Lovefool 08.01.11 | Love on the High Seas

Lovefool ventures out on the high seas to check out the manga-style iPhone romance game Pirates in Love.


It’s a quietly passed-down family tradition that we, on my father’s side, are descended from pirates. Which isn’t necessarily true and certainly isn’t emphasized, but I’ve long believed I’m descended from a pirate’s brother. My grandfather, rest his soul, charted our family tree all the way back to Sir Francis Drake’s brother. Which is cool. I think it counts, right? I mean, sure, there were, like, twelve Drake sons, but one of those is my great great great times-a-million grandfather or something and that means that, supposedly, the same piratical blood that flowed through Sir Francis’ veins is flowing through mine. In fact, I might go so far as to say that I believe a bit more of it might flow through mine than previous generations.

I like the idea of old school pirates. I mean, what’s not to like? They sail around on boats drinking and getting up to mischief and occasionally, god willing, looking a little Jack Sparrow-like. I would hella get drunk with Jack Sparrow and he’d rob me blind and we might make out a little and then he’d screw me over somehow, but I could be like “Hey, I totally made out with a pirate and he stole my magical bracelet.” Because in this one, I also have a magical bracelet. And then I find my own pirate ship and track him down and get my magical bracelet back and he is totally amazed and then we join forces, briefly, and then part forever because he’s a jerk and I’m a pirate and pirates don’t need that noise.

I’m sure that being a pirate was a horrible life and that you ended up with scurvy or as shark bait but Voltage, a Japanese mobile content company, has made a pirate dating simulator more in line with my elaborate dreams of being a pirate. Released stateside on the iPhone last month by Digital Manga Publishing, it currently features four pirates that you can hook up with and two that are possibly locked or not available yet. The press release gives the breakdown on the hotties in bite-sized chunks of bio that made me grin.

Captain Morgan is the charismatic, womanizing leader of the Sirius Pirates.
Chef Nathan is quiet and boorish.
Doctor Christopher is kind, but a little spacey.
Swordsman Russell is hotheaded and passionate.
First mate Eduardo is cold-blooded and twisted.
Apprentice Thomas is determined and friendly.
And that about sums them up. First of all, the pirate captain is named Captain Morgan and is more than a little Jack Sparrow. No, go ahead and read the bit in italics again. I’m not making that up. I pulled that directly from a press release. Captain Morgan. But I digress. Thomas and the Captain are the unplayable chapters right now, but I’m hopeful that both of them will be released, since they seem interesting. Thomas seems a bit young for this sort of thing so he should have an interesting backstory, and Captain Morgan is funny and wise in a way that only pirates can be. However, at $3.99 a pop for each boy’s 16-chapter love story, Pirates in Love may be something I save as an occasional treat for myself, having been spoiled by paying a buck for Angry Birds, which goes on forever. Pirates in Love definitely has an ending and seems like it might have limited choices, alas. The prologue, in the grand tradition of Free Comic Book Day and drug dealers, is free. 
I named myself Evangeline, which seems appropriately piratical but is actually from a Matthew Sweet song, and ended up accidentally stowing away with the Sirius pirate crew after they rescued me from some handsy guys in the bar where I worked. This crew is serious business, you know. Discovered in what was supposedly a barrel of booze during the crew’s monthly full moon party, my character was “invited” to stay on board and room with one of the guys. I initially intended to play Eduardo but, due to some poor iTunes maneuvering, ended up playing Russell, the hotheaded, passionate fencer. Eduardo didn’t seem that twisted. He just seemed a little snarky. I’m a little snarky, right? Match made in heaven. But Russell eventually started to grow on me. For one, he looks a little Bowie-esque, yeah? Look at that chiseled face, that hair, those eyes! For a bit of graphic design, he’s pretty hot.
Russell, however, may be a bit of a creeper. Which is not only grand manga tradition, but also might kind of be Evangeline’s fault for being a little bit of a weenie and going along with his decision that they always need to be together so he can protect her. Sure, she’s able to do good work when it comes to cooking and swabbing the decks, but she doesn’t really get to do much swashbuckling. And, at this point, one of the game’s flaws gently floats to the surface. It feels like player participation is pretty limited in this game. Eventually, it’s okay, though, because the carrot always comes at just the right time to keep you going. Gameplay is in the form of prompts, asking you to make a decision. Do you sneak on shore with Russell? (Yes.) Do you tell him you love him? (You hedge.) Do you run at a guard checkpoint on an island where women are executed on sight or do you play dumb? (You play dumb.) Are you totally shocked when the game gets a little swear-y? (A little, at first, but then it seems kind of funny.) Do you get the happy ending or the super-happy ending? I, of course, got the super-happy ending. I have a funny feeling that we all get the super-happy ending.
It’s okay, though. It’s kind of fun to have a pretty pirate who looks a little like David Bowie shrieking about protecting you. It’s amusing to have monthly full-moon parties with a slightly-naughty pirate family that insists on joshing around. All things considered, that’s a good word for this – it’s amusing. It would be even more amusing if it had some mini-games, maybe some 3-D action, but I imagine that might come later. Or maybe not. This style of gameplay is very popular in Japan and Pirates in Love is the first in a series of games in this style. Will I pick up the further adventures of the Sirius crew? You know, I think I might. I want to see if Eduardo is really twisted or just kind of a jerk. In the magical world of interactive pirate iPhone manga, I’m betting on the latter. | Erin Jameson

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