When you’re in a position to preview incoming games on a platform as eclectic as iOS, there are times when you have to pinch yourself to make sure you aren’t dreaming. Pirate Gunner, the working title of a casual puzzle game set on the high seas, made me do just that when I spent a few hours with it over the weekend. The Brave Code build we previewed awhile back already convinced us that Lakoo is a publisher to watch, but by the looks of things they could be making a splash on the App Store with this Black Pearl-developed game well before Brave Code hits.

One part no-nonsense casual puzzler, one part hair-raising action puzzler, Pirate Gunner has the player busily connecting flames to cannon fuses aboard the pirate ship Dark Thunder as its captain steers his poor crew from one gun battle to the next. The player goes about his or her task by way of rotatable tiles with rope snippets on them. Sure, it may be nonsensical that the crew let a critical component of their weaponry get chopped up and tangled, but tying together connections under enemy fire makes for a really fun challenge — take too long to activate Dark Thunder’s gunnery and the ship will find a watery grave amidst a pummeling the opposition delivers at regular intervals. The player can turn the tangled mess to his or her advantage by forming connections that trace over bonus items or activate multiple cannons simultaneously.

I usually construct my previews to effectively say, “Here’s what’s cool about this game, but I’m going to leave lots of wiggle room for critique in case I need it come release day.” Shiver me timbers, this time I’m prepared to say that Black Pearl and Lakoo are on to magic the likes of which we haven’t seen since Pirates of the Caribbean hit the silver screen. Sporting lots of very beautiful window dressing – including an entertaining light plot – and three modes of play that sufficiently twist the core concept, Pirate Gunner looks like a definite winner. It’s certainly geared toward puzzle fans, but my, is it shaping up to be one of the most glowing offerings within that genre.

No word yet on when Pirate Gunner will set sail or at what price, but you can bet iFanzine has assigned a scallywag to keep a keen watch from the bird’s nest for this one!