Traveler’s Tales long series of LEGO games has included the likes of several of the Star Wars films, Harry Potter, Batman, and Indiana Jones.  Taking an established franchise, converting it into an action-platformer chock full of LEGO bricks, and mixing in some tongue in cheek humor is the idea here.  Most of the games are fairly good if not derivative of each other, and in that respect LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is no different for – better or for worse.

LEGO and the Pirates brand are actually very intuitively combined into an action-platformer.  All three of the released films are in here as is the upcoming fourth film On Stranger Tides, set to release in a few weeks.  The goofy and charismatic Johnny Depp as Captain Jack Sparrow translates perfectly to a LEGO game and arguably is one of the most humorous LEGO characters to date.  Unfortunately, as with all of the LEGO games, a prior knowledge of the films’ events and characters is almost mandatory for any of the game’s story to make any sense considering all of the characters speak through  mumbles and grunts without subtitles of any sort.  Its very charming in its own right, but can come off as somewhat exclusive of those not familiar with the series.

A Pirate’s Life for Me

Gameplay is fairly standard LEGO fare, if you’ve played any of the other Traveler’s Tales LEGO games then this will be very familiar to you.  For better or for worse, the game sticks to the series staple of going through several sets of short to medium length levels while collecting LEGO studs to unlock new minifig characters and other goodies. Pre-rendered cut-scenes summarize the four films’ stories and are taken from Xbox 360 and PS3 versions of the game.  A central hub level allows the player to use their collected LEGO stubs to buy new outfits, accessories, and minifig characters, of which there are over 70.

The platforming elements are light and the combat easy throughout the adventure’s 16 levels, which are broken up into 4 chapters based on the films.  Sword-fighting is a fairly easy affair, you can swing a sword or fire a ranged weapon to make short work of baddies.  Short work being the key word here considering the incredible ease of defeating the enemies.  Most will take a few slashes with your sword or two shots with your pistol to finish off.  What’s more is that if you so happen to find yourself out of health you simply re-spawn while loosing some LEGO stubs. It’s probably worth noting that  I did not find myself dying in combat at any point in the game.

Boss battles are handled through duels and take a cue from Sid Myers Pirates! – released on the PC, Xbox, and PSP a few years ago. Dueling  involves mashing the B button to build up an onscreen gauge and following several on-screen button prompts to successfully land an attack on the boss.  The duels don’t get much harder as the game progresses, leaving the boss battles with much to be desired. Duels aside, the simple combat and platforming allow for very accessible controls- namely the four face buttons controlling the various actions and the shoulder buttons swapping characters.

All in all, the game should take about 6 hours to play through the first time around if collecting the various LEGO stubs and treasures along the way.  Not every character can access every part of the level so a second or third play-through of each level is almost mandatory if you want to see everything that the game has to offer.  That said, it feels more like a leisurely stroll in the park rather than a full on roller-coaster ride – especially if you aren’t in the suggested age category of  10+ .

Sights and Sounds out Yonder.

Traveler’s Tales did a great job in capturing the look and sound of the Pirates franchise in this latest LEGO installment.  The 3DS version of the game is visually akin to the PSP one albeit with much better lighting and shadow effects.  Will Turner, Jack Sparrow, and the rest of the cast are very well animated, particularly Jack Sparrow’s trademark swagger.  Textures can be blurry in certain places but overall are crisp and clean.  The 3D effect is not as pronounced in some places due to the isometric camera angle but is still fairly decent throughout. The 3DS version has less detail than the Wii version yet boasts some very nice real time shadows and lighting.

The excellent soundtrack from the films makes the action sequences more exciting and the platforming more immersive though at the cost of being somewhat repetitive. You will here the roaring pirates theme alot -which isn’t necessarily a bad thing.   The sound effects are fairly similar to he previous LEGO games and involve  a lot of grunts, mumbles, laughs, and the sound bricks being assembled.

Another LEGO Brick on the road of life

One absent feature from the 3DS – and the PSP and DS – version of the game is the coop multi-player.  Instead, Treaveler’s Tales implemented a Street Pass battle feature where you can level up characters by participating in random battles with other 3DS gamers with Street Pass enabled and a copy of the game.  These duel battles have take no input from the player and are simply resolved based on the characters stats.   It’s a neat little feature, though is likely to not get much use, depending on where you are located.  A proper coop mode over the internet would have added a lot of replay value to the relatively short LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean. 

Lego Pirates of the Caribbean is a fairly good action platforming romp on the 3DS for fans of the films and younger gamers in general.  Those looking for more substance in gameplay or innovation to the established LEGO formula would do better to pick up LEGO Star Wars III for Xbox 360 or Ps3, as LEGO Pirates for the 3DS might not sustain your interest for too long.  The action and platforming elements are decent if not overly easy and derivative of past games; though a strong visual and audio presentation, coupled with some great charm and character, does help to look past the games simplicity.  LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean is worth the purchase for 3DS owners looking for some light action-platforming on the go.


 – Great graphics and Sound

 – Lots of stuff to collect

 – Charming LEGO gameplay


 – Short

 -Easy and somewhat shallow gameplay

Overall: 7/10