Unless you're one of the few people who completely ignore Hollywood, you know that Pirates of the Caribbean, the popular Disney theme park attraction, was recently made into a big-screen motion picture. In an attempt to capitalize on the buzz coming from the film, TDK Mediactive has released a video game version of Pirates of the Caribbean. Surprisingly, it has nothing to do whatsoever with the recent movie other than having characters with the same names. Worst of all, the game is inadequate and tedious--22 levels of mindless button mashing that will come as a major letdown to anyone who grabs it hoping to relive any portion of the film.
TDK's Pirates of the Caribbean plays like an action game but has a graphical perspective more in line with role-playing games such as Breath of Fire or The Legend of Zelda. Neither aspect of the combination works very well. The goal of most levels is to find a piece of treasure hidden in some area of a village or jungle. You do this by walking around until you find it. That's pretty much it. Jack, the character you play as, can jump and, in some spots, climb in order to reach tough areas, but these sequences are few and far between. If you grab the attention of another pirate, an animal, or a soldier, you'll automatically draw your sword and engage them in a swordfight. To win, all you have to do is mash the A button repeatedly until your opponent drops. The collision detection isn't great, so there are times when you'll swing right through an opponent. If you do get hurt or need another weapon, most levels have health potions and weapons sitting around somewhere.
Every two or three levels, you'll get the opportunity to sail a pirate ship to another island. Along the way, you can launch cannon balls at other ships and take treasure from barrels floating in the water. The combat is slightly more exciting than what you'll find on land, since you actually have to aim the cannon and figure out how much power to put into your shots.
Playing the game is a dull experience, and watching it is just as draining. There's almost no color variety, and the four basic environmental tilesets look lifeless. It's bad enough that the architecture of the various shops and caves is simplistic, but there also isn't any movement in the environment except for a few pedestrians and enemies milling around. The sailing levels don't seem nearly as dead as the land-based levels, thanks mostly to the presence of a few floating barrels and a visual effect used to show the motion of the waves.
The best aspect of Pirates of the Caribbean is its audio, which isn't saying much. Some of the background music is legitimately eerie. What few sound effects there are happen to be fairly crisp, although it's horrifying to hear crabs screaming like men each time you kill them.
Mercifully, the game takes only a couple of hours to finish. After that, the only replay option is to run through it again in an attempt to get more gold and better weapons. There aren't any hidden stages, bonus play modes, or multiplayer features, and your progress is saved with a password handed out at the completion of each level. Simply put, the bare minimum has been put into Pirates of the Caribbean.