Game Review

Pirates: The Key of Dreams Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Marcel van Duyn

Is this pirate based game worth your pieces of eight or should it walk the plank?

Pirates: The Key of Dreams was originally meant to be released as one of the launch titles in Europe. For whatever reason, this failed to happen, but two months it has finally come out and perhaps lost some of its thunder. Interestingly it is a prequel to an upcoming DS game by the name of Pirates: Duels on the High Seas, which looks very similar in concept.

There are just two gameplay modes: story mode, in which you play on your own, and multiplayer battle mode (sadly with no Wi-Fi options), where you can challenge up to three of your friends. Let's talk about the single player game first.

The is a bit strange, to say the least. Pirates have become increasingly common around the world, so the governor of Port Royal, a famous harbour near Jamaica, sends you out to retrieve the "Key of Dreams." This key is said to make its owner into a battle master, able to easily defeat any enemy. However, as it is in the hands of a pirate, your ship is disguised as a pirate ship to make it easier to infiltrate. As a result, all the national fleets in the locations you visit mistake you for real pirates and attack on sight! You can select three ships in single player mode: - big (easy), medium or small (hard). The large ship has the most health and firepower.

The gameplay involves little more than sailing around and destroying other ships. There is some variety in the enemies, which include small, weak ships and large strong ones, as well as boathouses that spawn infinite boats until destroyed, gun towers, bomb boats which explode if they hit you, mine boats which drop floating mines, and others. You can use your standard cannonball fire to deal with enemies and there are also some special weapons, like rockets, saw blades, flamethrowers, etc.. Ultimately however, these all perform in exactly the same way; they even deal nearly the same damage (which is a moot point really, as you get multiple uses per pickup, enough to destroy anything).

Defeating enemies will sometimes leave a crew member in the water, who for a small fee you can pick up and recruit in order to increase your ship's firepower, speed, or sight distance on the mini-map. To be quite honest, you will not really notice too much of a difference in your ship's performance. To get the money to recruit these crew members, you will need to pick up treasure chests floating in the water, which give you $1000 each. If you're damaged (which you will be most of the time), every half second, you will automatically spend $2 on your crew to perform (extremely slow) repairs. You can also pick up tokens, which form a magical shield that temporarily absorbs enemy damage before breaking.

The story mode has ten levels altogether, so you'd think there would be room for some different objectives, but unfortunately the opposite is true. Every level is pretty much exactly the same in nature. Destroy enemy ships, pick up items, get to the end and you're done. Even the locations are very similar. You will only travel to Port Royal (Jamaica), Porto Bello (Spain) and Persia, so don't expect the lava or ice worlds as shown in the screenshots to appear in the story mode, they are only used in the multiplayer battle mode. The only time a real variation occurs is in the second to last stage where which ends with a ship battle with Blackbeard.

This battle is also the only time during gameplay where you'll hear music in the game. Otherwise, music plays only on menus and during story sequences. In every other level and in multiplayer mode, you hear nothing but waves, seagulls and sailing, aside from sound effects like cannonball fire and such. The gameplay suffers for being disrupted by frequent pop-up messages accompanied by a rather boring "Arrr!" sound effect. This gets annoying very quickly. Also,you will generally be notified that "an enemy fleet is up ahead" around ten times per stage!

Summing it, up the story mode is really quite repetitive, and you can complete the whole game in around ninety minutes with little real challenge. There is nothing to do now other than considering the multiplayer mode to see if it fares any better.

In multiplayer mode, you and up to three friends can duke it out in a small arena, set in one of seven locations, only three of which are from the main game. Each location in turn has seven different arenas, so at least there is a bit of variety to speak of. Before each match you set how many ships you need to destroy to win and what ship everybody uses. In each arena you will find money, special attacks and treasure chests to fund your crew. The multiplayer is quite good fun for a while, but it's really too bad that you can only play with friends locally. You can play against the CPU too, but this mode would have most definitely benefited from Wi-Fi functionality.


Pirates: The Key of Dreams is really a mixed bag. If you're looking for a single player game, you will come away severely disappointed. It's just not long enough to warrant the high price tag of 1000 Wii Points. It's also too repetitive, short lived and there is no reason to go back to it. If you're looking for a multiplayer game, then the battle mode is actually relatively decent, especially if you turn the turbo mode on to make everything go super fast. Overall, Pirates doesn't really sink, but it only just manages to swim! We recommend you save your pieces of eight for something better.

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User Comments (51)



Gavin_Rozee said:

Good review.

You should have mentioned in regards to presentation that it only runs in 4:3, as this will annoy alot of people.

The stupid flashing channel icon really gets on my nerves.



SilentJ said:

I was going to get this but now I'm not sure. I still hope it comes to america this monday. I'm still trying to recover after wasting wii points on spogs racing.



Raptor78 said:

Well I have to say that I have really enjoyed this title. The single player mode IS a lot shorter than I had hoped, but I found it entertaining. The multiplayer is really fun though and can give this game the extra legs needed to make it worth the 1000. I would have rated it a solid 8 to be honest and after playing this I am interested in the DS sequel.

