When it comes to scavenging the eShop, you’ll find yourself in a wave of games from different genres and different playstyles. Due to such a vast amount of titles and still many more on the way, you may find yourself unsure of which game to purchase. As we sail towards the competitive ship battling game – Pirates: All Aboard!, does this prove itself to be a worthy contender as part of your Nintendo Switch Library? As we get started, I’d like to give great thanks to Qubic Games for sending us a review code! I’m PhantomZ2, here to sail you through this review.
As there isn’t any story to accompany the voyage through this title, Pirates: All Aboard! makes competitive ship battling its focus. If you’re just learning how to play, there is the Practice mode that pits you against a few other AI ships for about 6 minutes in a reasonably sized arena. You’ll sail forward with X, backward with Y, and use your weapons with your shoulder weapons. There are also power-ups scattered around the stages that you can pick up and use with the press of the control stick. These can increase your turning speed for a short second a or grant you a pretty powerful front cannon.
However, when you’re really ready for combat – you can grab a friend or three and duke it out in Death Matches or a Last Man Standing. Death Matches last between opponents until one of the players have been defeated three times and Last Man Standing follows its name, duking it out until the last ship is standing.
Although in detail, this sounds interesting, in execution it isn’t done so well. For competitive battles, there are only three ships to choose from: a small boat that has great movement and mines that really pack a punch, but extremely low health. A medium sized boat that has average stats, and a large boat that has max health and power, but pretty low mobility. This then becomes an issue with controls and the arena itself. In multiplayer, there are differently sized arenas you can choose from – but depending on what ship you used, it’ll become harder to sail through the terrain. Crash into terrain or maybe even into your opponents? That’ll be some damage you’re taking. And if you’re playing in a bigger arena, it feels as if battles drag on longer than they should – due to only the small ship being fast and the slow movement of the other two. This wouldn’t be a problem once you have the Ram ability – but, like I stated previously, it only increases your speed for about a second and then it goes into a cooldown period. The distance that it takes you forward, isn’t really enough to make the ability feel like it was used in the first place.
However, if you’re not interested in battling at all – there is an Endless mode, where you can sail from left to right around obstacles, fish, and cannonballs while collecting some gold coins. The replay value for this mode is actually pretty high, as I don’t think I’ve had a single level repeat directly in sequence. The only gameplay issue that comes with this mode is how sensitive the controls are. If you thought the ships in multiplayer ran at a snail’s pace, the ship for Endless Mode is so fast that you’ll find yourself accidentally crashing into walls many times.
Although gameplay had quite a few issues, the presentation itself is a major problem overall. Upon startup, you’re dropped into the game and just allowed to choose between modes. Due to impulse, I went to the control pad to navigate through the menus – but you can only use the control stick. The loading times aren’t an issue, but when I pressed a button to continue and was greeted with a black screen for a few seconds – I honestly thought the game was going to crash.
In Practice mode, the timer can start without you ever pressing forward to continue and one visual issue I have is that the water you’re sailing in is entirely stationary except for the bubbles directly on your ship. This issue is also present in Multiplayer and Endless mode, but in Endless mode – when you lose and decide to play again or quit, you’re treated to all of the assets just popping out of existence. However, the music is very pleasing.
I really wanted to enjoy this game, but with the issues present and the bare gameplay – especially if you don’t have someone to play with, there really isn’t much for you. Although I love Endless mode as it gives me the challenge of trying to beat my high score, that isn’t the focus of this game. With that being said, I have to give Pirates: All Aboard! – 1,5 / 5.