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Video Game / Puzzle Pirates

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Yohoho! Puzzle Pirates is an MMO created by Three Rings, Inc. In it, players take the role of Pirates in a cartoonish world. The game is divided into a number of servers, called Oceans; each Ocean consists of a number of islands separated into archipelagos; within this framework, players can partake in a number of activities, from sailing the high seas with fellow pirates in search of treasure, to working in or even owning and operating shops, to playing classic games like Hearts and Poker.

What makes this game unique is that all of its major tasks, from sailing a ship to distilling rum, are staged in the form of Puzzle Games. These include things like Match Three Games (for tasks like pumping the bilge water out of a ship, digging for treasure, or hauling it from a shipwreck), Falling Blocks (operating a ship's sails, as well as Swordfighting, in the vein of Super Puzzle Fighter), pattern-matching games (shipbuilding, for instance), and other, more exotic fare.

Another hallmark of the game is that its economy is almost entirely player-driven: players buy or forage commodities from islands, sail them back to their shops, and use them to manufacture goods using player-provided labor. This results in the game economy being remarkably similar to that of the real world.

This game contains examples of:

  • Acceptable Breaks from Reality: Carpentry and Patching repair the ship's overall damage, while in a real-life scenario a carpenter would repair the ship's hull while a patcher would patch the sails.
  • Allegedly Free Game: While you can certainly get a lot out of the game without ever paying a cent especially if the standard duty puzzles are your favorites, you'll need to pay if you want to play puzzles beyond those basic duty puzzles more than 2-3 specific days a week, buy better than entry-level weapons for swordfighting and rumbling (which do matter, as they affect your drop pattern), have any sort of standing within a crew, own a ship, or even buy most kinds of clothing.
    • However, as noted below in the Bribing Your Way to Victory entry, Doubloon oceans allow premium currency to be purchased with regular game currency, enabling effective free play for some extra effort.
  • Amusing Injuries: When a ship sinks, everyone on it has a chance of getting either a Seadog Peg Leg, an eyepatch, a Hook Hand, ornote  a starfish stuck to their face. These can be removed using special potions, but they're frequently seen as badges of honor among the playerbase.
    • Haunted Seas also introduces the temporary (until logoff) variation of turning into a ghost. If you see someone in ghost form outside of an event, that's how it happened.
  • Anti-Frustration Features:
    • In the carpentry puzzle, you are allowed to adjust a piece if you had misplaced it slightly.
    • Two of the three aspects of the ship that need to be maintained (Speed and Damage) have two puzzles you can do. For example, if the captain needs you at Sailing but you're bad at Sailing, you can try Rigging instead. Or if you keep cutting the sails in half during Patching, you can do some Carpentry to compensate. Bilge only has Bilging, but it's the simplest puzzle in the game (and the first one you have to learn).
  • Anti Poop-Socking: In the form of humorous messages during extended sessions.
  • Almighty Janitor: You can be an exceptionally skilled bilge rat who keeps the water levels very low even during a sea battle, and if that isn't enough, you can be an able swordfighter/brawler too!
  • Awesome, but Impractical: Larger ships, when used for basic pillaging.
    • Any ship up to and including a 159-man Grand Frigate can be successfully launched and sailed by a single player, thanks to NPC "swabbies" filling unoccupied duty stations to a basic level. However, the enemy ships spawned by your voyage will typically scale up to the size of your ship, or a couple of sizes larger, and attacking ships much smaller and less well crewed than your own (such as those spawned for other players or at random) risks suffering the wrath of the infamous Black Ship, and losing all your loot (and supplies!), making it basically never worth it.
    • Furthermore, the enemy puzzlers aren't limited to the consistent but poor performance of your NPC swabbies, meaning enemy ships will handle and maneuver significantly better in Sea Battle, especially if you're doing well, and by using a larger ship you're not only paying more for more and more expensive supplies, but also reducing the relative impact of any real players who do join you and perform better than "Fine". As such, there's no real benefit to using a ship larger than what you expect to be able to crew with real players, besides the Rule of Cool.
    • There are valid use cases for larger ships, such as during island blockades - where you can sink smaller enemy ships with impunity and no consequence, due to blockades being the culmination and centerpiece of PvP wars, making larger ships a necessity - when fighting in Atlantis, Flotillas, and the Haunted Seas - where enemy spawns will scale up in response to your larger ship, but within mechanical limits, and smaller ships often aren't tanky or powerful enough to effectively fight even their weaker spawns anyway - and against Imperial Outposts and Viking Raids, where the level of opposition is fixed and won't increase in response to you bringing a larger ship, allowing you to overkill smaller targets or fight on equal terms with larger ones. They're simply a questionable choice for basic pillaging.
