Monkey Pirates, from Henchman Studio, is a naval combat multiplayer game for up to four players taking up the role of one of four unique simian captains, each with their own special abilities.
There are two game modes available, multiplayer and challenge, with the latter being the “single player” component, but seeing as this is primarily a local multiplayer game, the challenge mode could be classified more as an extended tutorial. These challenges test your sailing skills, shooting accuracy and your ability to drift (dropping your anchor in order to quickly slow and change direction) and serve as a good way of improving your skill level in each area.
Sailing is a simple and familiar process. Each direction on the compass surrounding your ship has a different strength of wind which varies your speed greatly. Red brings you to a complete stop, green sets a normal speed, whereas yellow sets you to full speed. Changing tack to make use of the best wind to get you into a firing position.
The multiplayer on the other hand is quite extensive with nine completely different maps within which you can compete in three different multiplayer modes. Stand by the Board is a free for all battle where you have to utilise the multiple items, power ups and unique skills to defeat your friends. Jolly Roger mode has the first pirate to shoot down an opponent becomes the Jolly Roger, who then has to defend themselves against the others from that point onwards, but without the benefit of power ups which makes picking your fights a necessity in this mode. Finally, Banana Race is a score system where you need to collect as many banana barrels as possible. Each enemy killed drops their bananas, so it is essential once again that you pick your fights and decide whether a contested barrel is worth challenging. The winner in these games is decided by who scores the most points.
Each game mode also contains a variety of offensive, defensive and arena based power ups that make each map that bit more interesting. Offensive and defensive range from bouncing bombs, broadsides, speed boosts, armour and even oars which negate all wind speed requirements. Arena power ups are a bit more varied in their influence. These change the arena in many different ways. Typhoon’s swap all players position in the map, Coconut juice reverse all your controls, where voodoo masks rip all existing offensive and defensive power ups from your enemies. Picking up the three varied types of power ups can completely change the course of a game in a matter of minutes.
Thankfully, unlike some other local multiplayer games I have played, Monkey Pirates has a distinctly intelligent AI which can be applied should you wish to have a go when less than a full complement of friends are available.
Monkey pirates has taken the naval combat from older games, such as Sid Meier’s Pirates! And Overboard, and redefined and polished them into an enjoyable, if somewhat limited, couch multiplayer.
Thanks to Xbox and Henchman Studio for supporting TiX
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