By Steve Baltimore / November 19th, 2013
Publisher: Atlus USA
Release Date: November 19th, 2013
Age Rating: T
AquaPazza is a 2D fighting game based on characters found in Leaf and Aquaplus visual novels. While some of you will know most of the characters found in the game others will not. You may also know a few of the characters from the anime adaptations of the visual novels. This will help you out a bit, though I found the game tends to reference their personalities from the visual novels more so than the anime. If you’re really interested in knowing more about the characters, you can check out AquaPazza blog.
There are two storylines to be found here. The first one is very humorous, and tells the story of how AquaPazza came to be. A girl was trying to make a love potion, but, instead, made a potion that brainwashes people into doing her bidding. After completing Story Mode with any character, they will be available to play in the Another Story mode. This story focuses on a mirror with the power to grant wishes, but something is terribly wrong. I could put more details here, but with the story being so light, I’d start spoiling things for you.
I enjoyed playing both story modes with each of the characters, though the boss battle at the end of the Another Story mode is one of the hardest, most cheap bosses in fighting game history. If you are easily annoyed, I recommend dropping the difficulty level down while playing this mode. As you complete the story modes with each character, this will unlock the CG images from the story in gallery mode for viewing at any time.
Graphically speaking; I really love the look. The graphics look like are they ripped straight out of an anime. Everything is bright and colorful, the backgrounds look nice, and the animations in battle are smooth. The backgrounds are taken straight out of scenes in the Visual Novels from which the characters appear. There are no frame rate drops in battle that I noticed, even when some of the more crazy special move animations are going. I did notice a bit of framing on the character select screen, though this really doesn’t affect anything.
The audio is nicely done, as well. From the grunts and groans of combat to the characters spouting various lines in battle, it was all enjoyable. The stage music is upbeat and fight-ready! It’s been quite a while since I have played these visual novels, but I think some of the music is remixed from those. Either way, it sets a nice mood for battle, and fits right in with the tone of the game. All of the cutscenes are voiced during the story, though there is no English audio option. This doesn’t hurt the experience one bit, as the Japanese voice actors do a great job.
For the most part the characters are all pretty well-balanced. Each fighter has his or her own unique fighting style. Some will be ranged fighters, while other will get up close and personal. There are some fighters I feel throw off the balance somewhat, as they are a bit overpowered. Oboro is a great example of this as his moves do multiple hits for big damage and he is also very fast. Which I personally feel gives him an unfair advantage over some of slower fighters such as Manaka. I do not feel they are so overpowered that it is game-breaking, but a few tweaks wouldn’t have hurt anything. With 13 different fighters, and 13 different partners to choose from, there are plenty of different styles to suit anybody’s taste.
The fighting engine is pretty simple; you have four different attacks. Three of them are mapped to the face buttons on the controller by default, and you can customize this anyway you wish. When you want to use the heavy smash attack, you will have to press the medium and strong attack buttons together. Thankfully, you can just map this to any button on the controller, making this much easier. You will also have a button with which to call your partner for aid, this is the X button by default. Partner aid moves vary depending on your partner, and they usually have a couple of different moves to aid you in the fight. One is performed by simply pressing the button, while the second you will have to hold a direction while pressing the button.
Each fighter has a variety of special moves which he or she can perform. This is all pretty standard 2D fighter formula, nothing fancy about it. You can chain together some pretty impressive combos using the partner attacks, special attacks and normal strikes. I found a surprising amount of depth in this fighting system. To perform characters’ super moves, you will have to amass power levels. This is the bar located at the bottom of the screen. This works basically like super moves in any other 2D fighter. As you land strikes on the enemy, the meter will build. Each character has one ultimate move called Splash Arts. If you are down to you last bar of health and have at least three power levels accumulated, you can perform these. These will bring you back into just about any fight, as they deal massive damage to your opponent. There is a training mode that will help you perfect all your moves and combos before you take to playing for keeps.
Another interesting aspect of the fighting engine is the Active Emotion System. Depending on your play style, this will either help you or hinder you. If you stay on the offensive, your character will gain high emotion, which will allow you to deal more damage and perform bigger special moves. If you play very defensively, you will have low emotion and weaken characters a bit. Since I usually stay on the attack in these game, this system worked out very well for me. I mean, the best defense is a great offense, right?
There isn’t anything fancy about the online modes. There are normal matches and ranked matches from which to choose. You do gain some grades as you fight online which will unlock more titles for you to use. You can also save replays of your finest matches for viewing later on. The online play runs great– there is very little lag here. In fact, this is one of the most lag-free fighters I have played online.
All in all, despite a few balancing issues and one of the cheapest end bosses in fighting game history, I still had a ton of fun with AquaPazza. The great looking graphics, great online play and rock-solid fighting engine make for an overall good experience. Though some may have a hard time getting into the story without prior knowledge of these characters, the fighting itself very much makes up for that. It took me about 13 hours to complete both story modes with all 13 characters. This will vary depending on which difficulty you choose to play, but I did my playthrough on the normal setting. For the budget price of $29.99, if you’re a fan of these visual novel characters, or 2D fighters in general, I don’t really see how you can go wrong!
Game was provided by the publisher for review purposes.