Ron Gilbert is most famous for The Secret of Monkey Island, a game about pirates. So it makes sense that his latest game, Scurvy Scallywags in The Voyage to Discover the Ultimate Sea Shanty: A Musical Match-3 Pirate RPG (or SSITVTDTUSS:AMMTPRPG for short) is also a game about pirates!
Scurvy Scallywags is a match-3 game in the vein of Puzzle Quest but, because the game is being released on iOS, it uses the touch interface in unique ways. For example -- most match-3 games have new pieces falling in from the top. Puzzle games have been like this since Tetris, right? In Scurvy Scallywags you can choose which direction the new pieces come from by swiping. Sounds confusing right? But the idea actually comes from a prototype Ron Gilbert developed earlier with a friend.
In traditional match-3 games like Bejeweled, when you match three shapes they disappear and the gap is filled by pieces falling in from the top. In Realms of Gold, the piece could come in from the sides or even the bottom depending on the type of match you did.
It was fun, but it was also a little confusing. The game was a RPG, but we were told by the publisher that no one wanted to play a match-3 RPG, so that part of the game was watered down. Of course, a year later Puzzle Quests comes out and sells a billion copies.
A little over a year ago I pulled a match-3 prototype out of the closest and started working on it. There was something about the way the board collapsed in Realms of Gold that I really liked. Clayton and I screwed around with it for a bit, then he hit upon a way to make the collapsing work a lot better. Rather than the type of match you made dictating the direction the board collapsed, have the board collapse in the direction you swiped. I made this change and it felt fantastic and very intuitive.
An odd side effect of doing this was you could move pieces around the board. So unlike Puzzle Quest - and just about every other match-3 RPG that sprang up after it - in Scurvy Scallywags you actually move your hero/pirate around the board and position her/him next to enemies to do battle. It creates this new layer to the matching that is a lot of fun.
Regardless, I'll be checking it out. I love Ron Gilbert, I love pirates and I um... tolerate match-3 games. Two out of three ain't bad.