AquaPazza: Aquaplus Dream Match
Aquapazza sinks to a new low
Being a huge anime fan as well as a fighting game fan, I found a game on the PSN Store that contained both of the things that I love. The name was Aquapazza and it looked pretty good from screenshots and other reviews. Plus it was only $9.99 so I thought to myself, why not? Unfortunately this was a huge mistake on my part. At the very start you're greeted with a pretty cool cinematic followed by the menu screen. The menu is pretty much the same. You got your story mode, online, training mode, yet no tutorial to actually show how to input combos or special moves (or in this case, Splash Arts). I know this may be nit-picking, but some of these inputs are very awkward for people that aren't too good at fighting games, much like myself. Speaking about the fighting system, Aquapazza has a very weird and somewhat unbalanced mechanic called the 'Active Emotion System'. Every time you continuously dash forward or attack the opponent, you gain an attack buff for a short time. Now one would think if you dash backwards or blocked the opponent you'd gain a defense buff, right? Well one would be wrong. Instead, your defense actually LOWERS rather than increasing. This is very unfair for people that use defense strategies rather than offensive or for people that are getting mauled in the corner by a combo. But this is just the tip of the ice-berg folks, there's a lot more things we have to get through before we completely sink. Let's talk about the character select screen. Whenever you hover over a character spot, you're greeted with a 2-D animation for that character on the side. Now with me, I absolutely love 2-D animation and love the effort and creativity people can create with it. I must admit that it is pretty cool to see this in a fighting game....that is if it didn't lag the entire console. Yep, on several occasions when selecting a character the game takes a bit catching up due to the frames for the animation. What a sweet delight. Oh I should probably mention as well that the characters in this game are from actual Visual Novels, but to be completely honest I've never heard of these series at all and they look dull for the most part. The character Oboro in particular reminds me of a rat for some reason. Plus none of the other characters really stand out. They all look like either generic school girls or generic fantasy warriors. There's also a support system where you can call out your support and they can do something special to benefit you in battle. I haven't found anything wrong with the support system so far but I feel if I play it longer, I'll be sure to find something wrong with it. Now let's get into the fighting. At first, it seems pretty good. You can use different moves and create combos, use supers, etc. However out of every fighter that I've played (which includes Street Fighter, Tekken, Blazblue, Skullgirls, and Soul Calibur), this has some of the most odd and annoying inputs for moves. Some moves are very simple to pull off like a simple fireball move and what not. Then there are some that take so much dedication just to do pull off a small move that does little to no damage. The supers especially rarely do any damage. I would use one heavy attack, and it would still do more damage than any special for my character (that's if I could even pull it off.) There are even very simple 'Splash Arts' that won't work. I used the character Tamaki, and attempted to do her 'Splash Art' multiple times. All you have to do is press down 3 times, then press the B and C button at the same time (which I had set to the triangle and circle button). I continued to do this yet no luck. I tried it in training mode and it identified that I was pressing the right moves, yet it wouldn't let me perform the 'Splash Art'. I tried my second controller, still nothing. I reset and tried again, nothing. I even erased my save file, made a new one, and tried again. Still nothing. The moves and inputs are just some of the worst I've ever seen. Not only that, the characters themselves are VERY annoying. Most of the girls blurt out high pitched noises whenever they get hit, even if it's a simple punch and their K.O. sound effects are ear bleeding. A character would scream loudly for 2-3 seconds, which becomes very irritating when playing story mode. I actually muted my T.V. a majority of the time while playing the story mode because of that. Speaking of which, the story mode isn't that great either and definitely does not keep you interested (but to be fair, most fighting game story modes aren't that good). Finally, there's the online. Unfortunately I can't say much about the online because...barely anyone is on it, and for good reason. This game is dreadful. If you want to play an actual anime fighting game, I suggest one of the Blazblue titles.
An eccentric, yet competent fighting game gem
Aquapazza combines characters from Examu and Aquaplus games / animes into one beautiful 2D fighter. The pacing is similar to that of Chaos Code, Blazblue, and other recent entries in the genre…except you get to choose a specific partner character to aid in various ways (similar to the first Marvel Vs. Capcom game). Another notable feature is the Emotion mechanic: Your fighter's power and stamina will rise and fall based on their morale--which mainly depends on how offensive you play--thus encouraging rushdown tactics. There are no tag-teams or skyscraper jumps here, but thanks to the side partners there's still a ton of variety and combo potential to be had. Online matches run smoothly, and there's the standard assortment of offline modes: Story, Another Story (an alternate story mode for each character after you complete the main one), Versus, Score Attack, and Practice. The interface is colorful and organized, and load times are swift--especially if you opt to perform the 2.8 gig install. There are only 13 playable characters--10 of which are female--so Aquapazza may not appeal to most audiences. But, if you don't mind the anime aesthetic and constant squeaky schoolgirl voices you WILL find a surprisingly deep fighting game here!
Kind of unexpected game...
This is a fighting game, but all the characters in this game are from other Leaf / AquaPlus visual novels (Kizuato, To Heart 2, Utawarerumono, etc). Since none of those games came to US, I think only few people who has knowledge about these games or related anime would know about this. For me, since I haven't played this game, I think I will buy this once released.