xPirate is a board game that utilizes the iPod Touch, iPhone, and iPad. In this game, players become captains of their own pirate ships, traveling around the board to find the four hidden treasures before returning to their home base islands. Before you play, you'll need to download the free xPirate app from the Apple App Store. Open up the app and place your smart device in the cradle in the center of the game board. In the app, you'll need to add each player's name and what color they want to play as: red, yellow, green, or blue. Each player can also play at one of three difficulty levels: low, medium, or high. (You get more hints about where the treasure is when you play on the lower levels.) Once the information is set up in the app, each player must set up four island pieces anywhere in their colored section of the board.
Now you're ready to play. Players take turns using the app to roll the die on-screen. The die will tell players how many spaces to move on the board. Players can move diagonally, vertically, or horizontally, and they do not have to move the full amount of their roll. There are six places on which a player can land: small island, medium island, large island, skull island, base island, or open sea. Depending on where the player lands, that's the picture he presses in the app.
Then, several things could happen. You might receive safe passage on the open sea, or you might engage in a sea or land battle with other pirates. A Kraken attack and typhoon are other obstacles. Some island spaces take you to a Native Island Market where you can buy more supplies and hire more crewmembers using the gold and jewels you've collected along the way.
There is one secret treasure in each color region on the board. Once you have found the treasures in the other players' regions, return to your color region to find the treasure there. Then return to your home color base. The first player to do this wins, but the other players can continue playing to find out who comes in second, third, etc.
xPirate comes with eight playing pieces, a game board, a smart device cradle, and 16 island pieces. The game is for one to eight players.
This game sort of reminds us of the Oregon Trail video game only with pirate ships instead of horse-drawn carriages. We like that this game is different each time you play. It combines traditional board game play with technology that kids love using, especially to play games.
However, while xPirate has the right idea, there are a few things we wish would have been done differently. Kids do get to choose where to move their pieces around the board and what items to buy at the Native Island Markets, but the exciting parts of the game, such as the battles, do not require player participation. For these game moments, you simply sit back and watch the action unfold on the smart device screen. There is also nothing tangible to collect when you find the secret treasure. The app just stores the information that you found it.
Also, this is not a game you can start playing right out of the box. The instruction booklet has 13 pages to explain how to play, and even the Quick Start Guide is two pages of hard-to-follow text. (There are also some misspelled words and grammatical errors.) We recommend carefully reading through the instructions before you play. And even then, there is so much to remember, you'll definitely want to keep the instructions nearby during the game.
xPirate is for ages 8 and up.
EXIM Games says that this game can take more than one hour to play with four players at low or medium difficulty levels. If you need to stop playing mid-game for any reason, you can save your game in the app and come back to it when you are able to resume playing.
The game app is compatible with the iPod Touch 1st, 2nd, 3rd, and 4th generations; the iPhone, iPhone 3G, iPhone 3GS, and iPhone 4; and the iPad and iPad 2. These smart devices are sold separately.
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