Aquattack! is a grid-based match-three (or more) minis title with a fish shtick. Sound familiar? Luckily, this game is more playable than the illfated iFun4all bore-fest. There isn’t much to do here besides for matching multiple fish of the same color, but at least there isn’t an attainable max score. The graphics are decent, the sound is okay, and the arcade mode is fun, but the main attraction of the game for me is its 50 challenge levels.
The layout for Aquattack! is familiar: Bejeweled/Puzzle Quest players will know exactly what to do from the get-go. For everyone else, allow me to explain the basics. There’s a 7×7 grid with a fish in each box. The point of the game is to score points, and you do so by clearing fish. In order to clear fish, you must line up (either vertically or horizontally) three or more fish of the same color. The game is colorblind-friendly, too, as each fish looks slightly different. What Aquattack! does differently than similar games is forcing you to move an entire row or column as opposed to swapping a single fish’s position. The directional buttons move your highlighter and each face button moves a row/column. For instance, pressing the X button won’t select a fish, it will move the entire column that the fish belongs to down. If you’ve played Yoshi’s Cookie, you know what I’m talking about. If not, reread the sentence and try your best to comprehend my sense-making skills. A string of three fish will net you 300 points. Four in a row gets you 800 points and spawns a mine. The mine explodes if adjacent fish are cleared; it then removes the remaining three adjacent fish from the grid. Maneuvering a line of five like-fish nets you 1,500 points and spawns a star. The star acts as a wildcard starfish; it counts as any color you want it to be. Setting up an entire row or column that contains one of each fish type in it scores a bunch of points and spawns an eel. The eel, when activated, clears all fish diagonal to it. Keep in mind that after fish are removed they are replaced by random fish, so your plan of attack will be changing rather rapidly. However, the main problem with the game is its speed.
The way Aquattack! is set up (moving whole columns and rows at a time) means you will be clearing fish around the grid that you didn’t really plan on clearing. While moving one fish in for a 4-in-a-row clear, for instance, odds are you’ll make a clear-3 or two along the way. The problem with unplanned fish clearing is that when a string of fish is cleared, there’s a relatively long animation that goes along with it. The fish swim off of the screen, then new fish spawn in their places. It’s not extremely lengthy, but when the new fish spawn, they often set off another chain, so on and so forth. The game would be a lot better if the animations were cut down to a minimum or if chain-clears had no animations whatsoever. I found myself watching fish clear more than I wanted to, and in a game where your time is limited, that’s not a good thing. The overall lag becomes the main obstacle in some of the games challenges, which are otherwise a lot of fun.
The two modes in Aquattack! are Arcade and Challenge. Arcade is a high score affair; there’s a time limit that can be elongated by clearing longer strings of fish and you play until the time runs out. There are 50 challenges to tackle, and each one is harder than the one before it. Each challenge has its own set of limitations attached to it. One challenge may task you to score x number of points in y number of seconds. Another will require that you clear a certain number of one or two fish types or special objects (bombs, stars, eels, etc). The final 15-20 challenges are tough. I finished them all and had a good time doing so. The only time I got frustrated is when the slow animation chains hindered my ability to finish a challenge. There’s also a bug in the game that disables autosave if you wake your PSP up from sleep mode. When you turn on your PSP, you’re met with a prompt: “No Memory Stick insterted. Autosave disabled.” The problem here is that you need to quit to the title screen in order to get to the options and turn autosave back on.
Overall, Aquattack! is a neat little game. The arcade mode is fun to play and the challenges are varied enough to keep the game interesting for a while. The long clearing animations and autosave disabling bug are small hiccups in what is actually a good minis title. It’s not the end all of match-3 puzzlers, but it is the best that the minis platform has to offer.
For more info on our review policy click here. This review is for the PlayStation Portable version of the game.
At the time this review was written, my Arcade mode high score is 130,600 with a time of 7:44:94. All challengers are welcome.
What I Like:
- Challenge stages
- Different block (fish) types
What I Dislike:
- Fish clearing animation downtime
- Autosave bug on PSP