Pirates are a dying breed. For many years, people believed them to be non-existent. Then, suddenly, off the shores of Indonesia, pirates reappeared. Causing mayhem, death and mischief to all who they encounter, this resurgence of something that was once considered deceased has caused pain and mayhem to various people around the world. In the past, pirates would simply just steal from any passing sea vessel, and in a lot of cases it would have been from the British Navy.
This is no different in the second part of Oxygen Games' latest franchise: Pirates. Pirates: The Key of Dreams is the WiiWare counterpart of the DS Pirates: Duel on the High Seas and they each have interconnecting storylines that will help explain the overall story to the player.
The famous Port Royal's governor has sent the player on a dangerous mission to find the "Key of Dreams" which is said to make its owner a master of battle. This becomes necessary as the number of pirates across the world has risen rapidly and it's time that they were culled a little. So that no one is aware of the top-secret mission, the player has been disguised as a pirate in a pirate ship. As a result, not only are there pirates to be fending off, but there's also the entire British Navy to deal with, as well.
There are only two modes of play in Key of Dreams: Single Player and Multiplayer. The Single Player mode will take the player through the story of the game and is where the majority of the action takes place. There's a three tier difficulty setting, and depending on the difficulty selected, the choice made with determine the size of the craft. The easy setting will allow access to the largest, quickest and strongest boat. Medium is exactly that and the hard setting will give the player the smallest, weakest and slowest vessel.
The gameplay in Single Player involves just sailing around the various ports and seas that the player finds themselves in and navigating their way out of the usual maze. This may sound a little dull, but the variety of enemies brightens things up a lot. There are many different smaller boats to destroy, and these are fairly easy to deal with. A few shots from the cannon and they have been sunk, often leaving behind a little bit of treasure. With the larger ships that are unfortunate enough to come across the player's path, they require a little more firepower but will sometimes leave behind a crew member. If a crew is left floating around, the player has the option of giving them a new home. This will make the ship better by some degree, be it speed, firepower or defence.
Then there are the watchtowers to destroy. Without the special weapons, these can take a long time to be rid of; fortunately, there are various special weapons like rockets, mines, flamethrowers and a few others. These are helpful, but ultimately it doesn't matter which the player may come across as they're all the same in strength, and there's usually lots of them, anyway.
There are ten different objectives throughout the Single Player mode, and each of them are pretty much the same. The entire point of the game is to get away from the enemy and find the Key of Dreams. Towards the end of the game, there's a big surprise and this boss will require a lot more thinking, and this really is the highlight of the Single Player game. The multiplayer mode is essentially a free-for-all. A melee of attacks from various CPU or human players for goals like control of the area, "balloons" and many other missions that make the multiplayer a brilliant experience.
The game is presented in a traditional "piratey" theme, with lots of "Arr" sound effects and with plenty of naval music. The graphics themselves are a little weak, but they look good for a game that's a top-down pirate game, especially as it's meant to tie in with the DS counterpart. The cut-scenes are brilliant; they have some very distinctive and individual artwork and are really top-notch. The music throughout the game is good and many of the tunes will burn their way into your skull, such as the completion of a level.
Final Verdict - 7/10
A short single-player mode makes the 1,000 Wii Points price tag a little on the high side, but the multi-player mode makes up for it. A solid start into what will hopefully be a long lasting franchise.