What would be nice though is if additional Campaigns became available via DLC (hint, hint) to make use of some of the other enviroments only available in Multiplayer mode. But hey its still worth the £7.50 price tag, it should keep me going unitl Bommerman wiiware is released at any rate.



Terra said:

I'll probably still get this as i have a brother and sister, so multiplayer wouldn't be a problem and my brother has an interest in Pirates.



strade32 said:

10 levels, 90 minutes, 1000 points. it's lostwinds all over again- good game, way too short, and not worth the 1000 point price tag.



Mr_Game_and_Watch said:

It actually deserves a 9/10.
I think you don't like SHUMUPs because this title isn't repetitive in levels.Anyway great review but a bit underrated if SSR scored 7 with only 2 levels.



CanisWolfred said:

Darn, and I was looking forward to this one! I might get it someday, if I'm bored and have someone to play it with, but chances are those coditions won't be fulfilled come release. Oh well, I'll add that to my list of dissapointments.



Dazza said:

@Strade - I completed LostWinds and there is no way you can do it in 90 mins on your first run through. It is short, but not THAT short!

@Mr. Game - I know Marcel is a massive shmup fan. He's reviewed many of them on VC Reviews, lots of them have got good ratings. This really isn't a shmup though is it? I think you're missing the point about Star Soldier R, it is a score attack game, so by nature it is repetitive, the aim is to perfect your skills and do the perfect run.



AtTheDriveIn92 said:

less depth than critter round-up. oh my!

if this had been renamed,Ninja! the sword of dreams...8/10, no less.



Dazza said:

@Mr. Game - I haven't played it myself so I can't argue that one with you. Tell me however, how does level 1 vary from level 5 in terms of what happens? It sounded pretty repetitive to me in the review!



Ricardo91 said:

So this is a shmup? I thought it was a strategy game.

Anywho, a 5/10 and a really short campaign mode is disappointing. Not getting my 1000 points, unless I'm deathly bored.



Dokenzz said:

Meh, It wasn't I title I was looking forward to so it's not that big of a deal. Good review though.



DEMON212 said:

Bit dissapointed, thought it'd get a 7. It's a fun game with a brilliant local MP. Sure some things are a bit basic, but look at PoP. It's really basic. And since launch I've yet to go back to LW, which has to be the most boring game available to Wii owners.

And personally I'm very glad that they didn't sacrifice (SP) stuff to add crappy WI-FI.

Also, I thought that $2 charge was to restore health?



CanisWolfred said:

The main complaint that's keeping me is the power-ups: what is the strategic advantage for picking those up? Because from the review, it sounds they only change the look of your shots.



DEMON212 said:

Yeah, you only get charged when damaged.

@ Mickey.

Some weapons are faster than others, some reflect/bounce off walls, mines are obvious, flame is more defensive than offensive as anyone wanting to cannon you gets burnt etc...



CanisWolfred said:


Thank you, I'll once again be anticipating this game. Pirates are right up there with Robots and Ninjas, so unless it's really bad, I'll be hard press to turn it down.



DEMON212 said:

@ Mickey.

Just done some testing. It takes either 2 blades, 2 mines, 3 chainballs, 4 rockets, a ton of fire/cannonballs to kill someone. And all of them take different damage. Mines take the equivilent of 3 rockets for example.

This was with the big ships (Most energy). So maybe 1 of everything is enough to take down a small ship (Least energy), but all it means is, choose the big ships.



mikejonesuk said:

No online multiplayer! What a disappointment.

It's insane. This game would be perfect for online play (it seems to me). Why are most Wiiware producers ignoring online play? I don't understand it. Whatever else you think of Major League Eating, at least it has online play - and not just some leaderboard that I'll never get on in a million years.

I work and live away from home during the week, but I can have a game of Dr Mario with my wife any time. If Pirate:TKOD had online play I'd buy it, no problem. Now, I doubt I will as the single player seems to be weak and I've got no friends. Sad, eh!



DEMON212 said:

Don't you mean you can have a frame by frame game etc...?

I'm glad that no one's added online. NWFC sucks. It's laggier than XBL by far, and XBL is baaaaad.

All added it does is takes room away from other stuff. P:TKOD + Online = 5 missions and 3 variations for 4 MP Maps. Instead of 10, 5 & 7.



Raptor78 said:

@Demon212, I dont really find NWFC that laggy at all as far as I was aware the only real laggy game was Brawl. To be honest I couldnt imagine Pirates to be a laggy game if they had decided to go online, but your probably right that there would have been less of the other stuff.



Mr_Game_and_Watch said:

The actual levels are amazing some are easy some are hard the enemies are good ideas there are three difficultys the only bad thing is the actual story text which is endless.



