The Poop Deck
Despite releasing a couple half-way decent games on 3DS (AiRace Speed and AiRace Xeno), Qubic Games is tarnishing their reputation by releasing laughably bad Nintendo Switch games such as Astro Bears Party, Brawl, Mad Carnage , and Grid Mania. Pirates: All Aboard! continues the trend of poor quality and might even be their worst Switch game yet.
It is actually a wonder how Pirates: All Aboard! actually made its way on the Switch eShop as a finished product as there isn’t even a main gameplay mode. Practice, Multiplayer, and Endless are the only options available. Practice is supposedly the “main campaign” mode in which the player controls a pirate ship from a top down view, controls movement with the analog stick, and fires from the right side using the R trigger and left side using the L trigger.
With only the loading screen to act as any sort of tutorial or instruction, the player is left to figure out what is happening through trial and error. Only after playing a few rounds did I start to realize what it is the player is supposed to do. Practice mode places the player in a circle shaped arena with the goal of destroying the three other AI controlled ships. Confusingly, the enemy ships are colored green which makes it seem like they are allies. It wasn’t until they started shooting at me did I realize I am supposed to target them. Controlling the ship also feels like controlling a tank as turning, aiming, and controlling speed is always cumbersome. Each successful attack on the enemy only diminishes a small fraction of health and the player will probably die from accidentally ramming into the shoals through poor controls instead of enemy cannon fire. There are power ups placed throughout the arena but I no clue what any of them do except for the heart icon and replenishes lost health. Like the enemies that seem like friends, these power ups are also placed in blazing rubble so it seems like the player should want to avoid them. The quality of life features in this game are plagued with terrible design choices. Even the AI just circles around aimlessly, does not come after the player, and doesn’t even shoot each other.
This Practice mode tries to spice things up by offering three different ships to choose from, each with strengths and weaknesses spread throughout three categories. However, each ship controls like garbage and I couldn’t tell the difference between one over the other; they even look exactly the same. Upon finishing the practice mode, which is basically just a five minute Horde mode, the game rewards the player with a summary screen of performance grade. But without any leaderboard option to view, this tally feature is absolutely moot.
If you want to drag your friends along for some unenjoyable gameplay, the multiplayer mode is just like the Practice mode only with humans instead of AI. Even when playing solo, however, the player has to sync either the Joy-Cons or Pro Controller every time a new game begins. The load times are also annoying, and the graphics and presentation are a joke. Nothing is animated, the water is just a plain blue background, and the same musical track loops endlessly.
The most entertaining mode, if you can even call it that, found in Pirates: All Aboard! is the Endless option. This vertical auto-runner has the player moving left and right to avoid ramming into the environment while trying to collect gold coins. This mode only last about one minute and the player is shown a summary screen upon Game Over. But without any leaderboard option, there is no point of even showing the player how they performed. Not only is this game not fun, it doesn’t even make sense. In fact, there are not even pirates in this game despite the word “pirate” in the game’s title.
Pirates: All Aboard! was made by a team of four developers at I.V.O. Games and costs $5.99 with an option of a limited time discount if you purchased a qualifying Qubic Game previously. Even with these details in mind, there is nothing fun about this Switch eShop download and continues the downward trend of the embarrassing quality for Qubic Games.
Not As Good As: Age of Booty (360, PS3)
Also Try: Sid Meier’s Pirates
Wait For It: The Secret of Monkey Island 3