Pirates: The Key of Dreams was originally meant to be released as one of the launch titles in Europe. For whatever reason this failed to happen, so now after about two months it has finally come out and perhaps lost some of its thunder. Interestingly it is a prequel to an upcoming DS game by the name of Pirates: Duels on the High Seas which looks very similar in concept unsurprisingly.
There are just two gameplay modes. You can play through the story mode on your own, or challenge up to three friends in a multiplayer battle mode (sadly with no Wi-Fi options). Let's talk about the single player game first.
The game's story is a bit strange to say the least. Pirates have become increasingly common around the world, so the governor of Port Royal, a famous harbour near Jamaica, sends you out to retrieve the "Key of Dreams". This key is said to make its owner into a battle master and able to easily defeat any enemies. However, as it is in the hands of a pirate, your ship is disguised as a pirate ship to as to infiltrate more easily. As a result all the national fleets in the locations you visit mistake you for real pirates and attack on sight! You can select three ships in single player mode - A big one, a medium-sized one, and a small one. Respectively, they represent easy, medium and hard difficulties. The large ship has the most health and firepower and the others are weaker.
The gameplay involves little more than sailing around and destroying other ships. There is some variety in the enemies like small and weak ships, large and strong ships, boathouses that spawn infinite boats until destroyed, gun towers, bomb boats which explode if they hit you, mine boats which drop floating mines, and some others. You can use your standard cannonball fire to deal with enemies and there are also some special weapons, like rockets, saw blades, flamethrowers and others. Ultimately however, these all perform in exactly the same way, right down to the amount of damage dealt....