Smash Boats – Review
Follow Genre: Arcade game
Developer: Smash House Games
Publisher: Smash House Games
Platform: Switch, Xbox One
Tested on: Switch

Smash Boats – Review

Site Score
Good: Easy to pick up and play
Bad: Infantile gross-out humor
User Score
(3 votes)
Click to vote
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Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)

If you’re joining us from the USA, you might be wondering why we’re only getting around to reviewing Smash Boats just now. After all, didn’t this game hit the Switch eShop in February of last year? Well, it did in America, but it seems like the titular boats took some time to sail across the ocean, as the game only arrived here in Europe (and Japan) recently. The year-and-a-half gap between the US release and the EU one did mean that we’re getting an expanded version of the game right off the bat: Smash Boats didn’t have co-op or multiplayer when it originally launched in the USA. Even if you’ve already played Smash Boats last year, you might want to read on to find out if the game is worth revisiting with these new modes. And if you’re completely oblivious to what the game has to offer, well, you’ve come to the right place too.


There isn’t any story to be found in Smash Boats, but there doesn’t really need to be one either as this is purely an arcade game.


While Smash Boats doesn’t boast the most impressive graphics, developer Smash House Games managed to do a lot within the game’s self-imposed limitations. The boat designs are fantastic, from a floating school bus to a bird-like creature riding a rubber dinghy. The various environments are imaginative and varied, although some of the gross-out humor didn’t quite land with us. A stage set in a dirty toilet bowl, complete with floating turds might get a giggle out of the eight-year-old crowd, and we don’t expect Smash Boats to be a serious affair given how ridiculous the premise is in the first place, but we have to say that it does limit the game’s overall appeal somewhat. (Granted, it’s not as bad as whatever Pooplers was intended to be.) On the upside, Smash Boats’ performance was fantastic, both in single-player and multiplayer, with a consistent frame rate. This is one of those titles where the screenshots don’t really do the game justice as you really need to see Smash Boats in motion to appreciate how it looks. The quick pace of the game means you don’t really have time to focus on the details as you’ll need to focus on dodging enemies and obstacles.


Given how fast-paced and frenzied the on-screen action can get, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that Smash Boats has a matching soundtrack. The music feels energetic and underlines the chaos that unfolds. Likewise, the sound effects present are the perfect companions to the cartoonish violence, with buzzsaws and explosions sounding exactly as they should. Of course, if you’re playing a game like this in multiplayer, the sounds are going to be drowned out by the shouts of players, but it’s still nice to see that effort was put into giving Smash Boats a convincing soundscape, and it does come into its own when tackling the campaign solo.


Naval warfare is something we’ve seen before in video games, of course, but Smash Boats takes the idea in a completely new direction. An arcade game at its core, in Smash Boats up to four players can take control of toy boats and take on one another in arenas like a flooded toy chest, a swimming pool, and even a toilet. Boats are equipped with an arsenal of comical weapons ranging from massive boxing gloves to battering rams, which are used to trigger obstacles in the environment or outright attack opponents. The ultimate goal of Smash Boats’ main campaign is to take down all enemy ships, of course, but you should also aim to collect the stars that litter the stages. The game’s campaign can be played as a single-player title or in co-op, but playing against the AI simply isn’t as fun as gathering friends to engage in the frenzied and chaotic multiplayer chaos that is party mode. It’s a title with a low entry barrier too, so while it’s not necessarily the most strategic or competitive title out there, what Smash Boats does offer is pure casual fun. Note that we don’t say clean fun -the game’s reliance on potty humor can get a bit much at times.

While Smash Boats is undeniably at its best in multiplayer, the meat of the game is actually in the campaign mode. Here things gradually become more difficult as AI-controlled enemies become increasingly more effective at targeting you and dodging your attacks. The campaign comprises sixty levels spread over six ‘pools’. Progress is tied to collecting stars, as you’ll need to “buy” your way to new pools and additional vessels. With each boat offering a unique playstyle, there are quite a variety of ways to tackle the campaign, both by yourself or in co-op. Randomized power-ups keep things fresh and ensure replayability even further. These range from classics like shields and health boosts, but of course, the more outlandish ones are far more fun to use. Our favorite powerup involved collecting letters that spell out the word SMASH. Once you do so, a massive game-winning nuke annihilates every enemy in sight, which never gets old. Then there are the so-called Mayday levels. When these activate, your boat is taken to a special bonus stage that is filled with obstacles and explosions but also with a disproportionate amount of stars. You only have a limited time to grab as many stars as possible. There are two of these Mayday levels available in each of the six campaign pools, and they are probably the most challenging aspect that Smash boats has to offer.

There are a couple of areas where we feel that Smash Boats could have definitely been improved. More gameplay variety -especially in multiplayer- would have been welcome as the game is fun for a handful of rounds, but we feel like it could grow stale after a while. Of course, Smash Boats isn’t going to be a title that you’ll play for hours on end but it is one that you might find yourself returning to from time to time for a couple of quick multiplayer matches. As it stands, multiplayer party mode comes in two varieties: one where you collect as many coins as possible and another where you aim to sink the most pool balls. The core mechanics definitely have the potential for more minigame variety, so this reeks of missed opportunity. Another thing that feels missing here is an online mode. Multiplayer is only available locally and of course, seeing your friends’ reactions in real-time is infinitely more fun than hearing them yell profanities into a headset after you unleash the SMASH nuke, but we still felt like this was another missed opportunity. Note that the absence of these features shouldn’t necessarily be a deterrent. Given Smash Boat’s relatively low price point of a mere €11.50/$11.99, we feel that the game definitely has enough to offer, but we can also see the potential for a more expansive sequel.


We don’t expect Smash Boats to blow anyone’s mind, as the core idea isn’t particularly innovative or original. However, the execution of that core idea is solid and Smash Boat’s low barrier of entry ensures that anyone can have fun with it. We would’ve loved it if there had been more variety in gameplay modes or if an online component had been present, but given the game’s overall scope and price point, you’re still getting plenty of bang for your buck here. The only real thing that irked us about Smash Boats was the infantile humor, but your mileage may vary on this.

VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.3/10 (3 votes cast)
VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: +1 (from 1 vote)
Smash Boats - Review, 9.3 out of 10 based on 3 ratings

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