Our favorite Pirates of the Caribbean have landed on the 3DS -- in LEGO style.
Could this portable version be just as fun as the console counterparts? Come find out...
Disney Interactive Studios and Tt Games has taken their really good LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean and shrunk it down to 3DS size. The translation, while certainly commendable and impressive, equals out to be a simplified version of a better game. While you get a very nice touch screen on the 3DS, which makes a lot of things easier (like performing tasks when not directly lined up with an object), you lose a lot. For example, because of the limitation of the cartridge you may lose a mission here or there in one of the movies. The scene where Jack and Elizabeth are stranded on the remote island together, which exists in the PS3/360 versions of the game, is completely cut from the 3DS version. While I certainly understand there just isn't enough room to fit all that fun, it does make for a missing piece in the game. You'll find several instances like this in the 3DS version of the game. You'll find spots where the game has been modified to make the mission quicker or spots where the graphic capability of the device just couldn't produce the same amount of depth (such as the fight between the Black Pearl and the British ship at the beginning). There's just so much that was cut or modified that the game becomes different. Is that bad? Well, yes and no.
Starting off with the positives...
The game is made better by these 3DS adjustments because it becomes a quicker experience. What took me nearly two hours to beat in the first game (namely the first story) will only take me less than an hour to beat in the 3DS version. The action flows much faster and you certainly feel a bit more accomplished as the game moves along. For a young kid this might be a very encouraging type of gameplay, as this game is geared towards the younger folks to begin with. This fast gameplay will feed the 'quickly move on to the next thing' generation, which is a great thing.
Now to the bad...
One thing I have never liked about LEGO games is the 'collection' part of it. I feel like this slows the entire game down when you're trying to relive a movie's magic. While I understand the importance and addiction of collecting the LEGO studs in the game, I don't want that to be the 'thing' to make the game move or expand. One of the great things about the LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean: The Video Game on the bigger consoles is that it had a lot more action in it; or at least that is what it felt like. Because of the size of the levels and the constant action (like the battle ship battles in the first film) it didn't feel like a 'collection' game. The 3DS version of this game has a lot of collection of studs moments, which seems to weigh down the flow of gameplay. I think it's a blast to customize things, but I want action first. Again, the 3DS version didn't have as much action involved as the other editions contained.
With all that said, the game still has some good depth to it. It still has all four movies and it does its very best to keep them intact. For example, in the Dead Man's Chest story the folks at Tt Games kept the bone cage gameplay intact. They had to shorten it a bit, but I was impressed they kept it. There's still a lot of personality in the stories and, again, they are nearly fully there.
Shifting gears a bit, what about the controls and the 3D portion of the game? The controls, like I said above, are a bit easier to contend with in the 3DS version of the game. The bottom screen allows you to quickly choose actions, which is so much easier than the actual consoles. Getting Jack or Will to reach something and then 'do' something with it was a task on the console version. In the 3DS version you simply move your character in the range of the device and press the bottom screen in the middle when you want to do an action; it is more simplistic and forgiving.
As for the 3D portion of this 3DS game, it's not bad. The cutscenes are dreadfully dull when it comes to 3D, but the gameplay has its moments. The best part of the 3D is the floating studs. The studs truly do float above the screen when they fly into your inventory. Beyond that there are moments here and there that work well in 3D, but it's certainly not as impressive (or in depth) as say a Super Street Fighter IV. I do have to admit that viewing this 3D game made my eyes hurt about an hour or so into it. I know there is a warning for this at the beginning of the game, but this was the first 3DS game which made me want to turn it back to 2D occasionally. I might be a rare bird for this issue, but it happened often for me.
Anyway, so is this game fun? Compared to its console counterparts I think it comes in just under them. I think the bigger brothers offer more action than this version of the game. I think the modifications made (or complete cuts) turn this game from action to slightly more collection oriented. I fully understand that this game is geared towards a younger, less hardcore gamer, but those same gamers might have a better experience with a 360, PS3 or Wii version of the game. What is sort of a backbreaker for this title is the price. Costing $39.99, the game is the same price as the console versions (according to Amazon.com). Outside portability and 3D effect, there isn't an advantage in purchasing the 3DS version of the game. That decision is ultimately up to you, but for me I would just stick to the better, bigger console version of LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean.
Anyway, onto the summary!