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Buena Vista Games  
Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest
From: Buena Vista Games
For: PlayStation Portable
Genre: Action, Adventure, Platformer
ESRB Rating: Teen (13+)
Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest
The first thing you notice about Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest for PSP is the game's remarkable rendition of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. The next thing you notice is how lousy the game actually is.
Posted July 13, 2006
The first thing you notice about Pirates of the Caribbean Dead Man's Chest for PSP is the game's remarkable rendition of Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow. Not just his voice, likeness, eyeliner and loose flowing garb (pirate costumes are cool!), but the whole effeminate-drunkard thing, that off-kilter swagger reminiscent of the martial arts discipline known as Drunken Kung Fu, or, more appropriately, the Rock n' Roll (un)discipline known as Keith Richards Fu.

At any rate, it's all there, with you as Depp as Richards as Sparrow immersed in blockbuster movie set doing "piratey" things to save your servitude from the clutches of Davy Jones.

You notice it and marvel for an extended amount of time, a good ten minutes at least, and then you notice how the rest of the game is rather lousy.

A third-person action adventure, the Dead Man's Chest is mainly about getting from A to B via foot or rope swing, picking up necessary trinkets and one-off weapons and slicing up many a mangy cur along the way. Also as a third-person action adventure, it sucks. Or at least the camera, control, collision events and level design suck (the drunk Johnny Richards thing is always cool), as you can rarely see what's whacking at you off screen, or you get burned by a stone wall that happens to have fire on the other side in spite of the fact that you can't see it, or you just walk into a lot of trees because you thought you were sauntering forward, but the panning camera has swooped around and now forward is left. And you haven't had any rum (yet). There is a modicum of manual camera control in the shoulder buttons, but it's sluggish and fixed horizontally to boot, so mostly useless.

Movement is done with the PSP's analog thumb nub, action with the buttons and special "piratey" things activated on the d-pad. Sword fighting is a mainstay throughout with two default moves of speed attack and strong attack plus an all-purpose taunt attack which invokes a head-butt, backhander or crotch kick, each used to best effect when following icon prompts appearing above each enemies head. Speaking of which, when appearing in multiples, thugs tend to line-up and wait their turn, which is a glaring convenience otherwise known as "stupid." At any rate, said thugs can be dispatched more easily with a contiguous (and admittedly beautiful) string of icon-prompted attacks--a dual wielding swordsman, for example, takes several strong hits followed by a couple of swift ones as he finally drudges up the gumption to evade you; others, a speedy smackdown and one final power stroke/lunge to run him through. Most everyone gets impaled, but there's no blood (hence the "Teen" rating). It all makes for dynamic variations on what is otherwise repetitive action. But even that gets repetitive by minute 11. Not being able to see half the action or the icons because of the aforementioned wonky camera fixating on a wall or the next ledge you should be standing on (but aren't) doesn't help, of course. Nor does the maze-rat level design, which goes path, box, ledge, path, box, rope, puzzle, door, path, lather, rinse, repeat.

There's also a multiplayer component that represents a completely separate game of circling boats shooting at other circling boats. Yeah, that's a gas.

Too bad. A shameful waste of a really good effeminate drunkard.

  • TIP: Press Triangle, Circle, Triangle, Circle, Triangle, Circle, Circle, X during gameplay to replenish your health.

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Bang for your buck:
Poor New Purchase 
Ok Pre-played 
Good Bargain-bin Buy 

Score:  2.25  (out of 5)