Pirates of Dark Water


Review by Matt Paprocki



Graphics: 8

Sound: 4

Gameplay: 7

Overall: 6


On a console filled with accurate arcade ports and original beat-em-ups, it’s hard to see Pirates of Dark Water pushed to the wayside despite its solid mechanics. Unfortunately, if you’re going to spend an hour bashing palette swapped characters into submission, there are at least 10 other options available. This licensed effort doesn’t offer enough to push it forward into a list of the console’s best.

Based off an animated series which ran for three years in the early ‘90s, Dark Water offers a selection of three heroes, and the critical two player co-op option. In typical beat-em-up form, players progress a few screens before being stopped by an assault of enemies. Three attack buttons offer the effective standard combo, a strong slash, and a special move.

Not one for variety, the title wears itself out in the first few levels. The complete roster of enemies is introduced early, leaving the game lacking any freshness in later stages. The grinding, scratchy soundtrack sounds familiar on nearly every encounter and doesn’t differentiate itself between challenges.

Completely different from the platforming action of it’s Genesis counterpart, this edition of Dark Water presents a myriad of generic challenges in attempt to keep the action interesting. Falling rocks, indicated by the always popular shadows, require the player to deftly move between them. Another favorite 16-bit era trap, the recurring floor trap (in this case, fire and spikes) feel like nothing more that life drainers.

Enemy AI is routine, and at times blatantly stupid. It repeatedly runs into the traps until the life bar is zapped clean. Of course, it’s hard to expect deep intelligence when their parents named them “Tall Pirate” and “Large Pirate.” A particularly ingenious one is named “Woman Pirate,” in case the player couldn’t figure that out on their own.

Of course, all of the above is par for the course when it comes to beat-em-ups. Its core mechanics are solid, with excellent collision and satisfactory punches. Animation and graphical detail is high. If it wasn’t stuck inside such a slapped together, by the numbers frame, Dark Water could have been a break out minor classic. Sadly, it’s a cursed licensed effort that doesn’t do anything to provide genre fans with something to remember.


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Last updated: Thursday, August 23, 2007 12:30 AM