Pirates Assault (DSiWare)

Game Review

Pirates Assault Review

USA USA Version

Posted by Philip J Reed

Stealing your money in more ways than one

CIRCLE Entertainment has carved out a fanbase for itself with the DSiWare crowd, due in large part to the consistently excellent Castle Conqueror series. It's had a few misfires along the way — see The Seller — but, by and large, gamers have been able to count on CIRCLE's releases to feature a hefty amount of charm, appealing craftsmanship and a subtle but sharp sense of humor.

Pirates Assault, unfortunately, seems to have been expressly designed to cure us of those expectations forever.

Hoping to do for tower defence what Castle Conqueror did for real-time strategy, Pirates Assault shambles disastrously into view and hopes that you'll download it without reading any reviews first, or look at any screenshots, or interact in any way with anybody unfortunate enough to play it. It's a game with no focus and absolutely no redeeming features. At times it even seems to feel embarrassed of itself.

The game's plot is as such: there's a pile of treasure on the beach, and you need to erect armaments to fight off the encroaching pirates who want to steal it. It's a sturdy enough justification for a tower defence game, but that's the only sturdy thing you'll find in Pirates Assault.

The manual describes the game as "tower defence with a twist." What that "twist" is is anyone's guess, though, as the game plays exactly like any other tower defence title, only with much less to offer and a far greater capacity to disappoint. The developer intended to spice things up by allowing you to reclaim stolen treasure by tapping pirate ships five times. That may qualify as perhaps the least interesting twist in the history of gaming, though, as "tapping pirate ships five times" is about as far from an engrossing activity as we can imagine.

The controls are terrible, too. The touch screen is used for all input, which is fine, but the simple act of placing armaments is a nightmare, as the screen slips and slides around under your stylus. While some areas of the beach allow for placement, other areas — which look no different — do not, meaning you're doomed to wrestle units into place only to have the cursor turn red or the unit to disappear entirely, which is the game's way of telling you "hey, now you've wasted your money and your time."

There are only four types of armaments you can place, which means you'll see literally everything this game has to offer in terms of variety within about three minutes. Pirate ships sweep in and out of frame with no regard for logic or physics, and the playing area is deceptively huge, meaning you'll either waste all of your time dragging the screen around in order to see what's going on, or you'll just concentrate on the area nearest the treasure and ignore everything else.

The currency of Pirates Assault is rum, and you'll have to cash in a particular number of bottles in order to place a unit or upgrade it. Rum is replenished by tapping rapidly on passing ghost ships, because there just wasn't enough mindless tapping of passing ships in the game already.

If your treasure survives enough of the pirates' attempts to haul it away, the level will end and you'll receive an arbitrary ranking from one to three stars. Do this five times and you've completed every level in the game.

The presentation of this game is the epitome of bland. Its graphics are the sort of thing somebody might slap together in their first month of learning Flash, and no personality or detail seems to have been invested in the design whatsoever. Ships, armaments and environments all look frustratingly incomplete, and the music veers between dull and outright terrible. Much as in Come On! Heroes, many of the tracks sound horrid and shrill, almost like the result of a glitch that was never caught before release.


Pirates Assault is, simply, a fiasco. With none of CIRCLE Entertainment's customary charm or craftsmanship to be found, it's an uninspired slog through tower defence mediocrity. Everything from the presentation to the core experience is sorely lacking, and reeks of rushed completion. A measly five stages will ensure that even its small number of fans will be left feeling disappointed. Believe us, there's no treasure to be found here.

From the web

User Comments (32)



Retro_on_theGo said:

Wasn't expecting much.

Were all NL reviewers force to change their avatar to their face, because of that new bio after reviews?



ueI said:

@Retro_on_theGo TBD still doesn't have a human avatar. I wonder what she's hiding?

So would this game get a 0 if such a score were possible? After reading The Seller review, nothing CIRCLE does surprises me.



Odnetnin said:

I love how I can tell when it's a Chicken review by the end of the first paragraph without even reading your name, Chicken.



Alienfish said:

Is the game actually broken? It may be terrible, but a 1 should be reserved for games that simply fail to work. I watched the video and I would say it probably ranks closer to a 3 or 4 than a 1.



Spoony_Tech said:

I feel sorry for Phil. That's two 1 ratings in about a months time. Good review though and thanks for the heads up as I might have downloaded it!



sinalefa said:


I actually guessed it was a Chicken Brutus review by looking at the score. The bio suggests that he actually seeks to review these games instead of being impossed upon him.