  • But Thou Must!: Fairly justified in this case. If you try to kick a Yeti from a portrait during a Yeti sighting excursion, you will be prevented from doing it with the message "For your own safety, please refrain from kicking the Yeti."
  • Bribing Your Way to Victory: Doubloon Oceans use Doubloons as a premium currency, which needed to buy most high-end goods. Players can exchange regular currency for Doubloons, but that leads to players with money to burn buying lots of doubloons and making a killing off of selling them to others.
    • You can get an advantage in Drinking by buying a better cup from a distillery (you get a wooden cup by default, even if it isn't visible). Every cup but one lacks negative side-effects. Defied by most players and tournaments by disabling the option to bring your own cup in, and thus sticking to a wooden cup.
    • However, some things cannot be simply bought, such as high puzzle standings, trophies, and skill at certain aspects of the game, so Bribing Your Way to Victory is only possible for some definitions of "victory".
  • Breakable Weapons: Clothing and weapons last for a set amount of login days, ranging from a month to several. This can be avoided by putting the item into a wardrobe or rack when it is not in use.
  • The Computer Is a Cheating Bastard: Or "Cheating Savior" in this case. The Black Ship flat out cheats, moving through blocking terrain and doing several other things players can't do.
  • Dem Bones: Skeletons.
  • Developer's Foresight:
    • If you attempt to send a 'tell' to yourself, you will be informed that "talking to oneself is a sign of impeding insanity".
    • If you involve any wager in a puzzle challenge with a teacher during a challenge mission, they will refuse. For a good reason.
      Teacher (name varies): Teachers don't wager, matey. T'wouldn't be professional, like!
  • Did You Just Punch Out Cthulhu?: Downplayed. Krakens can be forced to retreat by a mere lifeboat... and a well-placed powder keg. They'll be back soon, however, which can lead to...
    • Broke Your Arm Punching Out Cthulhu: ...them resurfacing directly below your lifeboat for an instant sink, or the wave produced by their resurfacing also instantly sinking your lifeboat. (This would cross over with Too Dumb to Live, however, as they resurface in the exact same spot.)
  • Dressed to Plunder
  • Drop-In Nemesis: The Black Ship. Pound on weaker players too often, and it'll show up to kick your ass to Hell and back.
  • Fantasy Gun Control: Despite the existence of shipboard cannons and gunpowder, there are no personal firearms in the game.
  • "Far Side" Island: In the early years of the game, each new character began by being rescued off one of these, receiving a Justified Tutorial on the way to the nearest port.
  • Fog Feet: Ghosts.
  • Hat of Authority: Certain hats are restricted to officers and up, and only royalty can wear crowns. Also, each non-boss computer-controlled enemy ship has exactly one pirate with a hat, which is often thought to be the "captain" of said ship (though the belief that they should be eliminated first or last is widely considered to be an Urban Legend of Zelda).
  • Hello, [Insert Name Here]
  • Hook Hand: You may get one after sinking with a ship.
  • Horny Vikings: Both the Brigand Queen Brynhld Skullsplitter and the antagonists in a type of expedition.
  • An Interior Designer Is You: You can place furniture and props in ships and buildings you own.
  • Kraken and Leviathan: Krakens are one of the possible sea monster hunts. They are unkillable (and unapproachable by your main ship), but lifeboats can be used to explore their lairs and they can be wounded with harpoons to release "Kraken Ink"note  or heavily wounded and forced to retreat by being hit with powder kegs.
  • Lord British Postulate: El Pollo Diablo - the Black Ship which appears to punish players for attacking ships significantly weaker than themselves - is Purposefully Overpowered to an overwhelming degree, and intended to inflict a punishing defeat on any foolish ship which incurs its wrath - even the biggest and best-crewed. It has been defeated several times, and each time the developers have given it a major upgrade. It is currently undefeated in its fourth upgrade.
  • Obvious Beta: Most releases follows a predictable pattern: A version of the release is put on the test Ocean (read: server), Ice. Several bugs and glitches are found. Some of them are patched; some of them are not, despite being pointed out on the game forums. Then the features are released to the production Oceans, where the playerbase deals with the unpatched bugs and discovers even further bugs. Several emergency bugfix releases follow.
  • Pirate Booty: Several different kinds, obtainable in several different ways:
    • Basic Pieces of Eight can be obtained from any of the activities below, as well as through gainful employment on land or wagering on parlour games.
    • Both player and NPC ships can be plundered at sea for Pieces of Eight and commodities.note 
    • After finding out their location in a couple of different ways, Brigand Kings can be foughtnote . When defeated, they will ransom you unique trinkets for their releasenote .
