Rusty Sabre

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The Quest: Cursed Chess Set for iPhone
The Corsair by PDAMill
Ahoy, mateys, it's time to set sail on the Corsair in search of the treasure of a lifetime. Such is the premise of The Corsair, PDAMill's sea-faring shoot-em-up. Fortunately the stylus makes the lack of some type of light gun okay, and the game is simply a blast to play.

The gameplay in The Corsair is pretty straightforward. The game is played over 5 "days", each day being divided into 3 levels. The first two levels of each day are divided into several scenes, and the last level of each day is a boss. In each scene the bad guys will pop out from behind the scenery, and all you have to do is shoot them (or slash them with your sword if they pop out right in front of you). To complicate matters, from time to time they will toss out explosives at you which will do extra damage if they explode before you can shoot them. Additionally, hostages will jump out on occasion. If you shoot them you will loose points from your total, and you will also lose some life if playing on the advanced difficulty settings. Finally, you only get six shots at a time before you have to reload. You can reload at any time by pressing the bottom bar on the screen, and I would suggest that get into the habit of reloading frequently. It will make your job easier when the action gets frantic. On the boss screens you only have one enemy to contend with, but you have to hit them multiple times, and they generally attack much faster than the bad guys in the normal levels.

To help you in your battle against the pirates, natives and other things that go bump in the night, all you need is quick reflexes and your stylus. The entire game is stylus driven, which works perfectly on touch screen PDAs. Of course, there are a couple of in-game items to help you out as well. Every once in a while a package with a red cross comes flying trough the air, and if you shoot it you will gain some health back. Also, if you can shoot the explosives before they go off on their own, the resulting explosion will defeat the enemies on the screen instead of doing damage to you. There is a shield that appears randomly as well, but I haven't figured out what that does yet. If you can preserve through each of the scenes, your life and ammunition is refilled when you transition to the next scene - if you are playing on the Easy level.

The main thing that bothered me about The Corsair was the length of the game, or lack thereof. I realize there are three difficultly levels to the game, but without knowing that there's any benefit to playing the more challenging levels - like hidden levels or alternate endings - there's no real desire on my part to pursue them. For someone of my skill level Easy was just right, so now that I've beaten that skill level I'm pretty much done with the game. I also thought it was a shame that 3 out of 5 days take place aboard the ship, so there's not much of a variety in locales. I understand that the bad guys are different, but even that's not entirely true, which you'll understand when you play the game. Still, it is the kind of game that's easy enough to get into that playing it for a few minutes here and there even once you've beaten it is a likely scenario. And who knows, maybe one of these days I'll brave the harder difficulty levels.

Graphically, The Corsair adheres to the standards set by other PDAMill games. The overall design of the game is quite consistent and professional. The backgrounds are colorful and detailed, and the character renderings are varied and fit right into the atmosphere of the game. The reactions of the hostages if you accidentally shoot them are particularly amusing.

While the sound effects can get a bit repetitive at times, everything is right on target. From the groans of various bad guys being shot to the explosion of a missed bomb, it all plays together to create the rich audio world of high seas plights and perils that you'd expect. Even the rolling waves and howling winds played during the menu are very well done. The music is good too, but chances are you won't be paying much attention to that as you're frantically trying to blow away pirates and other villains. However, it's nice to have something other than dead silence in the background.

As expected, The Corsair is another quality title from PDAMill. The audio and video elements all mesh together to provide a wonderful atmosphere, and the gameplay is fast and furious. Aside from the relatively short nature of the game, there's little not to like here. If you have serious hand-eye coordination issues then this might not be the game for you, but everyone else should seriously consider setting sail aboard this danger-packed ship.

Overall Score: 8/10

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