System Requirements: Minimum System requirements: Windows 2000, XP, Vista or 7 / 800 MHz processor / 256 MB RAM / DirectX 7.0 or later
Release Date: Available Now
Written by: Ian Davis
Let’s get this out of the way: Captain Backwater is pirate-y. It’s hard to communicate the fullness of this meaning. Backwater takes every pirate cliché in an awkward embrace, leaving you to sit by and pretend not to notice. If cheesy pirate sayings don’t float your boat, worry not; the theme can be surgically removed from the actual gameplay without harm. Once you carefully perform such an operation, you’ll find Captain Backwater a rather charming, straightforward puzzle game.
It starts with a simple objective: slide pieces around the board to make matching pairs. Pieces slide until they hit something, so planning out a course of action beforehand is necessary. It starts easy enough, but the mechanics advance quickly. Teleporters, paint, slide tiles, dancing monkeys and more quickly compound each other, resulting in 80 levels of rather challenging puzzles.
Captain Backwater features some very smooth aesthetics. Bright colors, satisfying sound, and rounded edges make it easy on the eyes. Soft music soothes away your worldly cares, until that bloody pirate decides to open his mouth again. There’s only so many random “AAARRRRS” a man can take.
Captain Backwater was originally designed as a DS game, and it feels like it. The flinging of pieces and the swiping moves to pick up gold coins both feel like they belong on a touch device. However fine it plays with a mouse, its home port really ought to have a touch screen of some sort.
Don’t let the casual appearance give you any ideas. After 15 levels of training, Backwater starts to hit its stride. Suddenly, everything seems less obvious, and for the first time, you’re really forced to think. The ramp-up is not gentle, and if you’re not prepared, it might throw you off all together.
Mechanically, everything works fine, but for a pirate game, Backwater doesn’t have much of a hook. You can flick pieces around and make the special effects activate, but besides hearing the animated face of a faux-pirate talk, there’s not much reason to. For puzzle games, there’s a fine line between tedious and interesting. While it’s too much to give Backwater the Black Mark, it’s not the most rewarding of voyages either.