The World of Pockie Pirates
Pockie Pirates is a browser based side-scroller RPG developed by Ngame, published by Game321 and released last June 21, 2012. To put this review in proper context, I would first like to say that I am a One Piece fan. That is the main reason why I was itching to try Pockie Pirates out. Although they claim to be an officially recognized game on their site, I have not found any information about the author endorsing it anywhere. This little factoid made playing the game a bit worrisome for me. I came across some more issues you have to know about before you try this game, so let me enlighten you a bit in my Pockie Pirates review.
One Piece - Your journey on the Grand Line
You begin your adventure as another wide-eyed would-be adventurer in your hometown as it is brutally attacked by pirates. You take it upon yourself to fight them off and in the process; you get to meet Luffy D. Monkey. As the game prides itself in being based upon the anime and manga by Eiichiro Oda, you yourself turn into one of Luffy’s rivals as you set-out for the legendary treasure “One Piece.” And that’s basically it. The backstory for this game borrows heavily from what was established in the series so your character actually progresses along the same storyline that Luffy did. It works well for fans but can get confusing if you’re unfamiliar with the universe you’re playing in. The graphics are mostly at par with the current flux of browser based games and the background music is forgettable. The game interface is straightforward and simple but the character designs clashes with the art style of the original One Piece characters. They don’t mesh well in my opinion.
There are four classes to choose from: Sniper (high damagers), Doctor (supporting healers), Navigator (magic users) and Swordsman (defensive tanks). Each class starts with one passive skill and two active ones. The only trouble with the system is that the skills are randomly generated per class. The active ones aren’t exactly “active” either. The game randomly determines when the skills themselves will activate. Which is a real hassle considering that Pockie Pirates is basically all about team management.
Your crew is your life. After the game starts for you, you just keep clicking through dialogue and fight your way. The fights are also automatic mostly. Your victory is dependent on your crew’s overall strength and configuration. Just like in One Piece, you get to put your own team together. Members can be recruited in the Tavern, but be warned though, even recruitment is random. Every visit shows you five characters shuffled and placed face down for you to choose from. You also get the opportunity to recruit special characters hailing from the cast of One Piece itself. These characters showcase additional abilities that go beyond the normal classes and have higher stats that scale in growth. If you want to break the game, you don't need much by way of powerful equipment - you just need powerful friends.
You can have up to 9 members but as with all games it still follows a certain scale. You have to reach higher levels to recruit more people and you have to upgrade your ship to unlock character slots. Upgrading your ship requires in-game currency – for Pockie Pirates its silver. Building up your team and your ship will be quite expensive. Both of them require an almost insane amount of silver for beginners. It’s very daunting. Your team gets permanent stat boosts each time you upgrade your ship so if you plan to play for a long time, you will need to invest in this game. Your characters have 6 slots for equipment. Besides leveling-up, tweaking and equipping your people with the best items is basically the only way to ensure that the auto team battles go smoothly. You can fix up your team’s weapon (damage), hat (hp), cloak (magic defense), shoes (speed), armor (physical defense) and ring (review what these are for) slots via upgrades.
Giving your characters items with higher stats definitely guarantee an edge in this game but each upgrade will cost you. It also has a cooldown so you will have to be patient about building your team. These items help? But the special characters are a better and easier investment considering their access to unique abilities which cannot be acquired by other means in the game. There’s also the added difficulty of acquiring the items first – Pockie Pirates only gives certain items when you finish specific battles. And they aren’t even guaranteed drops. So far it kinda creates the impression in me that buying from the shop is the only way to get ahead in this game.
Like in most free to play MMO games, your game time is limited by energy points. You get around 100 points to spend , one battle costs 1 point and the recovery period for a point is 30 minutes. Each battle nets you silver, experience and prestige. Silver is currency, experience is pretty self-explanatory and prestige is used to buy more upgrades for the team’s stats. The battles are mostly random. Completing world map missions unlock rewards in the game – pretty standard fare – but they are few and far in between. Daily missions are abound but you need fellow players to complete them. So unless you have a lot of friends playing Pockie Pirates, you’ll be forced to pay for them in gold (the game currency which you have to purchase from the store). They mostly offer extra silver, experience and prestige and some items that are inaccessible otherwise but it’s not really necessary to get them to continue on with the game.
Poor pirates indeed
Pockie Pirates is another freemium game. You can play it for free or purchase items in the in-game store. This is one of the biggest challenges the game has to offer any possible player though. The game has a lot of overpriced items. Even for one-time power ups. The costs range from $5.00 to as high as $60.00 - what I'm saying here basically is that the game's overall quality and gameplay experience does not necessitate such prices. I think it would even help turn the game around if they lowered the prices of the shop items to more appropriate levels. But then again, we are aware that these types of MMOs thrive on being "pay-to-win", the only question is - to win over who and what exactly?
An empty world?
To be fair, I encountered this same phenomenon in another browser-based MMO. I won't name it here but it was also filled with supposed PCs standing around in town, doing and saying, nothing. That is odd in any game and is enough to fill you with the suspicion that they're filling up the empty space with bots. The other game had dubious randomly generated names as well. Here though, what makes the silence mortifying is that everybody looks the same.
Pockie Pirates’ main draw is its connection to One Piece. Other than that, it still feels like a generic gaming experience. The automation of the battles and the forced linear progression make it seem more like a chore than an actual game. But I may just be looking for more out of a browser-based game than I have any right to. The skills when they get activated look nice and the novelty of creating and customizing your own team is always a big plus. If you’re the type to get hooked on games that are heavily reliant on stats and probability (the rate of skill activations for specific characters really) then Pockie Pirates might not be such a bad choice for you. If you’re looking for depth and a fairly higher level of interactivity from your games then Pockie Pirates falls short. For this reviewer though, I’m good with my initial run of the game. Till next time. Cheers!