What can a game bring to the Match-3 genre that hasn’t been done before? We’ve done the drag-3, we’ve used hexagons instead of squares, put chains around boxes, threw bombs inside the boxes, we’ve even expanded the screens. Pirate Island did something that I don’t recall seeing before – instead of moving pieces adjacent to one another, we get to swap pieces around on the board.

Aside from that, Pirate Island is almost a cookie cutter Big Kahuna Reef clone. Match 3 icons or more horizontally, vertically, or diagonally. Matching 4 or more, as well as matching crosses, gives you bombs, that when matched create spectacular explosions. As you progress in your adventure, the boards get more complicated and there will be a need to clear each tile more than once, as well as chains added to some boxes to slow your advancement. Power-ups are limited to the hammer and the hourglass, which are self-explanatory.

The one thing that I find that really sets Pirate Island apart is the very unforgiving time meter as well as the ability to keep going around matching things as matches are already in progress. If you have a quick hand, you could rack up combos as you create match after match, and it promotes a fast and furious game.

When you finish each level, you’ll be rewarded with skeletons in weird hats that were probably not invented when Pirates were in existence, doing a little jig. Not that I’m complaining, mind you. It’s strangely entertaining. The hats in question ranges from the white wig to the baseball cap. Between chapters there is also a mini-game, that isn’t so much a mini-game as a “points giveaway.” These are usually puzzles where you have to swap images around to create a complete picture, or the typical memory game. Again, nothing new, but it does go towards breaking up the non-stop match-3 action.

I’ve only played previous games from Nevosoft that are hidden object games, namely the mysteryville series as well as Magic Academy. These games are characterized by very well drawn graphics and a well-told (sometimes too convolutely) story. Pirate Island is no different; each chapter is accompanied by beautifully drawn backdrops and each story segment with lively characters and a full, well-written script.

Pirate Island doesn’t bring anything particularly new to the genre, but it is an addictive Match-3 that provides hours of entertainment. It saves mid-level, and that’s always a plus in my book. The story is also another plus; whoever heard of a match-3 with a good story with twists in it?

Pirate Island is available as a trial on Big Fish Games, and it’s also on MostFun for unlimited free play with their player download.