Lil’ Pirates is a new freemium title created from a partnership between Capcom and IUGO. With similarities to games such as FarmVille, Lil’ Pirates fits snugly into the genre of social gaming. Set on the high seas, your job is to travel the globe, battling other pirates and plundering their treasure.

The majority of gameplay in this title revolves around completing numerous jobs, such as laying ambushes and repelling rival pirates. Jobs are currently scattered over eight areas of a globe and are unlocked automatically as you gain fame and level up your crew. They take varying lengths of time to finish but can be rushed to completion using the games premium currency, Doubloons. Crew members can be recruited in a number of ways, most notably Facebook, to reap associated benefits such as the sending and receiving of gifts. Upon completion of a job your crew faces a state known as downtime which prevents them from participating in any further tasks. Downtime can be expelled by giving your crew members a Root Beer or by playing (and winning) one of the in-built mini-games such as rock-paper-scissors. Although you can buy Root Beer for real cash, you are periodically rewarded it in generous amounts which is a surprisingly nice touch for a game that takes advantage of the freemium model.

Upon successfully completing a job you will be rewarded with a number of silver coins which can be spent customizing your crew members and your ship. Customization of your ship is essential if you wish to survive the deadly seas and their fierce battles. As you have little control over a battle, except for the ability to deploy smoke screens and instant repairs, your ship must be filled to the hilt with cannons.

Now this wouldn’t be a game about pirates if it didn’t involve buried treasure in some way shape or form. You wont be disappointed to hear then, that jewels and other artifacts found throughout your adventures can be buried to progressively raise their value. The developers have done really well to incorporate social aspects into this game and it really stands out in this respect. Your buried treasure can be stolen by your (so called) friends and sold to fund their own piratey enterprises. This means you always have to calculate whether the rewards outweigh the risk which adds an extra fun element to the game. The graphical style found in Lil’ Pirates is colorful and cartoonish which should stand out on newer devices, as it supports the Retina Display.

Since the game’s launch, players have been experiencing numerous server issues and unfortunate down-time. These problems are being actively addressed and will hopefully subside over time. As I’ve only been playing casually this hasn’t actually affected me greatly and I’m yet to encounter the crashing issues that many people are reporting. In-fact, I haven’t found a single major complaint whilst playing through this game meaning I’m left with only a few minor gripes.

Customizing your crew and their ship is definitely one of the more fun aspects of this game and there is a wide array of objects to do so. Although many of these items can be bought for silver coins earned within the game, a large portion must be purchased using Gold Doubloons. Not only do the majority of desirable customizations cost this premium currency, they are also set at very high costs. My final problem, which is replicated by most games of this nature, is waiting. After sending your crew on a mission, there is little else to do and it pretty much renders the game unplayable for the remainder of the task at hand. You can still send gifts, bury treasure and take part in battles, but even these can only be done after a certain time has elapsed and the game offers no real pull for the duration.

In Conclusion

Lil’ Pirates packs lots of appeal and stands out from normal, rehashed additions to this genre because of its unique theme. Like most freemium titles you’ll find on iOS devices, purchasing premium content isn’t necessary, but you won’t get very far, very fast if you don’t. IUGO has stated that they are committed to a number of updates including more content, more maps and tweaks to current features and gameplay. Capcom has also stated that they plan on adding Game Center to Lil’ Pirates in the future, so hopefully that inclusion will see achievements added to the mix. Current fans of social games will love this outing and it’s a great entry point for newcomers to test the water (no pun intended).