Match Three Pirates! II – Review
Follow Genre: Puzzle game
Developer: Big Fish Games
Publisher: Denda Games
Platform: PC, Switch
Tested on: Switch

Match Three Pirates! II – Review

Site Score
Good: Interesting twist on a tried and true gameplay formula
Bad: Power-up mechanics aren't explained thoroughly enough
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Match Three Pirates! II, the subject of today’s review, was already fighting an uphill battle before we even started playing it. Since developer Big Fish Games didn’t even bother to come up with a more creative title than simply Match Three Pirates! II, our expectations weren’t exactly very high. More often than not, if a developer doesn’t put in the effort to try and appeal to players by giving their game an imaginative title, then that same lack of effort is reflected in the overall gameplay experience as well. Nevertheless, we took the game for a spin. Is Match Three Pirates! II a hidden treasure, or a piece of shovelware that should walk the plank?


We were pleasantly surprised to see that Big Fish Games actually put some effort into adding a narrative to Match Three Pirates! II. The story, which we assume builds upon the foundation laid in the first Match Three Pirates! game, revolves around Bobby, a young boy who has befriended a pirate crew. Through short dialogue scenes, which play in-between the various levels of the game, we follow Bobby and his friends as they build a pirate-themed amusement park. The game doesn’t really dig into the events of the first game, nor does it explain how the pirates ended up in modern times. Not that that matters, as the story serves as little more than a framework, that doesn’t really tie into the gameplay. It’s serviceable but ultimately forgettable.


Being a puzzle game, Match Three Pirates! II isn’t exactly a visual powerhouse, but it doesn’t need to be either. The hand-drawn art style is appealing, with fun character designs during the story scenes and easily discernible icons in the puzzle levels. The visuals are clean, and given the simplicity of the game, performance isn’t an issue either.


While Match Three Pirates! II doesn’t boast an impressive -or even memorable- soundscape, there isn’t anything wrong with it either. The game’s music is as generic as it gets: just try to think what pirate-themed music sounds like and whatever pops up in your mind is going to sound pretty close to what Match Three Pirates! II serves up. We’re happy to say that the game at least serves up more than one tune though, rather than playing the same track over and over again. There is no voice acting and sound effects are limited, so if you decide to turn off the sound, you’re not missing out on much in the end.


We assumed that Match Three Pirates! II would be a typical match 3 puzzle title, but as it turned out, the game strays away from the classic formula quite a bit. You’ll still be swapping icons around to match them into rows of three or more to make them disappear, of course. Unlike your typical match 3 game, however, Match Three Pirates! II does not revolve around racking up combos and beating the high score. Instead, the levels are objective based: you’ll be tasked with clearing specific objects from the board, such as pirate heads or treasure chests, or you’ll need to get rid of a specific number of the same icon. Add to this that there are objects that cannot be moved or removed, irregular board shapes, and monkeys that throw a wrench in your strategy, and you’re looking at a match 3 game that is unlike any we’ve played before.

It’s a risky move to stray too far from the core principles of a genre, but thankfully for Big Fish Games the choices they made work, for the most part. Match 3 aficionados will find themselves having to rethink usual strategies rather than simply scout the board for whichever combo nets them the most points. You’re still rewarded for doing so, however. If you’re able to create a combo of four or more icons, you’re rewarded with an upgraded icon that gives you a small boost when you can work it into a matching row. The impact of these upgraded icons is rarely significant but the boost they give is just enough incentive to work towards them anyway.

Rather than earning points that will earn you a top place on a leaderboard, Match Three Pirates! II rewards players with in-game currency. This can then subsequently be spent on new attractions for the pirate theme park the story is constructed around. These attractions unlock power-ups which you can use in the game’s levels -though you’ll need to spend some of your currency every time you want to use them. Bonus currency can be earned by matching icons that have a gold coin next to them. The game is pretty generous with cash, as we were often able to buy more than one new attraction after clearing a level.

Admittedly, some of the game’s core design choices didn’t gel with us. After completing a level, you’re rewarded with 1-3 skulls based on how you did, but the game never explains how your rating is determined. You’re also unable to retry a stage for a better score (or to grind additional coins) while you’re still playing through the story. Match Three Pirates! II never explains how its power ups work either- we’ve spent several hours playing the game and we’re still not sure about how to use some of them. As a result, actually spending coins to buy these seemed like it was simply not worth it. The final, and perhaps biggest flaw with Match Three Pirates! II was that the game sometimes felt ridiculously slow. It’s incredibly difficult to set up a meaningful combo, so it’s rare to see a mass of icons disappear, and more often than not, you’ll simply get rid of a row of three icons because there are no other options. You’re unable to swap icons unless they’re directly next to each other horizontally or vertically, which limits your move options by quite a bit.

Obtuse design choices aside, Match Three Pirates! II provides fans of the genre with a decent take on the genre. There is plenty of replayability here, as there is not just the incentive to obtain three skulls on every stage, but also a variety of more challenging difficulty levels. These limit the number of moves you can make on a stage, for example, or give you a time limit to clear a stage. While these additional challenges can make the game more interesting for die hard puzzle fans, we actually enjoyed the relaxing pace where we didn’t have to worry about moves or time limits. Match Three Pirates! II is one of those games that is great to play in handheld mode while you’re actually doing something else and need to kill time for a few minutes.


We were half expecting a quickly slapped together match 3 clone with a pirate theme, but now that we’ve actually spent some time with Match Three Pirates! II, we’ll happily admit that more effort was put into the game than the title indicated. The game isn’t without its flaws, but despite these, you’re still getting a decent variant on a tried and true puzzle classic. Match Three Pirates! II is by no means an essential addition to your library, but there is no harm in picking it up either.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 5.0/10 (1 vote cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
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Match Three Pirates! II - Review, 5.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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