Pop-Up Pirate! (WiiWare)

Game Review

Pop-Up Pirate! Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Sean McDermott

Pop-Up Pirate! - a barrel of fun or a total wash-out?

Many of us will remember Tomy’s successful ‘board’ game, Pop-Up Pirate, from our childhoods. Cautiously inserting mini-daggers into the pirate’s unsuspecting torso in an attempt to avoid murdering the poor one-eyed soul – that’s what being a kid is all about! Well, perhaps not, but it sure was an entertaining activity during heavy rainfall when stepping outside would have resulted in walking the plank anyway. And now, Tomy has decided to bring us a video game conversion of its successful toy -- but how well does their WiiWare map out?

In essence the WiiWare adaption of Pop-Up Pirate is just a digital version of the toy -- there’s no radical gameplay change or alterations of the game’s premise, and Tomy has seen fit to include only two modes. The first, aptly named, "Pop-Up Party", is what you’ll remember from playing the toy: it simply involves the placement of small plastic swords into slots in a barrel, which encloses a fairly cheerful (considering his position) pirate, whilst attempting to avoid the sole opening that will lead to the pirate’s untimely ejection from his wooden prison. The loser of the game is the one who activates this rogue space.

This first mode is fairly good fun in multiplayer, but ultimately it’s also completely based on luck, and is too limited to hold your attention for too long, even with some friends. A diversion in the form of a shallow mini-game can occur here during play, entitled "The Captain’s Challenge". This event merely asks the player to thrust the Wii remote to the left, right, up, or down in an attempt to imitate the pirate’s movement. Every player has one shot at this before it ends, and successfully moving the remote in the correct direction results in you missing a turn, giving you a momentary advantage. It’s pretty dull and you’ll probably become bored of it soon enough, but it offers a small diversion from the repetitive and uninspired normal mode.

Unlike the Pop-Up Party game type, which can be played with up to 4 players, the other mode is exclusively for single player play. Known as "Pop-Up Logic," it follows a slightly different suit. Although what you’re doing with the Wii remote is basically the same, the fundamental difference is that there is more than one hole to avoid, the purpose being to place your sword in every "safe" slot on the barrel or cover every space that will result in some time being taken away from the limit in the corner of the screen. When a sword is slotted into a hole, a number appears over that slot, giving you an indication of how many rogue spaces are near that one. By checking the numbers surrounding open holes, the player can calculate how likely it is that the hole is safe. This brings a tactical element into the fray. Once the time limit reaches 0, you get a game over.

Each stage of Pop-Up Logic follows the same pattern as the last and although the inclusion of a single player mode is a welcome addition, it just doesn’t offer quite enough variety. More options to customise the game type would have been appreciated, because as it stands there’s just not enough to keep you coming back for more.

As expected, Pop-Up Pirate! is controlled entirely with the Wii remote. Short thrusts forward in conjunction with the A button slots the on-screen sword into its position, while the d-pad rotates the barrel that the pirate is housed in. Alternatively, holding in the B button and tilting the remote to the side also carries out the latter action. It works, and it works quite well. Nothing is mind blowing, control-wise, and Tomy plays it pretty safe with its implementation, but the main thing is that the remote functions properly without being frustrating (considering that’s pretty much all you’ll be doing in the game).

On the whole, the presentation is fairly solid. Pleasing, bright colours are present throughout and the graphics are actually quite nice, with some pleasant animations taking place before the start of each Pop-Up Party match. The menus are suitably designed to adhere to the pirate theme, however they offer the bare minimum of options -- you can’t even pause the game during Pop-Up Party/Logic matches. It would have been nice to have more customisation options, for example the choice of the background for the match. Similarly, although eventually quite repetitive, the music tracks are decent and are pretty appropriate for the game.

The biggest issue lies not with the control scheme -- it’s so simple that there’s ultimately nothing to fault in its mechanics -- or combination of graphics and sound, but its overall lack of content. Even for the low price of 500 Wii points, two extremely basic and short-lived game modes just don’t justify the cost. On-line play is a noticeable omission, and could have gone a long way toward adding some much-needed longevity to Tomy’s first title, considering the turn-based gameplay. Regrettably there is no such feature here.

