This is one of those difficult reviews you sometimes have to write: I wanted to like the game. I liked the premise, I like the publisher. It looked like it’d be a good time. But really, “Pirates: All Aboard!” is making me scream “I KNOW YOU CAN DO BETTER!” at my screen, and it makes me all the more sad because of it.
There’s no story at all. This is a couch versus game at heart, in which you and your opponent(s) choose a pirate vessel and try to knock seven bells out of each other in a timed match. I know it sounds fun, but bear with me here, because the game seriously underdelivers on an already thin promise.
The number of vessels you get to choose from is very, very limited. There are no unlockable vessels, no powerups other than a couple strewn on the stage as you battle, no captains to add a special power to a vessel. The difference in the vessels themselves can be summed up as: size, manoeuvrability, and firepower. Even the last one is a bit irritable as you mostly fire the same thing regardless of vessel, with the only variant being which end of your ship the shot is fired from.
If you think, by looking at the screenshots, that the game at least looks nice, you’d be right: it looks nice on screenshots. In reality, even the water isn’t animated. Now, I know my knowledge of game development is limited, having only released one game, and having been reviewing them professionally for half a decade… but I don’t think animating water would have added much more development time. And it would have made a massive difference. Well, not massive, but it would have shown a bit of care.
Looking at the screenshots, you’d be forgiven for thinking that this is a minimised version of, say, “Sid Meiere’s Pirates!”. But really, that can only be true if you are taking minimizing to the point where even animating the screenshots on the back of the box of Sid Meiere’s 2004 classic title was something you’d only half do.
I usually try to go in-depth with my reviews, to give you guys an overall view of the game in question, but there’s no depth to the game here at all, so being honest, I’m struggling. And it’s not that I don’t love an arcade-inspired experience: games like “Woah! Dave” on the 3DS are a prefect example of arcade fun on a budget. But this game isn’t all that cheap (around US$6 or equivalent in your currency), and I’ve seen, without a shadow of irony or joking, games with more content and depth come out of 48-hour game-jams.
You can do better, Qubic Games. I know you can. “Robonauts” is fantastic and even “Astro Bears Party” is more of a laugh. This is simply a forgettable title that you should pass on.