Aqua Aqua Review
When Ocean released Wetrix on the N64 back in June of 1998, the concept of the game was a puzzle that required the use of Tetris shapes in order to keep water from leaking off an island. The Nintendo 64 original was executed well thanks to the ability to easily judge where the floating figure will fall and game's tight control making it much easier to control the falling figure and determine its landing. But it seems that the PS2 sequel of Wetrix, titled Aqua Aqua, has none of that. But before I get into that, let me address a topic that has been bothering me lately. Take a look at games like Super puzzle Fighter 2 Turbo and the original Tetris, titles that we will surely be playing for decades to come, and you know why? Because they are 2D puzzle games. I think 3D puzzle games should not be made unless they are truly unique, few games have showed us that they can be done well, but too few to count. This is actually why Aqua Aqua disappoints, if it had been re-done in a 2D fashion, then I believe the game could have been something, but instead it's not.
These visuals would look good on the Nintendo 64 or PSOne, but they don't do anything to keep me happy while I look at them on my PS2. As plain as it is Fantavision looks much better than Aqua Aqua, mainly because of its pretty colors and amazing special effects. Aqua Aqua on the other hand has nothing special in the visual category going for it, albeit there some bright spots such as exploding stars, Aqua Aqua doesn't impress me as much as I thought it would. The puzzle boards vary from grass to sand, and look moderately good, but once again do nothing to harness the PS2's power, or even my attention span. Average everything make this game a dud to look at.
The gameplay for the most part has remained almost exactly the same as the N64 version. The point is to surround the island with Tetris-like blocks that should go all the away around the island and touch, so that there is no gap in-between the structures for water to leak through. Another thing you have to complete is an earthquake, if you spell out the word EARTHQUAKE on the bottom of the screen, then you have completed the stage, if you lost it was either that an Aqua dude drowned in the tube because of the water overflow, or because too much water leaked out. I must be honest, for as long as I played Aqua Aqua, I couldn't get into it. The puzzles were far too frustrating to complete, because judging on where to place the piece is so much more harder than Wetrix. Primarily, instead of an accurate dark shadow, Zed Two made green conjoined squares, and it is unexplainably difficult to see where to place the piece, just when you think you've got the correct placement area, you were totally wrong an a gap forms between both shapes. Maybe if an overhead camera view was included, the gameplay would have been easier to get into, but as far as I'm concerned I'm not satisfied with the game's awkward gameplay. Also let me mention this, if you don't pass the 10 training levels, which are also a pain in the tukhus, you cannot play the game's Story Mode, hence the reason of the review being so late. Overall, I think those who enjoyed Wetrix should at least give Aqua Aqua a look-see, but be warned, a rental must come first. Those looking for a puzzle game should go out and get either Fantavision or Super Bust-a-Move.
Hmm, I'm not too fond of the sound either, while I enjoy the cool tunes, everything else just seems out of place. The game's voices are high-pitched and too cute for my blood, meanwhile the sound effects are just "thumps" and explosions, if you catch my drift. Because of the tunes, I won't really say that the sound is terrible, but the sound effects could've used a bit more 'umph' to enhance the gameplay a bit.
Reason numero uno on why Aqua Aqua fails as a good sequel to a good game. The PS2's analog stick is far too sensitively used in the controlling of the shapes, and is also the reason for dropping pieces in the wrong area. Like I said before, an overhead camera would have been a great addition and made the game much more accessible to the gamer, rather this is a great game hiding under terrible controls and faulty placement logic. If Zed Two made dropping pieces into areas more apparent to judge and see, then I may have ranked Aqua Aqua as a high 7 (7.7 or 7.8), but because of the game's poor control execution I had no choice by to rank it as a low 6.
Maybe next year 3DO and Zed Two can pull off a game with more camera features and better control for improved gameplay, since those two are the only flaws holding this game from being an enjoyable game. If you devote time to this game, you may feel rewarded in the sense of accomplishment, but if you are the type who prefers to jump right into a basic puzzle game, then I would stick with Super Bust-A-Move or Fantavision.
3/4/2001 Arnold Katayev