In Slant Six Games’ imaginative Max’s Pirate Planet your child gets to take on the role of a pirate, sailing (literally) around the globe in search of buried treasure. Your goal is to be the first to find and collect four treasure chests, each of which contains a piece of the map to find the Sunken City, where the dreaded Barnacle Bill awaits with countless riches for you to pilfer.
Players first start out the game by each selecting one of the five pirate characters, which range from a boy and girl to a skeleton pirate appropriately named Skully. This can sometimes be a point of contention in our household as there is sadly only one girl character in the game, and of course my girls usually fight over who gets to be her, even though there is also a cute shark, fox and the aforementioned skeleton characters to choose from as well. The girl pirate’s name is Emma, which just so happens to be the name of my older daughter’s best friend, so you can imagine…my daughters definitely wish there were more (girl) characters.
Once characters have been selected, the game beings. Max’s Pirate Planet is made for four players, but the nice thing is that it will automatically fill in AI players for you if you don’t have enough real players. In our experience, the AI players seemed to be fairly well-balanced, though I would probably say that they do tend to trend toward the easier side, blowing a few more than their fair share of duels and treasure challenges. However it seemed perfectly suited for the ages of my girls, just difficult enough to keep it fun.
The game board is globe-shaped and covered with hexagonal spaces over both land and water. On some of these spaces are treasure chests, others have either nothing or other special objects like cards and whirlpools. Players take turns spinning a (pretty realistic) wheel and moving the corresponding number of spaces around the game board. If you land on space with a card, then you will be presented with a choice of three cards and must select one. The actions on the cards vary and may allow to move a couple extra spaces or maybe even jump right to the nearest treasure. A whirlpool space will teleport you to another location on the board. Or maybe you’ll get luck and spin a number high enough to land on a space with a treasure chest.
However, your quest for gold wont be easy, for if you land on a treasure chest you must successfully complete a mini game to win the treasure. The challenges could consist of successfully dodging both a killer whale and ship debris for 15 seconds, or swiping away the tentacles of a giant octopus to be successful. There are about 4 or 5 different types of challenges and they are all pretty entertaining, but they can start to get a bit repetitive after a while. In fact, we had a few games where one player kept randomly getting the same exact challenge every single turn.
If you land on the same space as another player you will challenge him (or her) to a duel. The winner takes a treasure from the loser (assuming he/she has one). Duels consist of one of two different mini games. The first is a sword fight, which requires the player to be the first of the two combatants to swipe in the direction of the ever-changing arrow on screen. In the other, players are trying to fire cannons at their opponent and be the first to destroy all the hearts of the other player. The loser of the duel is also sent back to their starting space.
Once you’ve successfully found four treasure chests you are sent to Sunken Island to face Barnacle Bill, where you you must try to defeat him in a cannon shootout. One really nice thing about the game is that the winner is never a foregone conclusion. The tides can shift at any time. The developers have done a really nice job in designing the game such that even when a player moves onto the final Buccaneer Bill stage of the game, the others playing (AI included) can still catch up, so it is not a given that the player who is currently ahead will win.
The game does skew more toward younger children, I’d say between 3 and 6 is probably the perfect age. More experienced kids can use some strategy to try to attack other players for their treasure, while younger kids will just have fun moving around and playing the mini games. My 3.5 year-old Claire (a big Jake and The Neverland Pirates fan) fell in love with the game right away and will often specifically requests that she and I play “The Pirate Game” together.
Emily, my six year-old doesn’t seem to like it as much as Claire, but she always has a smile when playing. Claire can’t quite do the mini games on her own and requires a good deal more parental assistance. The treasure challenges are a bit too easy for Emily (especially the tapping ones), whereas Claire enjoys having me help her complete them, even though they are “too tough for her”. Du to the 3D-is view if the game board, both kids do occasionally struggle with tapping the correct space when moving.
Max’s Pirate Planet’s cute cast of characters, mini games, graphics, animation and audio create a fun experience that will capture your child’s imagination and transport them into the world of pirates. Likely a bit too easy for older children this is an appealing and challenging digital board gaming adventure for younger gamers. Alone, with friends/siblings or as a fun parent/ hild bonding experience as you assist your little one, what kid doesn’t like to pretend to be a pirate? This game quickly became one of my younger daughter’s go to iPad games and it gets a good deal of playtime in our household.