In _Treasure of Cutlass Reef_ , the player takes control of a pirate ship as
they battle through twelve stages and a seemingly unending armada, to reach
Cutlass Reef and claim the buried treasure. There are three difficulty levels
in all, each with their own varying degree of difficulty. Each stage contains
a certain number of enemy ships (usually about a half a dozen to begin with)
with the last ship being a flagship, more powerful than the rest.
Regardless of the difficulty setting, as the levels progress more ships will
be added to each level and more will show up on the screen at once as the
levels progress. The ships range from small schooners to the more larger war
galleons, which mostly are the flag ships at first, but as the game progress,
more and more larger ships will appear. There are also enemy pirate ships with
more fire power than the flagships, making them more dangerous.
The gameplay consists of using the arrow buttons to steer the ship and
pressing the space button to fire upon enemy ships. There are two ways to
destroy enemies, the safest way is to fire upon enemies using the ships
cannons while the riskiest way is to approach enemy vessels at close range,
engaging in close quarter battles. Players can also learn about their enemies
with their stats on the screen, showing how much gold is on the ship, their
armor, how many cannons are on the ship and how many men are on the ship.
Destroying enemy ships will drop gold into their floating wrecked hulls, where
the player can simply sail over top of them to collect it. The amount of gold
depends on how much the ship was damaged (i.e. if the ship was bombarded with
an endless cannon assault, the gold will decrease while on the other hand, a
close quarters battle will have more gold then shooting at them).
Players can use this gold to purchase upgrades such as more cannons, crew,
more armor (which will make the ship larger after each upgrade), faster
reloading, more damaging shots and have the ship turn and run faster, making
their ship more powerful over time. Players can also have more upgrade levels
with a higher difficulty setting.