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Review: Aquapazza: Aquaplus Dream Match

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Smackin' fools down with Multi

AquaPazza: Aquaplus Dream Match assembles a colorful cast of characters from anime series you may not have watched into a game you probably wouldn’t even look at it because of the name. But wait! Don’t go just yet! I’ve got more to say about it. Stay with me here. It’s actually an excellent 2D fighter, and one you’d do well to support if you want to see more just like it.

AquaPazza: Aquaplus Dream Match (PS3)
Developer: Examu
Publisher: Atlus USA
Released: November 19, 2013 
MSRP: $29.99

Jump right in and choose from a well-rounded cast of stars from series like Comic Party, To Heart, Tears to Tiara, Utawarerumono, and White Album, as well as cameos visual novels such as Kizuato and Routes. Leaf, the Japanese visual novel company under the Aquaplus umbrella, made a name for itself through the latter two titles, though the combination of adult visual novels and anime series is a strange one to have been picked up for Western gamers. It makes sense in the end, however, since both playable modes are visual novel-styled narratives with plenty of text to wade through. Fighter enthusiasts will find it par for the course, while others may find it more than a little dry.

The unorthodox mixture of characters makes for a pleasing variety of movesets. Though many of the brawlers obviously have the same kind of build, they do play differently than one another, and it’s obvious when swapping between them. It’s refreshing to see they’re more than palette swaps and different girls in different outfits. To Heart’s Multi was one of my favorite characters to see making an appearance here, carrying a mop into battle, which put a smile on my face. This kind of attention to detail is what will end up winning over fans of the various anime featured here.

AquaPazza caters to both a hardcore and casual audience, offering modes for both crowds. If you’re a fighter enthusiast, you’ll feel right at home with the abundance of combos, special moves, and grapples -- it’s a brand new world of moves to memorize, and that’s a hefty chunk of time to master. For those of us who like mashing buttons and pulling off cool-looking combos by some stroke of luck, there’s a mode to opt into (simple controls) so you can hammer on the buttons with glee -- seriously, that’s much more fun than it should be.

Each match asks you to choose a partner before you get your brawl on, and your partner will assist you in battle once your super-power meter fills during the fight. Your partner isn’t always helpful, nor do they do much damage, but can be useful in a pinch should you need them. They’re good for some fun change-ups in the middle of battle, much like tagging out is in Marvel vs. Capcom or similar games. For the most part, however, you’ll want to rely on your own prowess in battle to rack up the wins.

Unfortunately, the aforementioned visual novel-styled narrative doesn't provide much of a reason to invest yourself within Aquapazza's rather throwaway story. It's dry, though peppered with some interesting one-liners and cutesy phrases. It's just a bit strange to think that a game backed by series with individually exciting stories and memorable characters couldn't muster a better reason to assemble all these fighters other than fanservice. I suppose one doesn't actually need a reason other than that when the game is of higher quality, but the story feels so completely throwaway that I was never compelled to stick around through the various bits of text. 

I did, however, quite enjoy the game's "emotion" system, which is unique for the genre. Conditions like "emotion high" or "emotion low" affect your character. For example, a flurry of offensive attacks will elevate them to an "emotions high" status, where your attacks become superpowered. Blocks stave off more damage. You're able to break through defense in the blink of an eye. Character animations even become more detailed. Being rewarded for spending time with the game and learning to use a wide range of combos instead of simply button-mashing your way to victory feels refreshing, as a result. 

You’ll come for your favorite anime series, but stay for the zany moves, frenetic combos, and lighthearted humor. The gameplay is fast, fun, and simple enough for newcomers to get into, and the budget price makes it an even sweeter package, so if you’re looking for a new fighter to conquer, AquaPazza is well worth trying out.

8.0 – Great. A great example of its genre that everyone should play, regardless of their interest.


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Aquapazza reviewed by Brittany Vincent

 

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Brittany Vincent
Brittany VincentContributor   gamer profile

3 I'm Brittany, and I'm the resident creeper, er, community manager over here at I'm here to make your experience more + disclosures


 



Also on Japanator: Aquapazza   (4)   From our database:

  • AquaPazza full trailer brings the Aquaplus action - Elliot Gay
  • New AquaPazza trailer features team Tears to Tiara - Tim Sheehy
  • Acquaint yourself with the cast of AquaPazza - Tim Sheehy
  • New AquaPazza trailer features team Utawarerumono - Tim Sheehy
  • AquaPazza US cover art revealed, website launched - Tim Sheehy
  • AquaPazza hits the PS3 in NA this November - Elliot Gay
  • Atlus to localize Aquaplus fighting game Aquapazza - Josh Tolentino
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