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Review: Rumbeard the Pirate
Avast there, ye scurvy dogs. Anchors away and splice the mainsail. Hafenrundsfahrensboot! Etc. Anyway, the objective of this game is to sail merrily around the high seas as Rumbeard the Pirate, collecting barrels o' rum and returning to port for a shindig. Not sure that last one's a piratey term, and it's getting difficult to write like this anyway, so I'll stop now. Trying to stop you from collecting the kegs are various different kinds of ships - everything from small fishing trawlers to Viking longboats are out to get you. Rumbeard obviously isn't very popular around these waters. They can be dispatched by use of a well-placed cannonball.
Each ship, and the rest of the graphics in general, are very well detailed (3D modelled and rendered, I'm told). The only exception to the good graphics is the sea, which is obviously a Quick Backdrop. Nothing tragic, though.
Floating around the sea are various pickups, most of which give you points (treasure chests) but some give you extra spells - used to clear the waters of all ships except your own - or extra lives. Lives are lost by running into just about anything - cliffs, the sides of the area, ships, stray cannonballs, icebergs, to name but a few. You only have five of them at the start of the game, and keeping them is a real challenge, especially in the later stages.
Once you've collected all the barrels, the game shouts "The holds are full" at you in German (you see, four years of German finally paid off) and you have to travel back to the port to deliver the rum, where the festivities last all of five seconds before the rum runs out again. These pirates, I ask you. This means it's back on to the water for another rum-gathering voyage.
Gameplay is repetitive, but it's well executed enough to keep you coming back for more. In each level you're given a time limit, represented by the amount of food you have left. When this reaches 0 you keep losing lives until your ship sinks beneath the waves.
It's not without its faults, however. Cannonballs can be fired at a rapid rate - they must be using one of those auto-loading minicannons as seen in Monkey Island - and they seem to travel too far, making it easy to get rid of enemy ships quickly. They fire forwards rather than from the sides as in many pirate games. Also there's a small glitch when you are taken back out to sea - the ship spins around 180 degrees as soon as you press a direction (from heading South to heading North). You soon get used to it, however.
I've always maintained that German is a great language. The help file (HTML) is pretty well translated into English, with the only tragic mistake being "Arousing Magic" (which would probably be necessary after that much rum, in fact). But anyway, despite its repetitivity, this game's very well made and will keep you coming back during the dull lunch hours, if only to beat your high score and get shouted at in German.
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David Newton (DavidN)