So, how to start... some might say that this game is brutal. Merciless. Unforgiving. But there are far harder, and more rage inducing games such as megaman (especially the earlier ones), Contra and, more comparably, Ghouls'n Ghosts.
You play the role of Cabin boy Jim (if memory serves as his name is not mentioned at all during the game, maybe in the manual). Or some dude with a sword, a killer jump and an arguable fashion sense!
The aim of the game is to venture through a few levels of questionable organisation to ultimately defeat the evil Captain Silver! There is no text or story, much like lots of games at that time. So we will assume you are the guy and Captain Silver is evil and hell bent on destroying the world.
You start in a small town with only a sword, a green waistcoat and your turban. Why do you have a waistcoat and turban? Who knows? You walk along, slashing giant tigermen, who kill you if they touch you. Because everyone knows the association between tigers and pirates! Some cats drop down and scratch your face off, but your large area attack simply despatches them with relative ease. And about 20 seconds into the first level, you find out if you have any chance of beating the game or giving up in a rage induced fit!! This is the most memorable part of the game from what I hear and talk about.
After killing numerous tigerman and evil cheshires you come upon a tree. It has a ladder with a powerup at the top and has 3 queasy pumpkins. Unilke the cats, who attack from the air at a 45 degree angle, these bad boys drop vertically, which makes them tricky to kill as they fall, if you miss them when they are coming down, they run along the floor and kill you by hitting your feet. If your timing is good enough for this part, then you should be able to beat the first level with ease as this is the toughest test you encounter.
After getting past this tree you meet your first helper, a fairy!! Which upgrades your sword to shoot a star horizontally across the screen to pop foes from range. As you stumble further on and collect more of these badass faefolk they upgrade to three stars shooting out and then a 3rd power-up has a whopping 5 stars is a Contra style spread.
After this first fairy power-up though you meet the first sub-boss. A piper dude who prances round the screen shooting musical notes at you. Kill him, slash a few more tigermen and collect some letters. I forgot to mention you get extra lives if you collect the letters C-A-P-T-A-I-N S-I-L-V-E-R. The letters are just lying around the level and appear when you kill enemies, Special enemies drop special "revolving"letters that change every second or so, and to your advantage make it easy to fill in the letters that you don't have.
The only real addition to this is some moths who are the first projectile shooting enemies. You cannot slash these projectiles, you can rarely jump over them due to the angle at which they are shot. You just have to time your ducking right, and slash the little buggers before they crash into you.
Slash slash, cut cut. Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaand Boss time!!!!!!!
The first boss is a witch, An evil broom-riding, wart-ridden ugly creature, she flies around the screen in an annoying pattern which means unless you have the 5-Star slash she is very difficult to beat in the remaining time limit. She also drops, none other than our favourite friend, the depressed pumpkin. Kill her and she dissolves into dust before your very eyes!
The second level very much sets the tone of the rest of the game. Very bright, very colourful. You are now on a boat! With pirates!! (and seagulls who fly around just to annoy you) But pirates! Who doesn't love pirates! (That's a rhetorical question. If you don't love pirates I don't want to know you!!) This level you do very seamanly things. Like jump over holes where pirates come from below decks. Find ways over and under stacked cargo boxes, And climb the rigging. Now you feel like you are playing a pirate game. And it's awesome. A few varying types of pirates are in this level. Big fat pirates who throw knives at you which you need to jump over or duck under, all whilst slashing at these annoying, bald fat man. Or skinny little pirates who you only have to hit once, but watch out they have flintlock pistols. And BANDANNAS and STRIPY shirts!!! Like all good generic pirates!!
So you make your way to the front of the ship to fight the captain. But guess what. Plot Twist! It's not captain silver. Its just a dude who is evil and a captain, and annoying. A couple of different tactics on him and the second level is now past you.
You are then on a tiny little boat, with flying fish jumping at you, and pirates chasing you in equally small rafts. Also the seagulls are still around amd its the return of the moths shooting fireballs at you! Because all moths are known to release giant man-destroying fireballs. Pretty mundane, yet difficult, level as you cannot leave your boat as all sailors die as soon as they touch water ! So you then get to the beach of the treasure island, and what awaits you? A rock-lobbing Cyclops! Another test of the game here, if you don't have fairy power, you only need 1 to beat him, go home. He walks forwards and back erratically and throws boulders without warning and its difficult to tell whether to jump or duck. No star shots, no progress.
Then you go through a very brightly coloured and evil jungle where the treasure is obviously hidden and guarded by none other then Captain Silver himself. I won't go into too much detail. A. for those that are not familiar with 8-bit side scrollers, it would spoil the experience if you picked this game up. And B. if you like 8-bit side-scrollers then it's the same formula from now on that we all know and love.
So to summarise, a challenging game with some tricky moments. An odd first level that doesn't quite fit, but gives a good introduciton to the game. A soundtrack that has to be heard to be believed. And some very memorable levels.
Verdict:- On the whole a lovely side scrolling adventure game that fits the era perfectly, it's challenging on the whole and has some very tricky moments but I happen to like this in a game.
Whilst hard games may not be everyone's cup of tea, games on the Master System used this formula often so you should have no real problems having tons of fun and ignore the slightly harder/annoying parts.
Second Opinion:- Transbot has no ears but if he did they would be in pain from the ONE soundtrack that plays constantly in the background and re-sets when you enter and leave rooms etc, anger builds...
The game itself is good though, very colourful and varied in level design and Transbot likes tough games, he is after all in one himself!
Transbot Scores:- 6 out of 10