Never would I have imagined myself navigating a ship through toilet water, avoiding floating turds while trying to collect stars… but here we are. For that’s exactly what I found myself doing in the action-centric Smash Boats: Waterlogged Edition. Don’t pooh-pooh it based on the anecdote alone however, for there’s more to it than that, and such jovial goings on are a part of its charm. The ultimate question is, in a sea full of games, should you hop aboard Smash Boats Waterlogged Edition or wait for the next offering to pass by instead?
Let’s begin by explaining what’s at the core of Smash Boats Waterlogged Edition. It’s an unashamedly arcade style experience in which boat-based antics are front and centre – don’t expect anything on the same scale as Sea of Thieves however. Forget oceans and the high seas because the boats here are like toys. As such you’ll be wading through suitably sized water-filled household items, including the likes of a bath, a children’s swimming pool, a toy chest and a shower. The purpose of which is to bash the heck out of any vessels who dare sail the same waters as you and earn stars to progress.
There are ten levels spread out across six different areas, with the majority of them challenging you to survive waves, while a select few are special Mayday events thrown in to change things up. There’s plenty to get stuck into and keep you going for a fair amount of hours. For the horde style levels, you just need to eliminate all ships that spawn in each of the five waves and collect up to five stars in the process. Due to the enemies only having eyes for you it’s quite intense as you’re targeted immediately from all angles, but this adds to excitement.
Your steering skills are going to be put to the test throughout as you navigate yourself out of trouble, with a couple of handy features at your disposal. Naturally, the boat you choose will turn like a tank, but a fast turn button helps, as does the option to submerge in order to avoid incoming attacks. Fortunately, you’re also armed with the ability to ram – either backwards or forwards – into other boats, enabling you to deplete their health bars and sink them. If you don’t do this, then chances are you will be decimated in no time. Making good use of the boat’s special ability is crucial though.
Now, depending which boat you choose from the sixteen included, the special ability will offer different benefits and is useful for fending off certain enemies. Initially, just Geeky is available; a boat that looks like a school bus and has a pencil strapped to it, with a slightly longer distanced ram being the (rather lame) special move it possesses. Don’t worry though, as they get much better. Further boats unlock as you defeat certain amounts of enemies and the pacing is about right as I often reached the milestones before growing tired of a particular vessel.
I love how varied the offerings are and each special manoeuvre they’re equipped with is great – once you’re familiar with how it works, of course. Jawsy is a close range specialist with a real bite to its front weapon; Batty swings round a lethal bat; Monty is a knight that sends off an axe for a multi-hit ricocheting attack; Boxy reaches far with an extendable boxing glove; and Blasty brings an explosive mine to the pool party. That’s just a handful of the standouts, and although it’s quite tempting to stick with your favourite for the duration, you may have to switch up your choices to counter the threat posed by your foes.
If Smash Boats merely sent a load of generic ramming boats your way, it’d get stupidly boring in no time, right? Well, fear not, as all kinds of bizarre ships sail in your territory, coming prepared to fight in many different ways. Some do just ram, but the more interesting types have a revolver, sharp claws, or even a laser. Other enemies include a massive pirate ship with cannons, sneaky submarines, and a vessel that blows itself up once nearby.
As previously mentioned, Mayday events feature every so often and these are geared up more to test your navigation skills. This is where the turds arrive. Genuinely there’s an event called Feces Pieces, where you’re sailing around a toilet bowl surrounded by floaters, trying to collect all ten stars by ramming the harmless star-carrying boats. And if you think that’s crossing a line, wait until a later level in which you’re getting peed on and tangled up in manky hair. To be fair, the Maydays aren’t all gross, for another sees you on a pool table getting smacked around by balls – billiard balls, before your imagination runs wild. It’s very silly in the best possible way, but it’s probably not to everyone’s taste.
Smash Boats Waterlogged Edition isn’t without frustration and numerous times I’ve found the boat flipping upside down after being rammed, rendered – momentarily – as a sitting duck. That’s not ideal when everyone’s after you and even worse given how a particularly annoying enemy type has unlimited rams without a cooldown. Once you get cornered, it’s painfully tricky to escape unscathed and failure looms. It would be more palatable alongside friends, however the Xbox version doesn’t allow co-op nor includes the party mode as of yet – Nintendo Switch only for the meantime.
On the whole, Smash Boats Waterlogged Edition should provide you with a smashing time in all kinds of water-themed arenas. The choice of boats and differing enemy types bring a slight element of strategy to the fun crashing and bashing, with a good selection of abilities on offer for both sides. While the entire thing could last you a fair few hours, given that sixty levels are included, you will certainly find more enjoyment from dipping in and out for short sessions. I also feel slightly short-changed by the inability to play with friends, but here’s hoping the feature is added post-launch.
Hop aboard Smash Boats Waterlogged Edition for a light-hearted, but quite intense battling experience. Just watch out for the turds!
Smash Boats Waterlogged Edition is currently available from the Xbox Store