Under the Jolly Roger is a pirate action-adventure RPG for Switch, featuring an open world, hundreds of quests and more ship to ship combat battles than you can shake a stick at. For those of you saying “That sounds familiar” you would be correct, because this is actually HeroCraft’s PC game Tempest ported to a new console. So, how does it hold up after making the jump?
Under the Jolly Roger ports to both modes for Switch, letting you choose your preferred experience. I was surprised at how good the graphics are when the console is docked, certainly far better than I was expecting. Using the joy-cons is a little awkward, however, as you still need both of them to play the game and I found myself just waving them around nonsensically at points. Pro Controller or slotting in the joy-cons to the controller base was a much more comfortable experience for me. In both modes, it’s very easy to get the hang on ship navigation and control in battle as it works very intuitively.
While it’s easy to use and direct the action taking place, Under the Jolly Roger doesn’t utilize the Switch to its full potential. While all the controls are clearly labeled and accessible, I found myself constantly trying to use the touchscreen in handheld mode for certain areas and yet unable to do so. For example, when docked at a port, I kept trying to touch the icon for what I wanted to do, rather than use the controls to scroll through the list. Motion controls for docked mode, while not my preferred way to play, could also add some interesting options for folks looking for an experience with more movement.
Even though Under the Jolly Roger is a good example of a Switch port, it is contrasted by the marketing techniques of renaming a game and attempting to sell it as a different product. Nowhere on the Nintendo page for the game is it advertised as a port of an existing game, and it took loading it onto my Switch and playing the first few minutes before I realized it myself. Additionally, it is unclear whether it includes either of the two DLCs released for Tempest on PC; Jade Sea and Pirate City.
Not taking the confusing renaming into account, Under the Jolly Roger is a solid game for pirate fans, with plenty of quests and battles, different factions to align yourself with, and many ways to play. There’s plenty of replay value to it, particularly if you fight battles with various styles or choose alternate factions to align yourself with.
Porting to the Switch is actually an excellent choice, as the game is perfect for playing on the go, letting you make progress in small increments rather than forcing you to sit down for a marathon session that lasts several hours. The platform lacks a significant number of pirate games so far, hosting mostly pinball and casual options as well as Assassin’s Creed Black Flag, giving Under the Jolly Roger a clear niche to fill.
Overall, once you get past the misleading marketing and the lack of touchscreen controls, Under the Jolly Roger is a decent game. While I wouldn’t say it brings anything new to the genre, it does provide hours of entertainment and has plenty of replay values, with great controls on the Switch. If you’re looking for a pirate-fix and want it on the go, this may be just the thing.
TechRaptor reviewed Under the Jolly Roger on Nintendo Switch with a copy provided by the publisher. The game is also available on PC and PlayStation 4.