(Wii U eShop)

Monkey Pirates (Wii U eShop)

Game Review

Monkey Pirates Review

Europe PAL Version

Posted by Martin Watts

Banana boat

Despite all the doom and gloom that currently — and unfairly — surrounds the Wii U at the moment, it hasn't stopped indie developers from flocking to the system to release their games. Moreover, a good proportion of developers have even designed their games to specifically take advantage of the system; one only has to look at Knapnok’s Spin the Bottle: Bumpie’s Party for a prime example of how it’s done.

Monkey Pirates follows in the shoes of previous efforts in attempting to provide an engaging, feature-packed local multiplayer experience, and one which makes use the GamePad. While the game does manage to achieve the former, the GamePad implementation is sadly lacking — which is a real shame as you can see when playing it that much more could have been done.

From the moment you set sail in Monkey Pirates, it’s abundantly clear that the game was designed to be enjoyed primarily as a multiplayer experience. While there is a single-player portion to the game, it’s relatively light and offers only a small selection of different challenges for you to complete. These amount to little more than simple tasks such as destroying as many ships as possible.

This is arguably the best way to get familiar with the mechanics of the game especially given that the tutorial and how to play segments are unnecessarily bogged down in detail. The latter comprises a whopping 11 pages of text, which is downright excessive for a game that is actually very easy to play. Controlling your ship is dead simple: you view the playing field from a top-down perspective and must utilise the wind in order to manoeuvre. As a system it works well, and although some players may benefit from a certain wind direction depending on where they spawn on the map, it doesn't result in an advantage so big that it’s unfair.

As stated above, local multiplayer is essentially the core experience to be had in Monkey Pirates, and it provides a relatively chaotic experience by comparison. Up to four players (or one player and three AI opponents) can battle it out across a range of different modes, one of which uses the GamePad.

The classic deathmatch mode doesn't need much of an explanation: kill the most and die the least if you want to win. There are a range of different maps to choose from, and power-ups play a considerable role in your success. These typically improve your offensive and defensive capabilities, although you can also choose a load-out bonus at the start of each game. It’s nothing revolutionary in terms of options, but the gameplay is certainly different and entertaining enough for Monkey Pirates to potentially make a regular appearance during your local multiplayer sessions.

Jolly Roger mode revolves around acquiring the titular famous flag (by either being the first to sink a player or by sinking someone who already has it) and holding on to it as long as possible. The bearer of the Jolly Roger can’t pick up power-ups, but their shots are twice as powerful, adding a certain tactical element to the gameplay; rushing in all guns blazing may not be the best strategy if you’re after the flag. The last of the classic multiplayer modes centres around hoarding bananas and ending the match with the highest amount. Losing your ship means dropping your entire stash for someone else to then pick up, resulting in a potentially very close game right up until the last second. Overall, the selection of classic multiplayer modes offers enough variety to hold your interest — provided you have friends to play with.

Multiplayer can be played with up to three AI opponents, although the game sadly falls short in this area. Most of the time, the AI puts up a decent fight and will battle for the objective. Other times, it seemingly breaks; frequently an AI ship will stop dead in its tracks or continuously sail into a nearby island over and over again. Regardless of the quality of the AI though, this really is the sort of game that is best enjoyed in the company of others, as you won't find it that entertaining alone.

Monkey Pirates' GamePad-centric multiplayer mode is also a bit disappointing, if only because it could have been much more. Known as Sea King, this mode presents the GamePad player with a list of criteria for the other players to meet, such as ensuring that a specific player collects so many bananas before the rest. The Sea King can interfere with the game to a certain degree, providing power-ups to certain players and doing so with the goal of meeting his or her chosen objective. The only problem with all this is that it doesn't matter whether they actually achieve this or not; the Sea King's overall score is not included in the overall rankings, meaning that it has very little meaning at the end of it all.

Moreover, many of the game's maps feature a wealth of hazards, including the likes of typhoons and active volcanoes. You can't help but think when playing that the GamePad player could have been given control of these with the goal of destroying all players before the timer ran out. The GamePad input would have been the perfect tool for conjuring up storms or even AI-controlled enemy ships. That's just an example of a more immersive gameplay experience that could have been had, and by comparison the effort in Monkey Pirates feels relatively conservative and limited.


Monkey Pirates is a good local multiplayer experience on Wii U, but one that doesn't make the most of the bespoke functionality the system has to offer. Moreover, the game falls down in other key areas, such as a limited single-player mode and AI that is prone to breaking. These issues aside, Monkey Pirates proves to be entertaining and varied when played with friends, and while it's not likely to dominate an evening of multiplayer gaming, it's a strong enough effort to make an appearance at some point during the night.

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User Comments (15)



ManateeBlubber said:

Monkey Pirates... cool concept ruined by a decent game. Just like Free Birds and The Nut Job, great concepts that were ruined by a terrible movie.



BoltedArc said:

Had the dev put online multiplayer in, it would have been a hit but sadly he/she didn't and while this game has potential its just not good enough to buy if your a solo gamer which alot of us are!



Captain_Gonru said:

This isn't the same game we got a trailer for some time ago, is it? I recall that had monkeys as pirates, but also other animals. And I thought it was based on some anime. Anyone else remember that?



PinkSpider said:

I will get this for my boy so we can play together at some point
If it reduces In price or preferably they patch it to fix some of the issues, would be a bonus



cyrus_zuo said:

Played at GDC and was so disappointed. You watch it and you think "THIS is going to be fun." You play it and you're like "THIS has SO MUCH potential, but the multiplayer game design is really lackluster."
It will just make you wish for Bomberman or another great party game. A different, less haphazard game design structure and this game could have been a lot of fun. As is, it felt like a missed opportunity.
I hoped the final game might be more interesting, but the review doesn't make me believe it is.



Mytoemytoe said:

The first line of the review says that independent developers are flocking towards the Wii U despite the doom and gloom surrounding the console. In point of fact, so many independent game developers are coming to Wii U because the lack of third-party content (the doom and gloom of the system, if you ask me) has opened a huge hole in the marketplace for content like Shovel Knight to be exposed to mass audiences.



Pod said:

The art on display here is terrific. I may have to give it a spin, as I mostly play multiplayer games and my Wii U these days, and this seems to be its strong point.



Pod said:

I see this as a good thing. Many indie developers grew big during Wii and DS, and Nintendo's fans still appreciate theirs efforts.

When WayForward delivers top shelf entertainment with the Mighty Switch Force series, newcomers like Yacht Club makes something enormous like Shovel Knight, and games from Shinen are reaching the levels of visual finish they are, I see these as worthy heirs to the scene after over-produced AAA design-by-commitee products have left.

Many of these games could release in boxed editions if they wanted to. Ducktales and Max and the Magic Marker already did.



ICHIkatakuri said:

@Pod I totally agree the last few years of my xbox360's time under the telly was spent totally on the live arcade games available. Trials HD, Super Meat Boy, Limbo, Iron Brigade, Splosion man and fez are examples of innovation no developer of full priced games was willing to take. Nintendo did the right thing courting indie devs early on, it swayed me to buy my Wii u day one! Now we are beginning to see these games completed en mass, hell even I'm trying to make one the Wii u is that exciting to me



Azikira said:

I honestly want to get this game, but I hope the devs decide to patch it up, or add to the Sea King mode. It'd go from being an 'Okay' game to a 'Good' one for sure!

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