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Game Review

Arrgh! Any self-respectin' pirate game worth its salt needs a treasure chest that's buried on a tropical isle. An' perchance a crumblin' map bearin' an X that marks the spot.

And that's exactly what Destination: Treasure Island has. It's five years after the events of Robert Louis Stevenson's Treasure Island, and Jim Hawkins, now captain of his own ship, receives a missive carried by a parrot messenger. The note offers him part of a map and tantalizing clues that promise to lead to Long John Silver's greatest treasure. Jim just happens to be in the midst of a struggle with some mutinous crew members, so he throws care to the four winds and makes his way to the Emerald Isle. There he discovers that the crusty Long John himself has set up an elaborate treasure hunt complete with riddles written in rhyming verse (called enigmas) and clue-revealing puzzles.

With the help of those clues and the old peg leg's parrot, you traverse the island and run into, among other things, bloodthirsty pirates and a young girl who claims to be Long John's last living relative. Pirate-worthy puzzles range from knot tying and boat repair to figuring out an old Incan calendar in order to reveal the cobweb-covered recesses of a native temple. Memorization plays a part in a few instances, too, as when Jim has to remember the lyrical line of "Dead Man's Chest" and sing it with Long John's bird friend before he can move on.

As you might expect from a game based on a pirate novel, skeletons, old bones and skulls are scattered here and there. Cannon-blasting ships and a gun-wielding pirate show up as part of the play, as well.

What parents of gamers young enough to want to play the game might not anticipate, however, are rum-swilling, tobacco-smoking marauders, a young girl in a tied-off, midriff-baring top and a freebooter who gets tossed into piranha-infested waters. (We see a resulting red pool on the water's surface.) Though rare, the words "d--n" and "b--tard" both make one or two appearances in the pirate vernacular.

More toward the sunrise side of the sea, game play is pretty straightforward and the whole enterprise can be brought into port in a sensible amount of time. The first-person perspective is good at steering even younger swashbucklers to key items that they must collect and combine in order to unlock the island's secrets. And the biggest secret the game has in store is that pieces of eight and rare gems are not Long John's most valued treasures. Something closer to home wins that prize. What it is, exactly, you'll nary be able to pry from me wind-blistered lips!

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Episode Reviews

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