Ahoy, matey! It’s time to take to the seas in Pirates: All Aboard! for Nintendo Switch… or is it? Well, avast ye! We’ve got answers for you that may have you saying, “Shiver me timbers!”
Okay, enough with the pirate-talk… for now.
Pirates: All Aboard! is a top-down competitive battle game designed for both solo and multiplayer play. There are basically two modes. Battle Arena involves steering your ship around and taking out other boats, while Endless has you piloting your ship through an unending series of obstacles to collect treasure and get as far as you can without crashing.
Battle Arena can be played solo or with up to three friends, locally. You only have an option between three ships, which have their own pros and cons with health, mobility, and firepower. When playing by yourself, it is called Practice mode, and it is just okay. It allows you to hone your skills against computer AI ships, but it gets old fairly quickly. Multiplayer is honestly where the game shines. Just like with other four-player battle games, you can probably imagine the intense fun you can have fighting it out with friends. As you control your speed, direction, and canons, you’ll have at least 30 minutes to an hour of fun, but that is about it.
The Endless mode is only available as a single-player challenge. Controls are simple, as you just navigate right or left through an auto-scrolling background reminiscent of older arcade racers or flight-based shooters like Spy Hunter or 1942. The waterways change each time you play, too, so you never know which type of obstacle is coming next. If you enjoy a challenge, this can definitely suck you in, but you’ll only ever compete on your own Switch, as there are no online leaderboards to help you brag to your friends.
The presentation of Pirates: All Aboard! is also just “meh.” The ships and maps won’t blow you away, as they are somewhat blurry in their cell-shaded style. Even so, they adequately represent their real-world counterparts for the sake of gameplay. There are also only seven maps that are simply named things like Small 1, Small 2, Big 1, etc., basically just increasing in size and obstacles. Music and sound effects fit the theme, but they also get old after with under an hour of play.
So is Pirates: All Aboard! actually worth your time, or is it just shark bait?
The lack of a single-player story, online leaderboards, and lackluster options for ships and maps make this a tough buy, even at its regular low price of $5.99. If it goes on sale, maybe try picking it up for a quick play with local friends, but it is incredibly difficult to recommend at full price. For now, it’s probably best if Pirates: All Aboard! walks the plank.
GAME: Pirates: All Aboard!
MSRP: $5.99 US
RATING: E for Everyone
OBTAINED: Code from developers/publishers for press purposes