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iPhone App Review: PirateFleet for Friends

iPhone App Review: PirateFleet for Friends

June 12th, 2011 by

The only thing better than blasting ships to the bottom of the ocean is being able to do it with friends, which is exactly the niche that UnitedToy tries to fill with their new game PirateFleet for Friends. Think Battleship played on your iPhone with cute cartoonish graphics and an age of sail theme and you’re starting to get the idea. Play against friends, invite friends to download the free game, or if you have no friends to speak of you can play against a randomly-selected opponent (provided they accept your invitation to battle). It’s a turn-based, push-enabled cannon-fest!

How It Works

For those who aren’t familiar the rules of the game on which this is based, a quick refresher. First you lay out your five ships on your “side” of the board. The ships vary in size from 2-square patrol boats to 5-square troop carriers. On your turn you get to launch multiple shots into your opponent’s sea in order to try and hit his or her ships. You can see where your shots hit and even where they have missed, and so over time develop an idea of where his ships may be hiding. You are notified if you sink a ship, which helps in building a mental picture of your opponent’s fleet and ship layout.

In this game there are also points: points are earned for hitting ships, sinking ships, and for reacting quickly and not making your opponent wait for you to take a turn. Points are lost for firing a cannon into the water. You get five cannon shots initially, and lose a cannon for every two ships in your fleet that are sent to the bottom. Push notifications pop up and a numbered badge sprouts on the game icon when it’s your turn in one of your games. You can have unlimited games in the premium version, or up to three at once in the free version.

There is also a drawing going on through July 18, for a weekend trip to Treasure Island in Las Vegas. It’s free to enter and you earn entries just by playing the game so, you know, why not?

Pros And Cons

One of the best things about the game is the attention paid to the overall experience. The graphics and sound are wonderful and make it a delight to see that it’s your turn to play. The graphics are cartoony and light, but that’s really the way to go when you’re playing a game about sending countless lives to their deaths at the bottom of the ocean, right?

The gameplay itself is fast, fun, and satisfying. The cannons boom, the ships are gradually destroyed, and when you sink a ship you get to see a satisfying dark shadowy outline of its hull at the bottom of the ocean. Good stuff.

The tweak to the rules that allows multiple shots per turn is also a welcome one for a turn-based game, since having only one shot would mean the game dragged on endlessly. It does seem to technically give the first player an advantage though, since you win immediately after sinking the last enemy ship. The rules could be tweaked to adjust for this by making the turns technically “simultaneous”, effectively meaning that if your last ship is sunk you still get to fire off a last round of shots in a last-ditch attempt to drag your enemy down with you. Or, you know, just forget about it because it’s just a game anyway.

I did have trouble setting up an account on my initial launch of the game. The account creation was successful (I knew because I got an email), but the game was stuck on the “loading cannons” message. I rebooted my device and the game still would not fully load. I then force-quit the game, and upon re-launching was asked to enter my email address again. It recognized my account and started the game up without a hitch, and has been problem-free ever since. I didn’t read other accounts of this happening to other users, so it may be something that can be avoided by simply rebooting your device before starting the game for the first time.

The only thing missing from the app is in-game chat, which is exactly what the developers are working on now due to overwhelming user request.


There isn’t much to say about this game other than the fact that it’s great. If like Battleship then you’ll love this digital, portable version even more. If you don’t like Battleship then you may actually like this game anyway, as the developers have done a fresh take on the classic that’s just plain fun to play. It’s free to play up to three games at once and to look at an ad after every turn, or you can swing the creators two bucks and have the ad-free version through in-game purchase.

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