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iPhone Game Review: Sea Captain
      #34180 - 08/22/09 09:24 PM

iPhone Game Review: Sea Captain

Sure you have already proven that you can rule the air as an Air Traffic Controller, but how good are you when forced to prove your skills in the water (does that make you a Lighthouse Keeper, Sea Captain, or even a Sea Traffic Controller, not sure)? In Sea Captain you?ll be tasked with keeping your little part of the sea accident free with all ships sent to their destinations as efficiently as possible.


The game at its core is as simple as drawing a line from any ship as it enters the screen to its same colored end destination in such a way so as not to bump into any other ships or other hazards (pirate ships, icebergs, islands, etc.). This, especially if you?ve played any other traffic routing type games, is much easier said than done. Ships come in from all sides at different speeds and need to be directed to their appropriate color coded dock (one of the three on the map). Evidently the individual captains are complete idiots since not only do they have no clue where their color coded dock is without your assistance, they insist on traveling at their ships? top speeds during their entire stay in your piece of the world. So since you can never ask any of them to cool their jets you need to give them routes that will not only avoid crossing each other but also end up at their end destinations staggered enough that they don?t ram each other in the docks? narrow entry point. Fun!

This game is nothing if not chock-a-block full of gameplay options! There are three different maps each with their own hazards and each of these three maps has a day and night mode. The night mode is an incredibly clever twist to gameplay mechanics with really the only thing being changed is the lighting. In the night modes you don?t see the usual clear outline of your ships but just their lights with some ships much better lit than others (a barge has lights all along both sides where a motor boat may just have a single light roughly in the center). The lighthouse in the center of each of the maps is therefore a valuable pal for its occasional flash of illumination in your ships? direction. You?ll find yourself playing a lot more cautiously in these night modes as not always being able to see your ship?s exact dimensions means you?ll need to give them all a little more breathing room than in daylight. You?ll start off only being able to access the fairly friendly New England Day map at first but once you prove your worthiness you?ll unlock its Night mode. To unlock further maps you?ll need to display your skills on the last unlocked map so don?t think you can just skip the night levels if you eventually want to see the Arctic and Caribbean maps (introducing hazards like icebergs and pirate ships respectively).

Play in all of these maps is a matter of seeing how many boats you can dock using as few orders (each time you draw a line for the ship it?s considered an order if just an inch or all the way across the map) until you?ve suffered three accidents. If you feel like a slight change of pace you can also play the game?s series of Challenges. These challenges are a series of tasks taking place across the game?s three maps with weird special rules in effect. As opposed to the normal game?s endless nature, these are almost always of a much more finite complete or fail nature (although even if you complete them you?re given a score you might want to later try to best). Can you dock 20 ships in 30 or less orders? Another challenge, can you dock 20 of the game?s big, slow, and unwieldy barges (in this challenge there are no other kinds of ships available) with only one life?


Although only 2D, the graphics are AMAZINGLY sharp, detailed, and well animated (neat touches like the submarines? blinking lights while partially submerged)! I also love how the game portrays your host with the most, the Sea Captain. He?ll dress accordingly for whichever map you?ve chosen and has dozens of salty quips (shown via his cartoon voice bubble) to throw your way from insults to actually telling you how many ships you?ll need to successfully dock to unlock the next map.


The sounds in this game are also incredible. Great ambient sounds and music to fit each map as well as unique sounds for each ship type in the game.

-Takes the gameplay mechanics introduced in games like Flight Control and then throws in a lot of new challenging twists.
-An incredibly polished presentation.
-Lots of replay in its six Survival Modes and five Challenges (hopefully more of each will be added in future updates).
-Local and Online High scores.
-Detailed statistics tracked.
-A fun sense of humor (it clearly doesn?t take itself too seriously).
-Three lives as opposed to having the game end at one crash like Flight Control and Harbor Master.
-An unbeatable price (has always been only $1).
-Clever scoring system based on ships docked and efficiency of orders. The formula is as simple as:

(Ships Docked/Orders Issued) x 1,000

So if you want to improve your score you can either focus on docking more ships or simply being more efficient with the orders you give the ships to dock on a given map.

-Many of the elements that make it uniquely challenging, on the flipside, can be seen as unnecessarily frustrating (like the moving and not player controllable obstacles). Some of the game?s extreme roughness was toned down in the latest update (like being able to crash into the dock itself if trying to approach it from too tight an angle).


I really liked this game and think it is a shame it never got the recognition it deserved. I think it lost a lot of people thinking it was just a cheap Flight control/Harbor Master clone but this is really selling it short as it introduces a lot of novel aspects not seen in either of the afore-mentioned titles. It also lost some with its more brutal difficulty with moving hazards and night levels, but I, for one, really liked these challenging twists (made for quicker more intense play sessions when compared to something like Flight Control that ramps up a little more slowly).

Ratings (scale of 1 to 5):

Graphics: -5- Incredible polish and animation in 2D!
Sound: -5- Great music (appropriate for each map), ambient sounds, and even unique sounds for each ship type.
Controls: -4.5- The controls are dead on but it still isn?t always clear if your current path will have you running aground.
Gameplay: -4- I?d like to give this a 5 but will deduct a point as some might find some of the game?s more challenging aspects more frustrating than entertaining (there is no bumping into the shore allowed and the night levels can really be pretty hairy with the limited visibility).

Playing Hints and Tips:

-It?s dark out there! Just realize that the night levels will require you to play a much more cautious game. Since you can?t always tell your ships? exact dimensions you may want to leave them all a little extra room than normal when routing them.

Game Facts:
Developer: Curious Toys
Release Date: July 23rd 2009
Version: 1.1.1 (OS 3.0 Tested)
Genre: Traffic Routing/Casual
File Size: 8.4 MB
Price: $0.99
Buy Game: iTunes App Store

Staff Reviewer at Mobile Tech Review

Edited by LordGek (08/22/09 09:29 PM)

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Re: iPhone Game Review: Sea Captain [Re: LordGek]
      #34182 - 08/22/09 09:57 PM

Yeah, this routing game is a really good one, but too often people unnecessarily criticize it when comparing it to Harbor Master. I really like its visuals and the game play is fun just a little more challenging.

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Re: iPhone Game Review: Sea Captain [Re: DevilishlyGood]
      #34183 - 08/22/09 10:05 PM

Yeah, think I will give it a try also.

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Re: iPhone Game Review: Sea Captain [Re: DevilishlyGood]
      #34184 - 08/22/09 10:10 PM

I like Harbor Master as well but, other than both being about routing ships to docks, they have a lot of unique strengths and weaknesses.

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