Free to play games, when done with a smattering of integrity, are a breath of fresh air. Giving players hours of play without costing a penny is all sorts of awesome, and eventually if gamers are so enamored with the experience, money will be spent. It's a simple formula some developers don't adhere to, but thankfully Puzzle Pirates sets sail in the right direction.

Don't let the straightforward moniker fool you, since Puzzle Pirates isn't just a bunch of cute mini-games strung together. If you only have a few minutes and want to keep it simple, those puzzles are readily available to play. What puts this title ahead of the pack lies in its open world environment, as gamers go online to interact with different adventurers in taverns, shops, and most importantly, on pirate ships. Whether you're a social butterfly or a swashbuckling wallflower, the game has a variety of solo and multiplayer games to choose from. Being a touch passive aggressive, my favorite activity is sword fighting. It may play kind of like Tetris, but who cares? Two swords, even if it looks like a block party, is a full on fight!

With so many tasks and interactions swimming around your pirate's head, it may be hard to figure out what's going on while you're completing a challenge or running an errand. The lower left hand section of your screen gives real time updates on when other people join your ship or enter a room, and when your actual job is completed. The only stat I currently care about, since I'm still getting my sea legs, is dividing that bountiful booty. Without coin, food and grog at my local bar is a total non starter.

To get your feet wet with Puzzle Pirates, I suggest taking a stab at cleaning up the water build up on the ship. By manning the bilging station, you move same colored water particles together to clear some space. Move your finger left to right to connect them, and the water drops can either be matched vertically or horizontally. If you have half a brain, the water won't fill up to the brim, and it's a very easy game that will put a few coins in your pocket. Plus, seeing different shades of blue definitely brings out my wayfarer's eyes!

I'm a sucker for seemingly never ending experiences, and Puzzle Pirates' diverse online component makes the boredom factor relatively non-existent. Of course, if you're a pessimistic, eschew driven snob at heart, there's nothing I can do from stifling your boorish yawn. For the rest of us humans, however, there are so many worlds to traverse, treasures to loot, and even a home to upgrade. To give a taste of what plum tasks lay before you, check out the mission board.

Adventuring may be the sexiest part of Puzzle Pirates, that doesn't mean repairing a ship or building items isn't important. Want to nail wooden boards on a ship and become a seasoned carpenter? Go man that station and hammer away. What about navigating the waters? That task is also up for grabs as long as no one's manning the wheel. Your in-game life can be complete on shore or in the waters, and the choice is yours. Personally, I'm just looking for a fight on my iPad, so Intelligent Margaret is teaching me the way of the pugilist.

Puzzle Pirates is one stop shopping for gamers. Whether its multiplayer challenges, mini games, upgrading tasks, or cutting a destructive path on the high seas, the game's goal is to fully immerse us in its expansive world. Sega America has a winner on its hands with this engaging journey, and suddenly it's a pirate's life for me.


App Store Link: Puzzle Pirates for iPad | By Sega America | Price: Free | Version: 2.0.2 | 165 MB | Rating: 12+

8.0 out of 10 arcade sushi rating