Raptor78 said:

The story text IS ENDLESS, but the artwork that goes along with it is rather nice.



supermario2 said:

Why did they not put in WI-FI it would of been great, by the way I completed it in around 40-50 minutes, but atleast the game has M-P all I have 2 do now is convince my friends to come round and play good thing I got WALL-E today, cuz pirates is very very very repetitive and the ARRRR! and crew pop-ups arrrr annoying 1,000 points is just way 2 high 4 this it should of been atleast 500-700, is any1 with me on this?



sadpanda212 said:

@ supermario2

I have to disagree, we played this game on multiplayer last night for a good hour or so and only turned it off because of the storm overhead knocking out the power across the street.

Compared to Lost Winds (Short yet so boring I stopped playing after half an hour), Dr Mario (A NES game for twice the price) and My Pokemon Ranch (Woot, 1000 points for a storage box) this is one of the few Wii Ware games to be worth the points IMO. The others being Toki Tori(a steal at 900 points and easilly the best WW game) and Final Fantasy.



DEMON212 said:

Totally with Panda.

Almost ever WW is overpriced by tons, but I wouldn't say that this is one of them.

I've had tons more fun with this than LW, T.V, Dr. M, SSR & PoP. All of which should be 500 points.



Raptor78 said:

SadPanda is spot on. But so what if it isnt Supermario2's cup of tea, he doesn't think it worth the points and he has his own valid reasons for doing so . But on the other hand I like many others love the game and think its well worth the 1000. It was still a good review even if they only gave it an underestimated 5 out of 10. I'm just hoping that people who were interested in this before the review still give it a chance.



CanisWolfred said:

This is a demo, so chances are they took out online so you'll have an extra reason to get the DS game.



DEMON212 said:

I think it's a prequel. I'd hope so, because I'm not keen on paying £7 on a demo and then another £18 for a lil bit more of it.



Raptor78 said:

Yeah It is a self contained game / prequel rather than a Demo as such.
The developers would hope that people who like the DS game would buy the wiiware game and vicer versa. I am interested in the DS game, but would also be interested if they were to do any more chapters of the series via wiiware and who knows online could be an option next time after all the game took up so few blocks compared to other wiiware games that they have plenty of room to play with.



DEMON212 said:

Yeah, that's what I thought.

But yeah, I'm all for Pirates 2 on WW with a few more multi player options like teams, new weapons, more ships etc...

I'd want that more than what we have but online.



Pooter said:

Wish I would have read the whole review before wasting 1000 points on this game.




Demonic_St33V said:

@DEMON212 - For online play done right on the Wii, I point to MOH:H2. I've never had lag issues playing it, with the rare exception of times when my ISP was having issues over all. If it weren't for COH/V for the PC, it would be the only game I played online.

Regarding this game..... I may have to get it, sounds like it would be awesome for monthly game night. Which is, in all honestly, just an excuse for my friends and I to drink beer and yell obscenities at each other.



CanisWolfred said:


Yeah, I forgot it is a prequel, sorry (what is that face suppose to mean anyway?).

It would've been nice to see some online features, but then again, ever since I started playing a myriad of PC games(mostly demos), not only have I changed my stance against using personal computers for games, but I've also begun to fully embrace multiplayer gaming feature, especially online ones.

Quite frankly, while I could say that I'd like to see online features in this game, I could say that about any game, so it's really not that big a deal.

Also, I've been trying to get my hands on Medal of Honor: Heroes 2 for quite a while, but every store is either sold out of it, or doesn't carry it. I usually don't get into FPS's that often, and I rarely anicipate the arrival of a new one, and yet, when I do, I can't find it anywhere. Just my rotten luck...



Smannesman said:

I guess I'm the only one that thinks that this looks a lot like Shipwreckers! (the exclamation point is part of the title).



DEMON212 said:

@ Smann.

I believe that Shipwreckers is Overboard with a different name, right? If so, we've been saying that since the first screenshot appeared.



supermario2 said:

4/10 but it's a brill game except for the campaign and the obvious flaws in mp, no wait sorry I'm gonna have to agree wiv GamesRadar here



DEMON212 said:

So I assume GR gave Dr. M a 1? Because in comparison, Dr. M makes this play better than OOT.

One of the 3 games I'd ever give a 10 and IMO the greastest game ever to exist. All hail OOT!



Matt_Walker said:

I, too, thought this was going to be a rather good action/puzzle game. Oh, well. I guess I'll go elsewhere to spend my points.




Hmm. Great Review. I wasn't sure how this one was going to turn out, but thanks to your review i now know! Hey. WHy dont you have user ratings for games like on VCR i liked that.



calculon said:

Meh. It looked crap when the preview was out. Looks kiddy and annoying like one of those little mutiplayer games in the first two Banjo games - except not as good.

Another dissapointing week for WiiWare topped off with a god-awful week for the VC (and whilst I understand that IK+ WAS a classic, I hate the C64 emulation on the VC)



Tate24 said:

am so gutted this didnt get higher score,
when i first saw it i though it looked alot like Overboard that was on playstation.

Sadly it swiming with fish's at bottom of my want list now, with davee jones locker.....=(

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