AquaPazza AquaPlus Dream Match Review

AquaPazzaAquaPazza AquaPlus Dream Match (Available exclusively on PlayStation 3)
ESRB Rating: T
Number of Players: 1 to 2
Genre: Fighting
Publisher: Atlus
Developer: Examu
Release Date: November 19th, 2013

It’s clear from the very beginning, AquaPazza is a title destined for the niche market. It’s a compilation fighter a la King of Fighters featuring characters from three different unknown Japanese series; Utawarerumono, Tears to Tiara and To Heart. Chances are, you’ve never heard of these franchises before and wouldn’t recognize any of its thirteen playable characters. Thankfully, Atlus likes to take risks and opted to bring the game to North America just the same. Originally, AquaPazza was released in arcades in 2011, and later ported to PlayStation 3 in 2012, both only in Japan.

I’m what you would called a noob when it comes to fighting games. Therefore, I cannot offer you the same kind of objective criticism you would find from a veteran brawler. I like to review fighters based on their accessibility to newcomers. I praised Injustice in my last review because of its friendly difficulty and glorious story mode. Like I said in the video review, I adored the fact that playing on normal was challenging, but fair and would adapt itself to the player’s skills. There was always hard mode to kick your ass, but you didn’t need to lower the difficulty in order to enjoy the game. AquaPazza makes no attempt whatsoever to draw in the casual fighter. It’s clearly aimed at a select audience and because of that, it harder for me to recommend.

The Great:

Although it has nothing to do with the gameplay, AquaPazza is sold right from the get-go at the low price of only $29.99. Many sites like Amazon or Newegg are even offering free shipping. It’s very rare to be able to get a brand new console game for less than thirty dollars these days, shipped. Heck, two recent titles, Ratchet & Clank: Into the Nexus and Puppeteer were also discounted right off the bat and those cost ten dollars more. The price alone should be a big incentive to pick this one up, for fighting fans out there.

AquaPazza4The Good:

+ I’ve never found something similar to the Another Story mode found in AquaPazza. It’s extremely simple, beat the game once with a character and you unlocked that character’s bonus story. These play out like a regular arcade mode with you having to go through eight stages to beat the game. However, both modes contain a different final boss, which is pretty cool. As usual, the boss fights are tricky because they always have unfair advantages. It seems as though that’s some unwritten law in all fighting games. Thankfully, there are eight different difficulties and the lowest one is a piece of cake. The challenge becomes frustrating pretty quickly if you try to bump up the difficulty, which I always find a bit annoying but then again, I’m sure the hardcore will be pleased.

+ Pretty deep fighting system. Basically, each hit you do fills up a gauge. You can then use up stock from that gauge to execute specials, super specials and cancels. These are quite exciting to watch and keep you on the edge of your seat. Executing combos is simple thanks to the game’s four button set-up, but hard to master as any good fighter should be.

+ Assist characters are unique and only playable that way. In fact, the game boosts thirteen unique fighters and thirteen unique assist characters. These can be used at the press of a button during a fight and can change the outcome of a battle. It’s important to master when is best to use them, and in which scenario if you hope to have any kind of success online.

AquaPazza2The So-So:

+/- At the time of writing this review, I could not try out the online multiplayer as the servers weren’t live yet. However, the Japanese game has been out for more than a year now which leads me to believe that the North American version will feature its own servers. This is all speculation of course, but it would be nice to have more opponents to challenge, via a larger online community.

AquaPazza3The Bad:

– Besides versus, there are only three gameplay modes, two of which are basic arcade style. The other one is a Score Attack mode that lets you upload your high scores. There’s not even a tutorial here so the only way to learn the basics is by trial and error, or by doing some research online. There’s an uninspired training mode, but nothing else to keep you coming back for more. Where are the mission or challenge modes which require you to input a thousands commands?

– Lackluster story. Even if I knew the characters, I can’t imagine I would be entertained by this. The basic premise is that there appears to be some kind of witch who wants to create a formula, called “AquaPazza,” that would give her control of all men. But all of this is told via boring skits, and tons of dialogue you need to read while there’s Japanese voice-overs. It’s not stimulating at all, and I ended up simply skipping everything and jumping straight into the battles.

AquaPazza1The Lowdown:

AquaPazza is a solid fighter, but doesn’t offer anything fresh or original to make it stand out from the crowd. I had fun playing the game there’s no denying it, but there’s nothing enticing me want to go back for more. The lack of game modes is honestly what kills it. I mean I’ve played many fighting games before which featured boring plots, but it didn’t matter because it had other modes to entertain me and I felt compelled to keep playing and learning the ins and outs. Sadly, AquaPazza isn’t friendly at all towards newcomers, and features a gallery of very obscure characters. The lack of a tutorial in this day and age is unacceptable. The fighting mechanics definitely work and I could see this game becoming huge in the fighting community, but because of reasons mentioned above, I can only recommend this to the most hardcore fans of the genre. It certainly carries a sexy price tag but AquaPazza AquaPlus Dream Match doesn’t break new ground.

Final Score: 7.0/10

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