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Monkey Pirates (Wii U)

Review: Monkey Pirates (Wii U eshop) (NA Region) Monkey15

(C) 2014 Henchmen Studio

Review by Rukiafan and SKTTR.

Monkey Pirates is a fast comical topdown multiplayer action game for up to five players, a rapid-fire cannonball contest against your friends in a variety of customizable modes, but is this game as fun as a barrel of monkeys or is it just a barrel of banana peels? Continue reading this North American review of this game to find out!

It's welcoming you with a nice hand-drawn Carribean setting and a pretty Monkey Island-like title track, so there's definately a good atmosphere from the get-go, however the visuals could use a little more variety.

The main menu is a very introducing one, with an instruction manual and a playable tutorial being the first options, followed by the singleplayer challenges, and finally the main portion of the game: the versus mode. You can play these in order to make sure you're ready for the main deal of the game or jump into the versus action straight away.

One thing straight ahead: The game always takes place on the tv screen, which is unfortunate since Off-TV Play is a very cool feature in a large percentage of Wii U titles, but it's certainly not game-breaking. The GamePad can be used for navigating the menus, and it works as a controller in singleplayer. For multiplayer though everyone needs a Wiimote. The GamePad is also needed for the five-player Sea King mode (but more on that later).

Review: Monkey Pirates (Wii U eshop) (NA Region) Monkey11

You see your ship from an overhead zoomed out view and steer left and right to turn around. Unfortunately there's no casual control (press up to move up, press down to move down, etc.) I know a lot of people that have trouble with left/right steering from a topdown perspective. For this reason they couldn't get into the game. Other than that the controls are fairly basic with one button firing the cannons from the front and the sides, and the other button casting the anchor which makes cool drifts possible. Overall the controls could've been much better, but they are functional.

One of the unique mechanics in games with sailing ships is the wind: There's a wind radar around your ship and its colors indicate the wind strength, and so you have to always keep an eye on it and use it to your advantage which adds a fresh tactical component to the classic arcade gameplay and is a superb feature that most players should enjoy!

Crates may emerge from the depths of the sea containing one of fifteen different items that give you more offense, defense or something else instantly like the hilarious Coconut Juice that makes the screen and music go dizzy. (You can deactivate items you don't like.) Take three hits and you sink and lose points and your items, only to respawn seconds later. The winner will be determined when the time is up or a certain score is reached. Some stats are also saved.

But before getting into combat, you and up to three of your friends (or CPU controlled characters) get to choose from four different monkey types (long range shot, increased handling, faster firing rate, more speed) and equip one of eleven badges (to be invulnearable to certain attacks or have a little special power), then select one of nine small-sized battlefields all with their own theme (like an open ocean, a beach, a reef, islands, or icy fjords). Some even have hazards like erupting volcanos or dangerous water streams. You can also select the items and the time or score limit.

Review: Monkey Pirates (Wii U eshop) (NA Region) Monkey14

There are four multiplayer modes: "Stand by the Board" is the obligatory timed deathmatch mode where you try to not be killed by others and sink as many ships as you can. "Jolly Roger" is the classic capture-the-flag mode and "Banana Race" is a frenzy battle over emerging banana barrels.

The GamePad specific "Sea King" mode can and should be played with five players. Four players will duke it out like in the other modes, but the player on the GamePad has a special role. He's been given three deeds from which to select one. This deed needs to be fulfilled by the GamePad player to score points. Only then the next set of deed choices become available. A deed can be something like "Player 2 will reach 30 bananas next" To fulfill this deed the GamePad player can select items from his menu and give them to a player. These items need some reloading time before they can be used again.

Unfortunately there's not much variety in the choice of deeds. They repeat over and over again just with different numbers. A shame the most interesting mode is so shallow when it has so much potential. Also, sometimes, even when a deed is fulfilled the game takes a while to recognize it which is pretty random and certainly some kind of bug. Speaking of bugs, there is one major bug in this mode, where you cannot fulfill a certain deed when you're playing with less than 4 ships (human or cpu). There are also several bugs that cause the game to lockup and freeze so an update or patch is desperately needed!

Having said everything about multiplayer let's have a quick look at the small singleplayer part of the game. The Challenge Mode tests your skills in four different missions, each with their own top ten highscore list. Score certain points to earn medals and unlock extras such as Character Profiles and Art Gallery. It's more of an extended tutorial and should be seen as a bonus. That said, a whole lotta more singleplayer challenges were definately welcome, aye!

Review: Monkey Pirates (Wii U eshop) (NA Region) Medium17

On a final note there's something to be said about the English translation. It's one of those games were in one sentence it says "canoonbals" and in the next it's "cononballs" or something. The developers should definately proofread all text in the game again. For some people the myriad of spelling mistakes add to the monkey and pirate charme, but for others it comes across as simply unpolished.

The music in the game is superb ane fits the game well and is easily the best aspect of the entire experience, but it's not always perfect and sometimes cuts-out during the game, but this issue is very rare.


With decent albeit flawed gameplay, and a superb soundtrack Monkey Pirates could have been a great game, but control issues and a multitude of bugs hold the game back in a big way. It still might be worth checking out if you want a quirky multiplayer experience, but be forewarned that this game has some serious flaws!


★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆ 5.8/10

Last edited by Ichigofan on February 11th 2016, 2:23 pm; edited 1 time in total

Review: Monkey Pirates (Wii U eshop) (NA Region) Rukiafan7

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on August 18th 2014, 11:59 amClαππαd
Nice review once again boss!
on August 18th 2014, 5:51 pmRagnarok
Great review SKTTR and Rukiafan!
on August 20th 2014, 12:19 pmMs_Kinomoto
Um...nice review Smile
Himawari Chan
on August 21st 2014, 2:15 pmHimawari Chan
Nice review!
on September 2nd 2014, 7:18 pmDigiDestined
How much hard drive space do I need to download this game?
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