Hot News Crapshoot: The Jack Sparrow game with an indescribably bad PC port

From 2010 to 2014 Richard Cobbett wrote Crapshoot, a column about rolling the dice to bring random obscure games back into the light. This week, you’d think it’s any port in a storm, but there’s only one to choose from—a rotten, maggot-infested port that find whole new dimensions of suck.

Forget the Dark Souls PC port. Darksiders 2 missing a few options? Pffft. Sure, at first glance that kind of thing may score high on the ol’ betrayal chart, but for me? No. For I have played The Legend of Jack Sparrow, one of the most half-arsed ports in the history of mainstream franchises.

Yes, it’s really that bad. Sit back and let’s see how a phenomenal concept ended up being the adventure that really put the “Yaaarh!” into “Yaaarh, I was just stabbed in the balls with a fork!”

Now, I loved the original Pirates of the Caribbean movie, and while the sequels dropped and picked up the ball more often than an apprentice juggler, even their worst moments weren’t enough to dampen the original greatness. A little high-seas action. Adventure. Funny dialogue. Imaginative escapades. The genius reversal of the concept—a ship of pirates trying to return stolen treasure. And of course, Jack Sparrow, who’s admittedly a complete cartoon after so many sequels, parodies, spin-offs and that god-awful fourth movie. When he debuted though, he was a breath of fresh air, a trickster mentor who stole the show from his very first scene to the moment he sailed off into the credits at the end.

As a concept, Pirates of the Caribbean: The Legend of Jack Sparrow is a perfect game pitch. It’s not simply ‘let’s make a game about Jack Sparrow’, but a game where Jack gets to be the narrator of his own tall tales. How did he sack a whole port without facing a single shot? Did he really defeat a Viking ghost monster previously buried for eternity in ice? It doesn’t matter. Jack just has to be able to tell it with a straight face and let the awesomeness flick two snotty fingers up at reality. I wasn’t expecting the greatest game ever from this, but I was actually looking forward to playing it.

Unfortunately, I never actually got off the first proper stage. Why? Well, it started here:

Yep, it’s just the main menu. Your challenge, should you choose to accept it, is to tell me what button you press to select the current option. Assume you don’t have a controller plugged in, since this was 2006 and it wasn’t as common to have one back then. Keyboard only here, and I’ll give you a clue—it’s not CTRL. Or Enter. Come on. I wouldn’t waste your time if it was that easy.

Got it? Got that key firmly locked in your mind? No changies!

If you said ‘space bar’… you are wrong.

If you said ‘E’… nice try, but no. Again, wrong.

Ready? Make sure you’re sitting down.

It’s NumPad 2.

I’m serious. More to the point, so were they. No other key does a damn thing. It has to be Num Pad 2. And how do you find out that it’s Num Pad 2? Well, that’s the best bit! You have to press it to go into the Options menu and see the key-bindings in the first place—at least in game. I don’t still have my manual, but I don’t remember it helping. Playing the game, all you get are meaningless icons like a sword or a pointy hand instead of actual buttons, and they certainly weren’t explained properly outside it.

Did I mention that later, there are QTEs? Did I even have to?

You’re probably thinking “But that’s OK, at least you can check them in game.” Nope! Only the Options screen you can access from the main menu offers any key information. In-game, you can only alter volume, vibration and subtitles. And the bit that really takes a shit in the chocolate ice-cream and hands you a spoon? One of the commands—the Run-Kick—isn’t even configured. Even if it’s comprehensively useless, the gap stares back from the screen like a sucking abyss of… uh… oh, what’s the word I’m thinking of? Describes things that are not very good at all. You know.


Tags: #Crap Shoot

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