Pop-Up Pirate’s main menu also houses some limited extra features. Firstly, a "Ranking" section saves the top five records (the stage that the player reached before getting a game over) from Pop-Up Logic. By default the captain is always the unsuspecting fellow who is trapped inside the barrel, however playing both of the game modes for a short period of time eventually permits the player to choose any of their Miis to replace the weary pirate.


Tomy has succeeded in converting Pop-Up Pirate! to a video game through the Pop-Up Party game mode. Although it works well, it doesn’t go far enough due to a lack of variety in the gameplay. This is the case for the game as a whole, you’ll only get a few hours of entertainment out of it at maximum. Although limited fun can be had in multiplayer, each game feels far too similar to the last and unfortunately the game makes no effort to alleviate this repetition. As it is, Pop-Up Pirate is hard to recommend unless you adore the original children’s game and are in desperate need of some nostalgic fun.

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User Comments (52)



EdEN said:

What's the block size? You know, out of sheer curiosity...



SilentJ said:

That's pretty bad. Nice to see reviews coming out fast. Onslaught review please!



KDR_11k said:

I'm not sure online would help it, it's a thinly masked game of Russian Roulette and I think it wouldn't be much fun without having people present (or at least connected with Wii Speak) that can laugh about the guy who messed up (or take a drink every time they lose...).



Adamant said:

Well, in the game's defense, it's only 5$, and offers more gameplay than the 50$ (or whatever it costs) "board game" version.

But eh, this isn't really a game you need a review to know whether you'll enjoy or not. It offers exactly what it says on the tin.



Kaeobais said:

Heh, me and my friends had a little russian roulette with my cap gun.

Anyways, good review. Didn't really excpect much from this. Let's hope Onslaugt doesn't follow the same route.



Mik said:

Nice review! This is a miss for me. I'm waiting for the Onslaught review =D



PiratePete said:

I never saw the appeal of this as a game. Bring on Onslaught review!

Onslaught looks good for WiiWare, imo. £7 is cheap too. Hudson seems to be doing well (yes, I'm getting Snowboard Riot still. SSX On Tour will still remain the best snowboarding game ever though. The GC version had Mario, Luigi and Peach along with Nintendo Village.)



mojo25 said:

I never was thinking about getting this game. I hope Onslaught gets a good review, because I'm really looking forward to that one.



MarkyVigoroth said:

Heh, I would rather play Russian Roulette with an Evoker. (The worst thing that can happen is fainting.) Then again, Evokers are better fit for "Japanese Roulette" in which you WIN when you shoot yourself.

As you may have deduced from above, I will avoid this game. This game is too sad for me (and not due to the score).



PiratePete said:

@ Bahamut ZERO: I've known about it for a while too! It's great, what with blogs, reviews, interviews and Wiiloveit TV.



Wiiloveit said:

@You gaise: yeah, but since I just do it in my own spare time, it doesn't get updated as much as I'd like, but I just signed up to Tesco rentals, so I can hopefully get a lot more reviews out other than just good old WiiWare. One problem... out of Bomberman 2, House of the Dead Overkill, Pikmin and Disney's Bolt, the game I am sent is... Chicken Shoot. Hmm...
Oh, and WiiloveitTV is getting better as well, and I'm starting to focus less solely on WiiWare with a lot more other videos, and today I got to the number 3 spot in the UK list of most viewed reporters (no doubt thanks to the new Mario & Sonic trailer)!
As for my review, I'm just happy that it gave me a chance to use the word "fallacious", since it makes me sound really clever
Anyways... keeping on topic: this is a silly game.



Philip_J_Reed said:

I don't think online play would make this any more appealing for me since it's 100% luck based.

Unlike games like Smash Bros or Bomberman or something, there will never be any difference in play between partners.

It'd be like if Mario Kart started out with every racer picking a number from one through twelve, and then instead of the race, a number pops up on screen and whoever picked it wins.