As far as I know, the avatars are different from the bio pictures, and Corbs would be a good example of this.



grumblegrumble said:

Wow. Not very many games get a "1"! My most hated dsiware series "Master of Illusions" series didn't even get a 1! (Or did it?) lol. So this must be THAT bad. I will definitely steer clear then. Thanks for the heads up! I'll spend my monies elsewhere.



theblackdragon said:

@Retro: not our site avatars, no, but some did make the move to switch their site avatars to match their staff bio ones. the staff bio images do have to be of us IRL, but we're free to have whatever site avatars we like :3



Oregano said:

Did Circle actually develop this inhouse? Not disagreeing with the score but I noticed that on their website it's listed under "cooperation product" so I was curious.


I also noticed that their first eShop game seems to be releasing soon! Sweet Memories: Blackjack(and Devil Band for DSiware) have both been bumped up the list and have "Upcoming" on there. Castle Conqueror Dark Age(the one coming for the eShop) has a spiffy new banner as well!

Anyway, cheers for the review. I won't be downloading this.



Bassman_Q said:

@Koops3 - Same here.

That's a shame that it got such a terrible score... I was actually kind of looking forward to this one because on the DSi shop it seemed to be a fun little time-waster for $2. Guess I was wrong...
But how can it be so much worse than Come On Heroes? That was just a wreck altogether.



Vincent294 said:

@SanFrisco9er Well, that's how I started, except I became amazing. I pulled off a multiplayer game, a way to make a story-driven game (the implementation of a password system), a non-linear fighting game (which was canned several times, took forever, had to be mapped out on paper, took a few compromises, and has 2 glitches, 1 of which is a little more than cosmetic).



RR529 said:

@ NintinDude97, has DSiWare really gone downhill? Sure, there were a couple of great games (like the ones you mentioned), but I thought crap like this was much more normal on the service, as I never hear anything good about it.

As a 3DS owner, I've stayed away from DSiWare, and I don't feel like I've missed out on anything real big. It seems like the "3DSWare" has supassed the quality of DSiWare in little under a year from what I've heard (and experienced).

I want to point out that I'm not trying to troll the DSiWare service, because I know it has a few gems, but it's by far the weakest download service I've ever heard of.



Knuckles said:

@Reala I checked the eshop last night at 10 o'clock pst and it had 5 reviews, (4) 5 stars and one 4 stars. I can tell Chicken either hasn't posted his eshop review or didnt play the game for an hour. I think its the latter.



Reala said:

@Knuckles just 5 reviews and so soon, could be the developers themselves reviewing their own game it happens, I certainly wouldn't trust such a small number of eshop ratings so soon personally haven't played it myself but I'm going with nl's review on this one and avoiding it.



Marakuto said:

Even those girly fashion games has better ratings than this! It must be that terrible and rushed to get that review, but who knows you might actually enjoy until the review kicks in...



Dreadjaws said:

I agree. I have seen some early ratings for games in the eShop be very different from the ratings they'll have a few days later.



Kitsune_Rei said:

Thanks for confirming what I suspected.
Circle, for me, has quite a track record of making a game that appeals to me graphically and in gameplay style, and sound like they should be good games. They look cute. They sound fun. And then upon playing, you find out what shallow cesspools they are. Now whenever I see their name on a game I just sigh.

"...consistently excellent Castle Conqueror series..." Really? I could probably give them "consistant". But "excellent"? I played CC. It was basic, shallow, and didn't feel more than doing the same thing over and over with little variation in strategy. Sure, its probably one of their best titles. But that's not saying much.
I'd say the one I liked best was 3 Heroes Crystal Soul. I liked the puzzle-rpg style, but it certainly didn't offer much in enticement for replay. I pretty much take it out when I have 5-10min to kill.

I really wanted this to be a cool game, since again the initial graphics seemed charming, and I like tower defense (despite how much people seem to whine about yet another TD game.) And its apparently yet another one that fails to do it right. I still havn't found one that feels like a great game.

I'm starting to think when Circle says "with a twist" its time to start running.

Please oh please Circle, I like your style but you need to put something more to your games. I understand these are budget titles, but I'd pay a couple bucks more if they had something more to them.



Undead_terror said:

to bad i didnt keep my money,got it day one since i had the money and it sucks,as well doescome on heros,not gonna get anything else from circle



Philip_J_Reed said:

Really? I could probably give them "consistant". But "excellent"?

I personally love the CC series. If it seems a bit too simplistic for your tastes, try Castle Conqueror: Heroes. It's turn-based and offers much more depth in terms of strategy. That's if — and I understand this is a big if! — you wanted to give them another shot.

I'm starting to think when Circle says "with a twist" its time to start running.

You and me both!



DarkEdi said:

Castle Conqueror Heroes is a great game. I downloaded too Castle Conqueror Against because it is 200 points but i continue preffering Heroes. It is more addictive and it has a great history. I love the 2 games but i preffer Heroes over Against.

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