Clockwork Aquario is a long-forgotten title from the 90s that had gotten shelved. Much like the recently released UltraCore, someone has stepped in and finished the game!. Was it worth the effort? Set your watch and come with me.
Clockwork Aquario was originally developed by Westone Bit Entertainment, the guys and gals behind the WonderBoy and Monster World games.
Due to the timing of its release and a poor reception this title, unfortunately, got shelved and seemingly lost to the annals of time. That is until Inin Games acquired the license from Sega, got some of the old staff together, and tasked them with finishing this title for modern consoles.
I remember the initial announcement for this title and it looked so fun and vibrant, it stirred the memory of being a child and flipping through CvG and Gamesmaster looking at some of the colourful mascot Platformers and craving them.
None of that magic has been lost and from the second you boot the game you’re met with an onslaught of colours, giant well-animated sprites, and that oh-so delicious 90s mascot platforming style that was all the rage.
The stages are all uniquely themed and even the enemies tend to match the themes, from robotic fish that would make Darius blush and angry clouds there are a lot of foes to jump on and dispatch, the bosses also are giant screen-filling experiences and are a genuine pleasure to fight.
Now the gameplay in Clockwork Aquario is a traditional 2D platformer, you go from left to right avoiding pitfalls, jumping on enemies and you can also stun them and throw them as a projectile. Being it’s more of an arcade than a console title there is more emphasis on score attacks and the number of enemies to take down instead of an intricate platforming challenge and you can forget any puzzles too.
You can find gems that add to your One-Up meter which gives you an extend when it is filled and you can find a star upgrade that powers you up and makes you fire out stars as well as being invulnerable for a brief period. There are also health potions that bring you back to full health, 1 hit will rip your clothes or destroy half your body depending on which of the 3 characters you pick and the second is game over.
The game is quite a sweet but short experience clocking in at roughly 20 minutes, again this was an arcade title and was never designed to be some super expansive adventure that lasted literally hundreds of hours. Fortunately for the most part the game is all killer, there are some brilliant set pieces and the only real downside is how much crap you have to deal with on the final level and the horrendous final boss.
The game has a plethora of options, an easy mode so you can learn the first few levels of the game, and various upper difficulties to give you a challenge. Once you complete the game on Medium or Higher you get access to the Arcade Mode which is a massively tweakable mode where you can mess about with the game’s “Dip Switches” to create your own challenge or just breeze through it again.
There is also a Mini-Game you can play with another person, the full game is in fact a co-op experience but unfortunately, 2 players is the only way you can experience this mini-game. There is also a gallery mode where you can look at the artwork for the game and even sketches from the original drafts of the game, there is even a soundtrack here should you want to chill out and listen to some jams.
It’s fantastic to be playing yet another “canceled” 90s game in its full glory, it’s not going to change the world and it is painfully short despite the different modes which are just the same game with different parameters to be fair. If you’re a fan of the old arcade crowd and fancy
A forgotten gem brought back to light. Pure 90s arcade nostalgia.
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