I can't imagine online play would make a game like that any more fun.



KnucklesSonic8 said:

Had a feeling this would be empty. Excellent wording in highlighting the cons of the game. Most of it were things I expected, honestly.

also: "This event merely asks the player to thrust the Wii remote to the left, right, up or down in an attempt to imitate the pirate’s movement" - This mode reminds me of a mini-game in SatSR.



KDR_11k said:

tkubas: As Yahtzee said, you can declare a game crap an hour into it but you shouldn't call it good before you've seen the entire thing. Large, complex games just take longer to review while this game was practicaly trivial



Ricardo91 said:

I continue to wonder why games like this ever get released. I'll continue to wait for the Onslaught review.



Bensei said:

I thought that it'd be bad, but I hoped it wouldn't for the nostalgia



Digiki said:

I thought that it'd be bad, but I hoped it wouldn't for the nostalgia

It isn't bad (according to the review) it's just lacking in content and variety, if you liked the original game there's nothing wrong with this.



Shortay said:

@Digiki: Yeah, it's definitely not a bad game, just slightly below average because of the several flaws I mentioned in the review. Big fans of the toy shouldn't hesitate in downloading it anyway since the WiiWare version is so similar to it - they just shouldn't expect much at all apart from that nostalgia.



Shortay said:

Thanks for the positive feedback everyone; it wasn't easy or particularly pleasant reviewing this one, but I really appreciate some kind words.



Wiiloveit said:

The thing that I was most disappointed about with it were the extra random luck-based mini game in party mode, which can't be turned off, and the way that the minesweeper style minigame is just too easy - otherwise, this might not have been so bad.



EJD said:

I wasn't expecting a lot from this game and predicted a 5 or less. I'm sure WiiWare will bring more board games though, which would be nice to bring some good multiplayer action. I'm guessing there will be a WiiWare Kerplunk or something else in the works.



MarkyVigoroth said:

Those who are not S.E.E.S. Member #1 and Objection Blaster, an Evoker is a gun that IS MEANT TO be shot at the head in order for you to summon.
Heh, I prefer breaking cards like in Persona 4. Besides (and you most likely already saw this), what if you used a real gun by accident?



Shortay said:

@Wiiloveit: I agree with you there. That mini-game in the first mode felt tacked-on and a desperate move by the developer to add some variety, but it just comes off as cheap.



Wiiloveit said:

If there was an option to play without the mini game, I would have seen it in a better light, since it is a cheaper version of the "board" game and worth spending £3.50 on. Ah well...



Objection said:

@Marky-I get to play P4 next weekend (borrowing because I don't have much money right now) but I didn't mind the way P3 did summons. (AKA BANG!)
Is there anyone on here who felt that PUP was worth the price of admission?



container1024 said:

Not a bad review.
@ Shortay - do you think this would be okay for 4 year old kids or would it bore them to tears.
Thinking of getting this for my little daughter.



StarDust4Ever said:

@32: Chicken Brutis: "I just got arrested for asking my neighbor's daughter if she wanted to play Pop-Up Pirate."

Well, how would you like it if I asked you to go outside and play "Chicken Shoot" - you'd probably call the cops, too!

All puns aside, Chicken Shoot for Wii really wasn't that bad of a game; quite hilareous if you think about it - my fiance (essentially a non-gamer despite my efforts to get her interested in video games) actually had a blast playing Chicken Shoot. She also loves Duck hunt [NES] and has a pink DS lite I gave her one year for Christmas, along with the game "Nintendogs: Dachshund and friends".



Shortay said:

@container1024: I'd say the game would be a fairly decent choice for a child of that age, although she won't get a lot of variety in it. A simple but fun game she may enjoy also is Pop.



Wiiloveit said:

@Shortay: good recommendation, there! I'd also recommend Fun! Fun! Minigolf if you are okay with helping her out on some of the harder stages.

Oh - and I hear that Mega Man 9 is very "in" with the four year old's these days
Nah, just kidding - but be sure to give FFM or Pop a look.

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