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Review: My Aquarium

Posted by on November 20th, 2010 | 0 Comments | Tags: ,

Developer: Hudson Soft
Publisher: Hudson
Release Date: September 14, 2010 | September 15, 2010 | September 8, 2010
Availability:
Price: $4.99 | £3.99 | €4.99 | ¥500 | HK$ 40.00
Demo: No
Players: 1
Rating: Everyone

What I liked:
Decent looking fish
Custom soundtrack

What I disliked:
Not much of a game
Jellyfish don’t look like Jellyfish

It’s difficult to classify My Aquarium as a game. In some ways, it’s a customizable screen saver for fish buffs. In other ways, it’s an aquatic-themed mass Tamagotchi. There are certain people who will really enjoy My Aquarium, and a lot of people who will find it pointless. I am a member of the second group, but you shouldn’t totally write off My Aquarium; it may offer something to hook you in.

My Aquarium give you six aquarium spaces of various sizes, a number of items and backdrops to decorate them with, and a variety of fish species to populate them. Several species are locked from the get-go, leading to an annoyingly gap-filled fish list that requires far too much scrolling. These fish unlock by checking up on My Aquarium regularly, encouraging you to return often.  The game sports a calming classical soundtrack, though it also supports custom soundtracks via the menu; I found it more enjoyable to put on some Dethklok while I watched predatory fish swim amongst schools of prey. You can customize even the lighting of each tank, as well as set “special dates” that trigger special light shows from the tank decorations. To top everything off, My Aquarium supports screenshots and video capture that post to the XMB, allowing you to show off your fishes and tanks however you so desire.

If none of the above sounds terribly interesting, then you probably won’t find much fun in My Aquarium. Aside from placing fish into the various tanks, you can also feed them, breed them, and allow them to eat each other. Attempting these tasks shows where My Aquarium lacks vital information. Every fish has an informational write-up, but none of this information advises which food they’ll eat or whether they’ll eat your other fish. These things need to be discovered via experimentation. For instance, I quickly learned that the Asian Arowana will devour smaller fish after leaving one alone with a school of tiny Tetras. Having predatory fish seems like it might be interesting, but sadly, the game handles fish-on-fish brutality like a score report. It never happens while watching a tank, or while the game is off, but it might happen in one of the other five tanks you aren’t watching at any given moment. You only find out about the feeding frenzy after returning to the scene of the crime, where a bland menu pop-up informs you which fish ate which other fish. There aren’t any eating animations, even when the fish are eating fish food, which is another area where one must experiment.

There are three types of food and no indication as to which is best for a particular fish; simply sprinkle some near a fish and see if they start swimming differently. Keep well fed fish of the same breed together in a tank and they may mate, or so I have read; I have been unable to convince any fish to commit coitus, no matter how romantic I light the mini-Parthenon statue in their tank. While all the fish look great, the sole Jellyfish in the game looks downright terrible. Jellyfish are delicate, stringy, almost ethereal creatures, whereas here they appear to be plastic UFOs dangling purple hotdogs from their bottoms. I very much like Jellyfish and I was very disappointed by their representation here.

My Aquarium has trophies to earn, but it seems almost silly to include them in what is, ostensibly, not a game. If you desire but cannot afford exotic fish, or simply enjoy the sights and sounds of a well-stocked aquarium, then My Aquarium may actually hold your interest.

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