Clockwork Aquario (PS4, Switch)

There once was a video game company called Westone that made a lot of popular titles, such as the Wonder Boy and Monster World series, and was even responsible for some of the Adventure Island games, too.  But did you know their last arcade game was never released?  It was called Clockwork Aquario and was supposed to be out in the early 1990s.  But because of the popularity of one-on-one fighters and a low score in test markets, this 2-D action platformer never came out.  Until now.  Join a heroic boy, girl, or robot as they venture to an underwater city to stop a fish-man from taking over the world with his robotic sea creatures.  Clockwork Aquario is available to download on PS4 and Switch, but reviewed on PS4 here.

You can choose to play as a boy, girl, or robot, but they all control the same.  Two players can go at it together as well.  You can stun enemies and pop balloons by hitting them from above or below, or with a short ranged attack.  Stunned enemies can be hit again to destroy them, or you can pick them up to throw at other enemies.  You can get hit once before being defeated, but can pick up power-ups that refill your health, make you invincible, or let you shoot stars for a limited time.

I just love the colorful graphics and rare arcade oddities like this.  But I had a few problems with it, too.  Hit detection felt a little off, and there are no instructions to tell you what to do.  With five short levels, each with a boss at the end, the game can be over pretty quickly.  As an arcade game, it’s also hard with a lot of cheap deaths to make you put in more quarters.  And that’s the biggest problem is how they separated the difficulty levels in this game.  There is a practice mode where you get infinite credits, but can only do the first two levels.  The other difficulty modes give you limited credits, starting with 9 on Easy and going down from there.  But in my opinion, when you pay for an arcade game like this, I think you should be able to put in as many credits as you want to see the whole game no matter what.  But other than that, if you like rare arcade games like me, you still may want to check this one out.

Kid Factor:

Clockwork Aquario is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Fantasy Violence.  You can stomp and throw robotic fish, and when you get hit you just fall off the screen.  Reading skill is helpful for some of the text, but not necessary just to play.  Younger gamers may have trouble with the arcade style difficulty, though.

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