Hands on with the surprisingly excellent Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest DS

Shiver me timbers, could Captain Jack Sparrow's X hit the spot?

Hands on with the surprisingly excellent Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest DS

Considering the quality of most movie tie-in games (King Kong or X-Men III anyone?), the fact Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest was one of our favourite games on both DS and PSP at E3 is little short of miraculous.

Taking control of a staggering Captain Jack Sparrow as he broke his way out of prison was more than just a surprise – it felt like a revelation.

Partly it's the sheer visual polish of the game. Dead Man's Chest runs in peachy 3D on the DS' top screen, and combined with well positioned fixed cameras, it looks great.

One particular spot in the E3 demo, which showed sunlight streaming through prison windows into a dark interior, was among the most atmospheric scenes we've seen on the DS. The animation of the Captain as he swayed unsteadily around was equally impressive.

Then there's the swashbucking combat. With slash, kick, block and jump moves available (and various combinations thereof), there was a compelling beat-'em-up-lite feel to proceedings, with Sparrow easily able to cope with being surrounded by up to three guards.

In the demo we played you could pick up weapons dropped by the guards and throw knives and cleavers too, while large items such as barrels broke on contact, releasing coloured gems, which you collected to fuel Sparrow's power-up system. Health came, appropriately enough, in the shape of bottles of grog.

The demo ended with a neat scripted puzzle, where you placed a barrel of gunpowder by a locked door, picking up a wall-mounted torch to set it off and make your final escape.

Of course, one demo doesn't define an entire experience. But the reason we're so excited about Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is that like the Tony Hawk's series, it's among the few games to treat DS as more than just a quirky handheld that's only fit for cute, 2D games. Rather, you can do the sort of things you'd expect to do in full-blown console games, as well as play Johnny Depp (and Orlando Bloom and Keira Knightley in later levels) in what is one of the most anticipated movies of the summer.

There's even a two-player co-op mode, as well as several mini-games such as Walk the Plank and Shoot the Monkey. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is due for release on the 23rd June, and frankly we can't wait to get hooked on it.

Jon Jordan
Jon Jordan
A Pocket Gamer co-founder, Jon can turn his hand to anything except hand turning. He is editor-at-large at which means he can arrive anywhere in the world, acting like a slightly confused uncle looking for the way out. He likes letters, cameras, imaginary numbers and legumes.