    • The locations of buried treasure and sunken ships can be obtained through victory in sea battle, and the treasure dug/hauled up through puzzling, rewarding Pieces of Eightnote .
    • Flotillas can be assaulted for cash bounties, and Pieces of Eight hauled from the sunken wrecks of their ships.
    • Taking it a step further, Atlantean sea monsters, ghostly ships, and even Kraken can all be hunted down in Sea Monster Hunts. In the former two cases, treasure can be hauled up from their sunken wreckage after defeating them, while in the latter case a ship's complement of lifeboats can be sent out to collect the treasures found in and around its lair, in each case awarding unique rewards not available elsewhere, as well as damaged note  versions of ordinary itemsnote .
    • The former two Sea Monster Hunts also allow you to raid Atlantean Citadels to directly plunder booty from the Atlanteans, and Ship Graveyards to produce even more haulable wrecks, respectively.
    • Imperial Outposts can be raided and plundered for both basic and unique loot.
    • Defending settlements from Viking raiders also awards both basic and unique loot.
    • Finally, Cursed Islands can be raided by elite crews in daring assaults, using nearly every (non-crafting) puzzle in the game at some point. Once again, unique rewards can be captured from them.
  • Pirate Parrot: Are occasionally offered as prizes in competitions run by the developers. (Other shoulder-mounted pets obtainable as competition prizes include monkeys and, for some reason, octopi.)
  • The Pirates Who Don't Do Anything: Downplayed. There's plenty of pillaging and treasure-thieving to be had, but no one ever gets killed. Given the target audience and the fact that it's an MMO, this is not surprising.
    • When the war mechanic was first introduced, it was highly controversial, as many players didn't want to sink other players' ships or conquer their islands.
    • There are more than a few players who only play the card games.
  • Puzzle Game: It's called "Puzzle Pirates", what did you expect?
    • Match-Three Game: Three different variations, each with slightly different piece movements, scoring systems, and in-game roles which makes it unique - Bilge Pumping as a basic ship duty puzzle, Treasure Haul for the frantic retrieval of sunken booty, and Foraging to find either treasure or commodities depending on your location.
    • Falling Blocks: Swordfighting and Sailing both use such mechanics. In swordfighting the objective is to fill up the enemy's board to KO them while keeping one's own clear, while in Sailing high scores (and thus, ship speeds) are awarded through building complex combos to fill target shapes.
  • Real-Time with Pause: The Simultaneous Turn-Based "Battle Navigation" puzzle is this.
  • Rule of Fun: "Fun > Realism" is frequently invoked and mentioned as the underlying design principle used for every part of the game.
  • Seadog Peg Leg: If your ship is sunk in battle, there's a certain probability that you'll end up with a peg leg.
  • Shout-Out: Very many, including to all the obvious candidates like Monkey Island and Pirates of the Caribbean.
  • Talk Like a Pirate: Natch. NPCs always do, and there's even an option to filter swear words and replace them with piratey swears. Encouraged but optional for players.
  • Theme Naming: Pirate ships are generally named by the format "[Adjective] [Fish Species]", with the exception of the NPC ship El Pollo Diablo ("The Devil Chicken").
  • Third Eye
  • Training Dummy: Dummies can be ordered from a furnisher and named after any pirate. When placed in a scene, you can brawl against the dummy and it will copy whomever you named it after. Fighting dummies does not grant rewards or affect your puzzle standing, so it's only good for practice.
  • Treasure Map: It's sometimes possible to obtain maps that unlock special areas of the game — which, yes, generally involve an opportunity to load up on treasure.
  • Tutorial Failure: Most of the puzzle tutorials do little more than describe the controls and basic objective. Actually scoring well enough to earn an excellent or incredible rating usually requires specific techniques that are most easily learned from the wiki or video guides.
  • Unusual Euphemism: Swear words are, by default, replaced with various nautical/piratey terms. These Unusual Euphemisms have thus crept into the language of long-time players, who'd use them in places like crew names and forums.
  • Video Game Cruelty Punishment: El Pollo Diablo is an NPC ship that appears when you attack a significantly weaker ship and will fight in place of the attacked ship. It cannot be damaged or grappled, goes through obstacles, gets 4 moves each turn (unlike other ships the same size), and knows your every move. After inflicting full damage on your ship, it will grapple you and you will fight 159 skellies. If it wins, it takes everything except 5 of the lowest quality rum you have.
  • Walk the Plank: Ship captains are able to hand out this punishment to crew members who are being particularly unpleasant. note  A captain can even inflict this on himself. Somehow.
  • Wide-Open Sandbox: This is one as far as MMORPGs are concerned. Do work for the navy, or become a member of a pirate crew. Gamble at the Inn or do work for the stalls. It is a very player driven economy, so there are plenty of things to craft.
  • Wooden Ships and Iron Men: In loving detail. Even the pirates act more like privateers.

"Did you hear the cannon shots last night?"