it into a receiver’s hands who is cutting all the way across the field. You get that feeling over and over again in Pirate’s Boom Boom, and almost for that reason alone it’s worth taking for spin.