Captain Sabertooth and the Magic Diamond is an okay game that would be much better if it knew the audience it was aiming for.

While I had never heard of this franchise before, evidently, it’s quite popular in Norway. The series encompasses a broad range of media. I do hope the other installments have better plots. Searching for a magic diamond that “grants its holder a single wish” is cliched. It’s also odd how you buy things from the very pirates you are working with to find the treasure. Oh well, an underdeveloped plot comes second to the gameplay, which targets kids.

As part of a kids franchise, is Captain Sabertooth and the Magic Diamond kid-friendly? Yes and no. First, I’ll share some ways it is. Nearly every enemy you defeat gives you a heart, so health is barely a worry. Even if you fail, save points are generous, and the gems and gold you lose on defeat remain where you dropped them. So, you can merely return and pick them up. While opening a treasure chest sends valuables every which way (not uncommon for a game like this), they never disappear from the screen. Lastly, your character can actually swim in the water, so no more instant drowning.

Despite these positives, in my estimation, this game isn’t for all ages. There’s some challenging platforming, and the controls are not as fluid as they should be. Part of me respects the game for not softening up excessively. But jumping across ropes, timing slingshot fire, and riding moving platforms are just a few things I could see frustrating youngsters. Heck, I grew frustrated with a wall kick part about halfway through, seeing my character almost freeze only to do slow-motion slides from the platform’s edge and tumble!

At least the battling is easy, even with your swords short range. Again, hearts are ample. It’s just a shame that the enemies are uninspired. There’s lots of local fauna that I felt guilty about killing, so I ran past many. Other baddies are cliched, just like the plot.

All this said, I genuinely liked exploring these island levels. Well, for the most part. The map soon loads with tiny icons, and you can’t zoom into it. I could see kids in want of a more user-friendly map, especially for a game that fits under my least favorite catch-all terms, “Metroidvania”. Captain Sabertooth and the Magic Diamond is better than many in this crowded genre. But as I’ve learned in the Switch era, it’s tough to pull off a great one.

This game, while colorful, appears in lower resolution. I noticed this both in docked and handheld mode. A shame as there seems to be some good detail. Perhaps check out the Steam version if graphics are a priority. I do like the measure of vocals, even if they repeat. I think they fit the demographic well and chime in irregularly enough not to break your train of thought. There are numerous audio settings. It’s worth noting that vocals seem to be the only difference between the two playable characters.

Captain Sabertooth and the Magic Diamond has its moments. Still, the challenge fluctuates too much to give it a broad recommendation to youngsters. Without any difficulty settings or even a two-player mode where mom and dad could help out, I could see kids growing tired of this one after a while. For a $34.99 game, you’d prefer to have one where they’d see the end credits roll. So I’d wait for a sale (and possible update) before going on this platform adventure.