Tuesday, April 17

Review: Pirates - All Aboard! [Nintendo Switch eShop]

With a ton of multiplayer games available on Switch already it can be tough to differentiate yourself. Most tend to fall into general categories like shooters or puzzle games but the more mechanically different games are within those distinctions the more they’re able to set themselves apart. On paper selecting pirates as a theme tends to stir up some excitement, with thoughts of exciting ship-to-ship battles and plundering. Unfortunately, Pirates: All Aboard does very little to explore or take full advantage of its theme, making for somewhat lean thrills and fun.

For the most part this is a purely multiplayer-focused title, and that doesn’t have to be a bad thing. In single-player you have an option to hit the Practice mode where you’ll choose which boat you want and then play against a few bot ships, trying to outmaneuver and then sink them. This is at least good for getting yourself oriented and understanding the different power-ups but overall since the game is pretty simple there’s not much to learn. There is an alternative Endless Mode you can play, but honestly that’s just a very simple mobile-esque game where you try to steer your ship through rocks and wreckage in search of coins and the longest run you can manage.

If you’re able to get up to 4 people together there’s a better chance of fun and you can play in the Multiplayer mode, choosing between a times Death Match mode to see who can rack up the most kills or Last Man Standing which can be a bit more strategic. Ship choice can be vital as varying degrees of mobility, firepower, and health will dictate your style of play. You can go for more of a hit and run strategy in smaller ships all the way up to tanking it out with guns blazing. In general you’ll want to keep an eye out for power-ups to grab, which have a variety of effects and will slowly cycle to other ones if you spot one but don’t prefer what it has to offer. The issue is that once you’re played the game for about 10 minutes you’ve seen pretty much all there is, the key is whether you and your friends find it engaging. If so, great, but there’s no denying it’s very limited and enjoyment will have to be about what you bring to it, not necessarily what it has to offer.

While its theme obviously holds a great deal of potential Pirates: All Aboard does very little to take advantage of it. The Endless Mode is a throwaway addition, though I suppose it at least then offers something to people who buy the game and are looking for something to do when they don’t have any friends over to play with beyond play against bots. The real issue, though, is that the cornerstone experience in multiplayer simply isn’t all that diverse or interesting. Any multiplayer game has the potential for fun, certainly, but when so much of that responsibility is thrown on the people playing it without providing much in the way of means it’s a tough sell, even at a budget price, when there are so many affordable options on the Switch already.

Score: 5.5

  • Pirates, as a theme, immediately brings some excitement
  • Mechanically it plays well
  • A budget-friendly price

  • In general a very bare bones package, making limited use of the promise of the theme
  • Endless Mode is a mixed blessing as it adds something to do for single-player but is also akin to a weak mobile game
  • Far too quickly you’ll have seen all there is to do in the game and the responsibility for enjoying it is thrown back to the players