Take to the seas and lob cannon balls against your friends while commanding a hearty pirate ship in an arena-based party game from the developers at Interactive Stone. From Kraken infested waters, to avoiding the lure of Sirens at sea, there’s a bounty of challenging modes to show who’s truly the Sea King.
Sea King employs friends to gather ‘round and engage in naval combat on the high seas in local arena combat. Players will first select one of 8 absolutely unique pirate ships. These ships each take on a very distinct theme and are quite beautifully crafted. From my personal favorite the “Doomy” which is cast in black and green colors and looks much akin to a ship you’d see pulled from Pirates of the Caribbean, to ships like the Sea Horse that provides an ode to Viking culture adorned with shields and sporting a red and white theme. The Anubis ship is another favorite of mine, and as the name beckons, it is entirely Egyptian themed with a large statue of Anubis near the helm. Each of these ships is presented in a chibi-style, so don’t expect accurate proportions or anything, but that’s precisely why I really liked the style here.
Once you’ve selected your vessel of choice, you’ll find yourself staring down the barrel of game modes to play in. There are 12 events in all, and I was pleasantly surprised at the variety here. Several standouts for me included a micro-Battle Royale mode in which a Kraken and its tentacles envelop the already tight arena quite quickly leaving but one ship standing. Siren’s Song places a vixen of the seas in your arena and when she sings your ship will be tossed around wildly without your control. It’s a nifty mechanic to really throw off your aim. Much akin to all good sea-faring games, there’s also a Fishing mode, where you’ll have a large net attached to the back of your ship while being asked to collect as many fish within the arena before time runs out. Each time you’re destroyed though, you lose all that you’ve collected. This mode in particular, while fun in short bursts, quickly devolved into a mad dash in the last few seconds to really grab some fish and knock out my friends.
Gameplay as you can expect, pits your ship against your friends or AI Bots on the seas in a single-screen arena. Your 4 face buttons act as each of your cannons, and pressing one fires it from the corresponding spot on the boat with a short reload time thereafter. While this method is certainly functional, I did often find myself half confused as I frantically steered my ship around with ease forgetting my orientation and firing off the wrong side of my pirate ship. When a cannon ball hits another ship, they are destroyed and then respawned nearly immediately in modes that allow it. It’s as straightforward as you can get, which is fine, but I would have loved to see some variety of cannonballs or other weapons available.
Sea King looks quite nice with its cartoony and vibrant aesthetics. There’s a lot of little animated features that crop up in each mode, and each ship offering a distinct color scheme ensures you’re never getting lost to where you are, which is something I’ve found can be a pain point in this genre, so it’s always a positive note when you can track your character, or sea faring vessel in this title. Sound effects and music are pretty typical for a pirate themed game, but the one-liner quips became obnoxious about 3 rounds in, so thankfully these can be disabled via the Options menu.
Where the game falters however is in creating any progression or customization for players. What you see is what you get as far as I found during my time with the game. Apart from picking your name to appear above your ship, there’s no further ship customization or any unlocks to be had. Furthermore, unlike the majority of arena games I’ve played, I was slightly taken aback to find no custom match option available. I personally would have enjoyed the ability to modify some rule sets, such as number of cannonball hits before a ship is destroyed, or the timer length in Fishing, or the rate of enclosure in the Kraken mode. These custom matches are what generally keep games in this genre breathing for much longer when players tire of the standardized set of rules, but this omission is pretty glaring here.
Sea King lands itself in a fairly populated ocean of arena games on the platform, and while the visuals and theme are very nice, there’s not a lot of wind in the sails to keep this one around long term. Still, for only 5 bucks you could do a lot worse.
Sea King Review
- Graphics - 6.5/106.5/10
- Sound - 4/104/10
- Gameplay - 4/104/10
- Lasting Appeal - 3/103/10
Final Thoughts: MEDIOCRE
Sea King is a pirate ship themed arena game built for local competitive play. Visually the game finds its footing with cute chibi-stylized ships and environments. There’s a very solid selection of game modes, and many of them are highly unique, but a lack of a customized match mode means you’ll have to stick with what was set out for you. Gameplay is super simple – almost to a detriment, and there’s no progression or unlockables. If you’re in the mood to add another party arena game to your library, Sea King is fine, but it comes at face value for the price.
Alex has been actively gaming since the release of the Nintendo. Turning passion into profession, he’s spent just over a decade in game development, and is currently the Creative Director at a studio.