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Pirates: Duels on the High Seas on DS, like the equivalent WiiWare title, offers an old style action adventure game with a popular pirates theme.
Action adventure games are enjoyed for two reasons. They provide a variety of fast action encounters where you are fighting, fleeing or evading some enemy. They also provide a large world in which to explore and adventure. This exploration is usually driven by some particular plot-tension introduced early in the game that you must resolve.
As you adventure through the world, you encounter the action sequences through encounters with enemies and general hazards. Success in these encounters opens up more of the world to explore and provide new equipment.
Pirates offers a simple action game that draws in the manoeuvring battles resulting from large pirate ships. Whereas similar action games grant the player responsive controls and free movement, Pirates limits both the turning circle and speed to replicate the old pirate ships in which you fight.
These controls and the simple target oriented levels combine to create some great tactical battles as you try and out manoeuvre other ships to point your side-cannons at them without tacking shot yourself.
Pirates have long provided source material for various video games. Although this game could have existed in various guises, it manages to convincingly incorporate the art of sailing large ships into battle. When you encounter an enemy and manage to sink them without taking damage yourself, there is s smug satisfaction.
Intelligently for a game of this nature, the levels are kept of a consistent size and duration. The majority can be completed within ten minutes or so. Something that works well and often results in multiple levels being played in one sitting.
Because of the accurate steering required, very young players will struggle to progress past the first level. Those with a little more sailing knowledge will enjoy the tactical side of the various encounters.
Intermediate players will find Pirates to be an enjoyable distraction, although there is not a lot past the simple controls and streamlined levels to get you teeth into.
Experts may well not find enough here to keep them amused. They are likely to get more from the tactical pursuits of Sid Meiers pirates - although this is currently only available on the PSP.
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