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Sunday, 2 December 2012

Aqua Aqua Review

We recently picked up from one of our charity shop trawls, Aqua Aqua from the Pickford brothers software house Zed two now (Zee 3 digital).  It was one of those games that always seemed to be available for other systems. The original Wetrix I believe was a N64 exclusive (Wikipedia suggests some other ports including GBC among the line up) making use of the analog sticks and swish water animation, for a rather nice looking puzzler.

Like I say it was one of those games that either slipped through the cracks by either being not available or on a system I didn't own, so when I had the chance to get a copy of the PS2 follow up I snapped at the chance.

For those uninitiated its a nice little puzzler where you have to make rock pools on an isometric landscape.  Land tiles will drop from the sky and its up to you to terraform square pools (and not so square pools) to catch water drops from the sky (make a perimeter wall is the best advice I can give here). Often, stuff will ruin these plans though.  Bombs and level down land that will lower your precious walls and blow a hole in  the level, as well as an earthquake that wreaks havoc with your plans.  Often though its your own incompetence and the slightly dodgy perspective that'll be your undoing as the water sloshes over the edge of the level.  Theres a gauge that will keep track of all spilt water and if it fills up then its game over and your elf drowns (yeah there are elves as well). 

However, its not all bad, you'll get a fireball to dry out those lakes for a meaty bonus and ice cubes falling at random to freeze whatever is in its path, giving you time to shore up walls and plug those gaps.  There is also a bingo board for when those fireballs connect you get bonuses, fill a row and you get all sorts of bonuses (though we haven't managed to get anything yet due to being lame at it). 


Though there is some supplementary guff about mythical beasts awakening and kicking arse for supremacy, most of the time you won't notice that and its you vs computer. 

The tutorial is a bastard as well, you'll fail more often due to dodgy perspective then not doing it right which is  frustrating.

Other modes need to be unlocked as well as the ever present option screen. 

Music and graphics.

Theres a nice ambient score going on that complements the action nicely as well as some good n crunchy effects.  In fact the best thing is the voices in it (by Janet James), every time your areas fill up with water you get a crazed sounding X lakes (x standing for the amount of lakes you have).  It sounds like its from an  old kids show which makes it all the nicer.  


Thanks to the controls you often make mistakes due to perspective leaving stupid gaps for precious water to drain away.  However it is pretty addictive with a hearty one more go gameplay, it just that perspective and pathfinding makes it tough to control.

Overall score 7.  An addictive puzzler due to shonky controls (many times I've created a small gap where I wanted a seamless wall) keeps it from its greatness. 

Incidentally the Pickfords went on to create Future Tactics with Digi's Mr Biffo on script duties (and Tim Follin on sound duties) and make Magnetic Billiards for smartphones. You can read more about what they made and more on Aqua Aqua here.

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