Yo-Ho Kablammo

September 8, 2009 by Jeff Barker  
Filed under Reviews, Xbox Live Arcade

Overview

Title: Yo-Ho Kablammo
Release Date: September 2, 2009
Developer/Publisher: Canalside Studios
Genre: Action & Adventure, Family
Platform[s]: XBLA

Storyline

Yo-Ho Kablammo suffers from a complete lack of storyline – all you need to know is that you are a pirate sailing the high seas, and the battles and challenges that you would have come across in real life have been transformed into a rather contrived multiplayer deathmatch Xbox Live Arcade game, clearly geared towards the younger spectrum of the market.

yoho-Screen

Gameplay

Yo-Ho offers up two types of game, the usual multiplayer deathmatch mode where you can compete with up to three friends either locally or over Xbox Live and a deeper challenge mode, which gives you a range of goals to achieve (score X amount of points for example) within a set time limit. These are all linked to the online leaderboards where you can keep tabs on how you’re doing compared to your fellow pirates, but (surprisingly enough) we had trouble finding anyone to play online with and the boards themselves be scarcer than a drop of rum at the tail end of a pirate-ing convention.

Controlling your vessel is tricky and should be classed as an individual challenge in itself – the left stick is used to steer but your ship is so unpredictable in it’s handling that you very rarely find yourself heading where you intended to, and more often than not you’ll just end up circling round and round in a vain attempt to get the thing to head in one solid direction. Added to this frustration is the complete inability to score a hit on any of your opponents, not just because you can only fire from your port and starboard sides (using LT and RT respectively), but your cannons are so slow to reload (no mindless button bashing here) and your AI controlled adversaries so quick that by the time you’ve lined up a shot they’ve sunk your ship and sped off with the treasure. Your only hope in these matches are the mines that will sometimes appear, dropped into the area by a passing aeroplane. All are neutral until you claim one, turning it the same colour as your ship and causing it to explode on contact with any other vessel. Unfortunately this means your opponents will also be doing the same thing, and the computer controlled AI is so quick and deft in the handling of its ships that they are able to claim most of the mines available and scoot through the gaps of any they haven’t while you struggle to occupy a small portion of the screen.

Also at play are the power-up’s – these range from speed boosts to bigger and bolder weapons, but nine times out of ten your opponents will have nabbed them before you’ve even had the chance to point your ship in the right direction, and even if you do stumble over a power-up by mistake you’ll have more trouble than usual taking advantage of it.

Graphics

Yo-Ho looks very deceiving – its big, bold graphics are bright and appealing, in a CBeebies sort of way, and even the water (although not up to BioShock standards) is nicely animated. The overall cartoony feel is happy and joyous and, like a scurvy-ridden cake with hundreds and thousands on top, belies the grot that lies underneath its rather tasty looking outer casing.

Audio

Matching Yo-Ho’s bouncy, bubbly look is its soundtrack – various nautical-flavoured ditties run tirelessly throughout and the cannons and explosions all tick the correct boxes. In fact, the only high point of the game is the clichéd pirate voiceover during the tutorial. We guarantee you’ll have more fun trying to work out if the guy doing it is an American trying to do a West Country English accent or an extra off The Wiggles than you will playing the main game.

Overall Score & Replayability

Yo-Ho is ultimately a highly frustrating experience for anyone without the cast iron will of say, a seven year old, and playtime will be confined to bouts of no more than five minutes worth of stress-induced pad destruction. It’s a shame, because the overall cartoon-esque look and feel of the game is great, and with a little more effort it would have appealed to a broader spectrum of gamers and be worth its 800MSP price tag. Quite how this got past the Dream-Build-Play judges in its current state is beyond us. Avoid.