Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest (Nintendo DS) Review

By John Boyle 25.07.2006

Why do people still try and make sequels to films? Don't they know the film sequel was perfected in 1974 when Francis Ford Coppola and Mario Puzo wrote the Godfather Part 2 and made every sequel attempt prior to and afterwards an exercise in futility? The same could be said for the whole film to game tie in genre that has been in gaming ever since they dug holes in the desert for E.T to spend the rest of his days in. Thinking back there seem to be two examples of good film game tie-ins, Goldeneye and Chronicles of Riddick... and even they have their flaws. So the combination of a film sequel and a film tie-in doesn't bode well for "Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest", but can this be the game that breaks the mould and gives the DS a film tie-in to be proud of? Let's find out...

The urge is to completely slam this game. It makes little use of the DS features, has several large faults, is crushingly boring and manages to be devoid of the humour and family fun of the film. However that would be a mistake as PoTC: DMC does have a few interesting aspects to it. True none of them make it worth purchasing however it'd be a terrible shame if the plus points slipped away to the bargain bin with this game.

So, for starters you should all know that this film tie-in IS NOT a bland collect 'em up action-adventure. Shocking, isn't it? Well PoTC: DMC has clearly modelled itself on Double Dragon and delivers a brand new side-scrolling beat em up. Which is a good thing (such a classic genre shouldn't die), and the game certainly isn't devoid of interest to begin with. The main adventure is split into very large levels with lots of combat, each level being playable by either Jack, Will or Elizabeth. Each character has their own style of fighting, their own "special combo" and (of course) will uncover their own segment of the storyline. Combat is very easy, Y is your sword attack, B kicks (you will never use this); X jumps (only for puzzles really) and A is to interact with your surroundings. Interaction is one of the better parts of the game, you see apart from puzzle solving you can occasionally make use of your surroundings to help combat. Too many enemies to deal with, well press A next to a cannon and watch them die far quicker...unfortunately this feature isn't used as often as it should do but it's still a nice addition. Also, the reality is that you won't need to use anything to help you with combat...

Screenshot for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on Nintendo DS

Pirates of the Caribbean and its sequel fall into the dreaded bracket "family film". This essentially means that the subject matter will not challenge the status quo so everyone can turn their brains off and watch it. Alas the game in question also seems reluctant to challenge you in any way shape or form, as it is simply one of the easiest games to hit the DS. No real tactics needed for regular fighting or boss fights. Just press Y. Again...and again...and again. Slash slash slash slash slashety slash.

There are weapon pick-ups but they vanish from your hands with time and what is the point of using them when the default cutlass is so effective at slashing away at the waves of enemies that come your way. They do throw huge amounts of enemies your way, however this is also an exercise in futility, as it seems that evildoers only attack one at a time. So it could be one enemy you fifty thousand. They'd still line up and attack one at a time like some strange pirate dance-off. This seriously affects the rest of the game because, whilst the developers put in varied levels with good level design and a healthy lifespan, it still means you can 100% this in one night if you can withstand the boredom of sitting for an evening pressing Y and occasionally moving to the next checkpoint. You could play it in co-op... but you need two carts and they don't increase the enemy count so it makes the game even easier.

Screenshot for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on Nintendo DS

In the main game the bottom screen shows the amount of gold you have (which is used to unlock new characters and concept art) amongst one or two other pointless pieces of information (current weapon being one of them). If you want touch screen functionality then you have to head to the mini games. There are three mini games...and none of them manage to inspire the gamer. "Walk the Plank" is essentially Simon Says. However occasionally the touch screen can fail leaving you thinking you pressed blue but actually you didn't, even if you didn't though it's fine. The game is so forgiving that you can mess up 5-6 times and get away with it. Isn't that nice of the game? "Shoot the Monkey" has Jack the Monkey terrorising the crew again, so Captain Jack and Gibbs have a shooting contest with it as the target. It will pop out along with a few crewmen and you have to shoot it and not the crewmen before your opponent does. In single player this is so easy you'd think Gibbs had a blindfold on and that his gun wasn't loaded.

Boom Barge is different and yet again shows that this developer actually has some brain cells. You have two ships facing each other and no ammo. There are a few boxes between you that are full of gunpowder. So using the touch screen aim at the boxes and fair miscellaneous items at them to force the box towards the opponents ship. Once the box hits the ship BOOM! Unfortunately again in single-player this is pretty easy, but in multiplayer it takes on a whole new frantic edge. Not enough of an edge to warrant buying the game but an edge nonetheless.

Screenshot for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on Nintendo DS

Graphically this game is decent, nothing spectacular but certainly a solid effort at 3d gaming on the DS. The backgrounds are detailed as are the weapons and attack animation is reasonably impressive. However there is the problem of the gamer losing concentration when playing as he chuckles at the running animations the developers inflicted bestowed upon the characters. They don't run per-se, it's more a series of lunges, which gives the illusion of pace but doesn't actually give them any speed advantage. The character models are also quite lacklustre with a lack of colour and detail making them look like poor first gen PSone efforts. The DS is capable of more, and is especially capable of more in the sound department. There is no voice acting (which is forgivable) however the music seems to consist of moody 1-minute tracks on a loop. The volume will be put down low within 5 minutes of playing as you hear yet another descending scale denoting terror that you will hear in another minute. The voice samples you hear when attacking are also incredibly annoying and repeated far too much. This reviewer will seriously contemplate jumping off the nearest bridge if he hears Captain Jack saying, " Rest in Piece!" once more. Same goes for the enemies with classic pre-set henchmen phrases. "Who's that?" "You won't pass me!" "Get him/her!"... they can get tiresome after an evening of playing.

The developers at Amaze Entertainment clearly have some skill and innovation about them. There are enough small touches in this game to make that evident. However they have really let themselves down with this game that is on the wrong side of average. Whilst it isn't an abomination to gaming the repetitive nature of the gameplay is mind numbingly boring and makes what should be a long game to while away those Summer nights a game that can be finished in an evening. The unlockables are extremely easy to unlock (and not worth the effort when you do) and the mini games are dull with the exception of Boom Barge, which is good but too easy. Perhaps this is a reasonably close attempt to a summer blockbuster: devoid of intelligence, character and anything to separate it from the pack. In the film world PoTC 2 faces stiff competition from Superman this summer. In the gaming world Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest isn't good enough to be in competition with the likes of New Super Mario Bros this summer.

Screenshot for Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest on Nintendo DS

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 3 out of 10


Poor effort, but then again that's what most expected. Repetitive gameplay, lacklustre mini games and generally a forgettable entry to the DS gaming catalogue. Some good touches show that the developers actually know how to make a game, but it's swamped in the standard "insert a game here" mould of a movie tie-in. Best place your thirty notes somewhere else.




Buena Vista





C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  3/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   


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