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REVIEW | “Scurvy Scallywags” Familiar, But Fun Overall

Posted on June 6, 2013 AT 09:39am

Ron Gilbert has given us enough joyful games to last us a lifetime, whether it’s the adventures of Guybrush Threepwood in the Monkey Island series or taking three unique individuals on a trip down to The Cave. This month he brings his talents back to the seas with his latest title: Scurvy Scallywags. But can Gilbert take a game that feels a bit too familiar and give it a well-needed new coat of paint?

Scurvy Scallywags is an adventure within a play within a video game. You take your pirate across the dark waters on the search for the missing verses of the Ultimate Sea Shanty. Along the way you need to come across various islands to take on skeletons, beasts, and eviler pirates who wish to stop you at your tracks. To fight them you must, um, do a puzzle game each time where you match three of each object.

If you feel like you’ve played this before, you’re not alone. After spending many lost hours playing a certain Facebook game that won’t be named I felt hesitant about dropping into Scurvy Scallywags. Soon after I started getting into it the fears about being sucked in to another time vampire quietly fluttered away, as there were many unique points that helped make it stand out from that other game.

For one thing your pirate is dropped in the middle of the maze, and will move with the pieces that disappear once matching at least three of each. Your enemies will also appear in the game, and if you and they find themselves next to one another you will be forced to either fight against one another or hightail it out of there. An RPG element of the game will keep your character from winning against the enemy at first glance, as you need to collect enough sword strikes before taking them down. If not you lost one of your three hearts.

To collect sword strikes you’ll need to match at least three glowing swords to earn one strike, which considering there are a few other items that are in the puzzle with you can be quite tricky. Fortunately you can earn coins throughout each level that can be put towards upgrades like free swapping, double-jumping, a pistol shot to bring down an enemy’s strike count, and even some magic that can change many of the items into either gold or swords.

However it’s best to be careful with your spending, as if you die you may need some coin to jump back to life. Otherwise — and I found this one out the hard way — you will be forced to go all the way back to the beginning of the game and your character will be dropped back down to a Level One pirate. The bright side of this is you can still keep your gold and upgrades from your previous play-through, but everyone knows it can be quite the pain to have to go through everything over again.

What also sets Scurvy Scallywags from its will-not-be-named counterpart is its sense of humor. Your enemy pirate is a washed-up actor who’s tired of losing night after night, so he tries to make it harder for your pirate to be victorious by putting these obstacles in your way. The dialogue is quite cheeky, and the fourth-wall-breaking tasks you sometimes have to do (collect ticket stubs, find lose stage parts) add to the silliness that we’ve come to know Ron Gilbert for.

Scurvy Scallywags is hours of fun, and it can get quite addicting not just because of its gameplay, but also for its colorful personality. You can always return to the game after you beat it to earn new costumes, power-ups, weapons, and ships for your maiden voyage.


  • Hilarious at times
  • Cool RPG elements
  • Sea Shanties are quite original


  • May feel like deja vu for some
  • Dying will have you start from square one


Scurvy Scallywags is a lot more fun than I initially gave it credit for. Thanks to its wonderful humor and cool little RPG elements this game has more going for it than what the $1.99 price point may have led you believe. One thing’s for certain: while it may not be a perfect title Ron Gilbert has found a way to make Scurvy Scallywags the best three-match puzzler out there to date; or, in a sense, it’s the least evil of them out there.

FINAL GRADE: 8.2 (out of ten)

iOS review copy provided by Emily Morganti, on behalf of Beep Games, Inc.

Evan Bourgault is an accomplished music, anime, and video game critic. His passion for discovering new bands, developers, and Japanese pop culture began in his college radio days and continues on today. Evan joined the ElectricSistaHood team in 2008, where he is a contributing editor and host of one of the network's weekly podcasts. Follow Evan on Twitter at

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