Every once in a while you’ll stumble across a game title that’s difficult to decipher. Games like Yu-Gi-Oh! Worldwide Edition: Stairway to the Destined Duel and Lineage II: The Chaotic Throne – The 1st Throne: Kamael. And with the recent release of Aquapazza: Aquaplus Dream Match, we have yet another game to add to the list of long-named and confusing games.
Aquapazza: Aquaplus Dream Match is a Japanese anime fighter, developed by Examu. The game was originally released in Japan to arcades in 2011, and later made available on the PS3 through Japanese developer Aquaplus. Now, developer Atlus USA has localized Aquapazza and released it in North America on the Playstation Network or in select retailers for $29.99.
Before we get into the meat of the game though, let’s break the uber-confusing title down. The first word Aquapazza is Italian and means “crazy water” in English (more on that later). Aquaplus is the game’s publisher in Japan. And Dream Match refers to the 26 characters in the game which are plucked from previous Aquaplus games (Mostly visual novels.)
So now that we’ve de-coded the game’s title, we can move onto the heart of the game: its fighting mechanics. A:ADM lets you select two fighters before a battle; a primary fighter and a support character, both of which of split into separate categories. The primary fighter takes care of the main battle. However, they can call in the support character to show up briefly and dole up some quick damage. Support characters can never take damage; think of them as almost another attack in your arsenal. Matching up the right support characters with primary characters is an important skill to learn (there’s no use pairing up a quick/combo support character with a primary fighter that is slower and focuses on grappling).
Another interesting system that Examu introduced is something called “emotion”. You gain emotion by attacking, chaining combos and being offensive. Higher emotion leads to more effective attacks and special abilities. If you’re too defensive, block often and hardly engage, you’ll lose emotion which leads to taking more damage. It’s a smart system that promotes attacking and punishes being too offensive, and it’s something that other fighters might be able to learn from.
A:ADM’s controls are as tight and responsive as you could wish for in a fighting game. It’s easy to execute the combos and moves that you want, and it all looks very flashy on-screen. Playing A:ADM is a joy, but it’s some of the game’s other quirks that might scare people away.
Aquapazza: Aquaplus Dream Match’s story, characters and dialogue might be a little strange for some North American players. The character roster, unsurprisingly, is littered with scantily clad female fighters. The writing, both pre-fight and post-fight is bizarre and almost seems like it sometimes got lost in translation (Although I’m pretty sure this isn’t true because Atlus USA seems to know what they’re doing). And then there’s the story.
The story starts off with an evil witch brewing some “crazy water” (aquapazza) to make all of the world’s “hot boys” like her, and it escalates in weirdness from there. If you’re not familiar with the Aquaplus universe though, you’re going to have problems understanding what’s going on story-wise. It doesn’t come as a surprise, but it is disappointing that players might have to motivate themselves to slog through the convoluted story.
Fortunately, A:ADM has other fleshed-out modes to compensate for its mediocre campaign. The online mode is where the game will get its long-term legs, and it works well. It was a little difficult to get a match at first, but as the game was out longer getting fights was easier and easier.
The game also includes a very straight forward versus mode and a very useful training mode, which is equipped with a “record” option and damage input information. It’s a shame that the main story wasn’t as fleshed out as the game’s other modes.
Aquapazza: Aquaplus Dream Match is a very good fighting game. Its mechanics, unique systems and gorgeous graphics make it a joy to play. It might, however, have a problem appealing to North American audiences. Many players will have a hard time finding anything to grasp on to or relate to. The characters and story will be foreign to most players.
If you’re looking for a good fighting romp, Aquapazza: Aquaplus Dream Match is a very good option at $29.99 on the Playstation Network. However, if you’re diving into the story, be prepared to have no idea of what’s going on.
This review is based on a review copy of the PSN retail version of Aquapazza: Aquaplus Dream Match, developed by Examu and published in North America by Atlus USA.
- Great Mechanics
- Unique Systems
- Mediocre Story Mode
- Could be Confusing