Review: Aqua Panic! HD
Developer: Eko System
Publisher: Eko System
Release Date: April 8, 2010 (EU) | October 19, 2010 (US)
Price: $9.99 | £7.99 | €9.99
Rating: E / 7+
What I Liked:
- Charming Graphics
- Infectious Music
- Addictive Structure
What I Disliked:
- Difficulty may be off-putting to some
- Some minor slowdown and interface issues
Aqua Panic is a charming, quirky puzzler from Eko System, and if the game seems familiar to you, that’s because it came out almost a year ago for the Wii, DS and PSP, and now it finds itself, having been made over in HD, on the PlayStation Network. Aqua Panic possesses charming graphics, music that I have failed to get out of my head (I’m serious, its probably going have it in my head for weeks to come) and an addictive structure that really fosters a “just one more level” mentality, which, if you have an addictive personality, could very well be the end of you.
But Aqua panic is not without it’s faults, the main one being that it’s a game on a console that uses a pointer interface, and this makes the game’s 80+ stages a little bit trickier to navigate than I would have liked, as you really have to juggle a lot of things at once, especially in the later stages. Also, the main menu has an odd little fault once you start up the game, after having created a profile for your “Adventure”. It doesn’t load your game, and it places you on the new game button on the menu, which led to me accidentally almost creating a profile a couple of times, though this is a trivial fault, and doesn’t really affect the game either way. It was just a bit irritating. Also, for a 2D game, I experienced a bit of slowdown when things got a bit hectic. Nothing that ruined my enjoyment of it though.
My main hold-up with Aqua Panic is that the difficulty is wildly inconsistent, holding your hand on one level, and then breaking it the next. It seems that they juggled around the order of the levels from the game from the PSP to the PS3. I’m not necessarily sure that it was for the better, though new abilities and enemies are regularly introduced, which make things flow smoothly and adds a load of variety to the proceedings, though this doesn’t make up for the fact that Aqua Panic is a hard game, and may not be to everyone’s tastes, difficulty-wise.
However, This is not to say that Aqua Panic is an exercise in tedium and frustration. Far from it, the game is incredibly fun to play, and, when a puzzle seems out of reach, the feeling you get when you finally solve the blasted thing and move on to the next stage may well be the most satisfying feeling I’ve ever had in a puzzle game. Its that combination of the lemmings-like structure of herding these fish towards the goal using a variety of tools, and the raw challenge of actually finishing a particularly hard stage almost make all the other issues with the game disappear, though not quite once you’ve been stuck on a stage for over a half hour, and have tried everything in your power to pass it. But once you do pass it, the satisfaction is immense.
Aqua Panic is a great game. The backgrounds are colorful, the music is bouncy and infectious, and the game is fun to play, control issues aside. But, the game’s sometimes erratic difficulty sometimes puts a damper on things, though it didn’t stop me from coming back for more.