Plunder Kings in Review: Not Worth The Gamble

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I have been a fan of the scrolling shooter (or shmups as they are theoretically affectionately known) for a long time, and I get excited every time I come across a new one for my mobile devices.  The thing is, like with most genres the basic tenant of such a game doesn’t change from one outing to the next, so it’s up to each developer to come up with something that sets their product apart from all the rest.  Plunder Kings managed to do that, and I actually like what they came up with.  The problem is that the rest of the game falls square in the middle of the scrolling shooter spectrum.  It’s not a bad game by any means, but at the end of the day I can find enough games in this genre that are more appealing that there’s no particular reason for me to add this one to the “permanent play” collection.

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On the off chance you’ve never played a scrolling shooter before, the premise is pretty simple.  You basically want to blast everything on the screen without getting killed yourself.  Typically the bad guys come at you in waves, and more importantly they attack in patterns, as the foes do in this game.  That’s important, because while occasionally a shooter with a screen full of fliers that move around randomly and often appear to be drunk can be fun, for me a big part of the joy in shooters is memorizing the movements of your foes so you can beat them at their own pre-designed game.  Each level will have a final boss, and often as is the case with Plunder Kings there will be a set of objectives to complete.  Sometimes they vary from level to level, but here they are static and include things like getting at least a certain score and the bane of all objectives – completing every objective.  We won’t get into the logistics of that one here.

You have a choice of three ships to use, each with their own primary weapon, ultra and drone.  The primary weapon is constantly firing, so you just have to worry about navigating your ship around the screen using your finger to drag it where you want to go.  When powered up you’ll also have the ability to activate a boost, which basically just supercharges your weapon for a short period of time.  Double tap the screen to take advantage of this one.  As long as it has ammo you can make use of your drone, which is activated by tapping the screen with the finger you’re not using to pilot the ship.  Finally you have the Ultra, which is one of those attacks that is different for each ship but pretty much lays waste to whatever is on the screen.  To use this power you have to hold both fingers down for a short period of time.  The controls don’t feel 100% natural in this regards, but they aren’t bad when you get used to them.  The real problem for me is that I tend to forget I have them available, and in all honesty so far once you’ve acquired enough level ups for your main weapon you almost don’t need them.  Plus, you can actually get bonuses for not using them, which I’ll discuss next.

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At this point, whether you’re a pro at or at least familiar with the genre, you’re probably thinking that it doesn’t sound much different than any other shmup.  That’s where the idea of wagering comes in.  After you select a level to play you’ll get the opportunity to pick which fighter you wish to use, but you can also head over to the wager menu.  There you’ll find certain objectives like “reach a certain number of waves” or “finish the stage with no damage taken”.  And, as mentioned above, you might see something like “complete the level without using X”.  On some of them, like the “certain number of waves” one, you’ll actually have the option of setting a target number, at least within specific increments.  On all of them you get to pick the amount you wish to wager.  If you succeed in reaching the objective on that play through, you’ll earn the amount of money you wagered.  Otherwise, it will be taken from your current stash.  I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this right off the bat with any particular level, but once you’ve become powerful enough to pretty much beat a stage every time through, this is a great way to get more money without having to do quite as much grinding.

Visually the game is pretty weak.  The backgrounds are sparse and bland, and the spaceships mostly look like they come from a starter graphics pack you might buy as an filler while you’re designing the game.  Every once in a while a ship might stick out from the pack, but not enough to leave a real impact.  The special effects aren’t terrible, but they aren’t very special either.  The sound effects fall into the same boat, and the music is decent but not something I’d sit and leave playing in the background for any length of time.  Overall the aesthetics are somewhat substandard for a premium game in this genre.

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Overall I wasn’t very impressed with Plunder Kings.  The idea of wagering against goals to earn more coins is pretty cool, but there’s not much of a game to go around that concept.  There is no shortage of scrolling shooters in the mobile world, and I could easily name half a dozen that would be more enticing than this one.  However, to be completely fair my device is no longer compatible with the latest versions of this game, and I know they added some features since I was last able to update, so it’s possible those could change my mind.  As such, I won’t be giving this a formal rating per se, but I also can’t recommend it based on what I have been able to play.

Note: I was provided with a promo code to download this game.  Also, the current version and OS requirements information reflects the latest on Google Play, not what is on my device.

App Summary
Title: Plunder Kings Developer: Goodnight Games LLC
Current Ver: 1.3.0 Min OS Req: Android OS 8.0
Price: $2.99 App Size: 27MB
  • Wagering for additional loot
  • Mediocre game play
  • Bland visuals and audio
  • Doesn’t stand out from the crowd

Get it on Google Play

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