It's always fascinating when a developer, having come up with an engaging idea for a puzzle game, tries to justify the premise after the fact with a storyline. Case in point: Mysterious Treasures by Sky Mill. The ugly-cute comic book opening spins a twisted yarn of a lonely fisherman who pulls in a map to the Island of Treasure. The legendary pirate Green Beard once tried to loot the trove, not realizing the curse of the Red Ghost: that anyone who takes more cursed coins than happy coins would find their ship sunk and their bodies forever possessed by the ghost to serve as guardian of the treasure.
Got that? Okay, what it means is thus: The game is played on a grid littered with coins of both positive and negative value. Using the mouse, the player moves the marker chip along the horizontal axis to a box with one or more coins in it. These are then positively or negatively added to the player's score. The CPU then moves along the vertical axis to do the same. The game ends when all the coins are picked up or the player/CPU has no moves to make. The player must end with both a positive score and a score higher than the CPU. If not, the player loses a ship. Lose all five ships, and ye be cursed, matey.
Mysterious Treasures is quite the compelling game. It has the feel of the best kinds of strategic board games: rules simple enough to let players dive right in, but ones that ensure a skilled player can always triumph over the luck of the draw. The English translation of the text isn't 100%, which means players might have to play a couple rounds to fully understand the mechanics, but it's a small price to pay. Also, though it's a concept that cries out for it, there is sadly no two-player option, leaving the hit and miss CPU as your only opponent. Whatever flaws Mysterious Treasure may have, however, are outweighed by its strengths. It's a simple little game that makes for big fun.
Similar in concept to Riding Shotgun, also from the same developers, this version of the game is actually more simplified and casual. If you find it too easy or plain, give Riding Shotgun a try for more complexity in the gameplay department.