Review – Pirates of Dark Water, The (SNES 1994)

I hacked my SNES Classic! What that means is that now I can play the SNES I want with authentic controllers and in HD! That also means that this is the first review on the site that is not played on the original system, with that being said we still did not use the save function on the SNES Classic which is important especially when we are talking about a co-op beat ’em up with finite continues.
Pirates of Dark Water was developed by Sunsoft in 1994 and based on It is based on a 90’s cartoon of the same name so the setting is pretty interesting.  I was immediately optimistic about this game since I love the genre and Sunsoft has made other great games in the past like Batman and Blaster Master for the NES.
196903-the-pirates-of-dark-water-snes-screenshot-character-selectAs you can see on the picture above the player select is nearly identical to the one in Knights of the Round, as in we have 3 characters with various speeds and strengths. These characters have most of the moves you would expect from a beat ’em up of this time. Not only do they have quick attack combos, strong attacks, super moves and blocking like in Knights of the Round/King of Dragons but also grappling and throwing like in Streets of Rage/Final Fight. This gives you a huge variety of ways to dispose of your enemies, and nothing feels like throwing a fully healthy enemy down a chasm with a well-placed grapple and throw. Just be careful you don’t end up down there yourself.

Bad guy on the left falling down to his death, bad guy on the right getting grabbed and headbutted.

The stages are pretty long and a bit repetitive but the large variety of moves makes it bearable. Boss fights are pretty neat, especially when you fight a dragon boss late in the game and it goes all shmup on you! Yes, for just this one boss fight you fight as you are playing a shmup and I found this to be fantastic. I would have wanted more shmup parts in the game, maybe even a whole stage. That would have helped with the repetitiveness greatly.
There is a difficulty setting and some continue/lives tweak setting but we always try out the games in their native setting before we do anything else. We beat the game on our first try but barely. Things got a little bit intense by the end which is always fun.

I got super hyped for this part. Its nothing special as far as shmups go but its amazing for gameplay variety

The game looks pretty good, cutscenes and still pics look nice but nothing extraordinary. The music is guitar riffs all game through, they sound a little rough and are pretty catchy at best, little annoying at its worst.
Where the game shines however is in the control department. They are extra tight and make great, full use of the SNES controller, you can really tell this is not an arcade port for a game specially made for the SNES.
Overall a solid addition in the already great beat ’em up library on the SNES. For us, Pirates if Dark Water does not quite reach Turtles in Time/Knights of the Round levels but its right there with some of the others like King of Dragons and the Final Fight sequels. Recommended!

Gameplay 8,5
Visuals 8
Music 7
Lasting appeal 7,5
Has it aged well? 8,5

Overall 8 a great game!

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