Clockwork Aquario is one of those overly-colourful platformers that looks like someone’s overdosed on E-numbers in the Willy Wonka factory.
It was meant to come out in 1992 in the arcades, but was cancelled as 3D games were on the rise, and 2D platformers fell out of favour.
In the basics, there’s a 2-hit system, such that if you get hit by a (usually clockwork) baddie once, then you’re halfway dead unless you find a health item, but if not, and you get struck a second time, you die. One thing you can do with this, which you can’t necessarily do with other games, is that on occasion, once a baddie is stunned (yes, they often have to be bumped off with the 2-hit system, also), you can pick them up and throw them at the other baddies. That said, I wasn’t quite sure HOW to do this every time, since it only seems to work some of the time.
Even with 9 credits in Easy Mode, it’s still quite easy to lose them all. After that, you’ll be given the option to continue. However, it felt like I lost far more than 9 lives before it decided enough was enough and I was ‘dead’. As I tried it again, I eventually realised you get three lives per credit, so it’s 9 credits, not lives. The lives come within the credits… and if you get 50,000 points (which you will before long), you are awarded an extra life.
Some will say that the price (£15.99 on PS4/PS5, £16.99 on Nintendo Switch) is too much for a game which lasts around 20 minutes to complete (full gameplay below, after this review), but even though I went for the Easy Mode where you’re given 9 credits (each with those 3 lives), it still took me five – pretty frustrating, in the final level – attempts to beat the game.
It’s annoying that it doesn’t tell you how many credits you have left while playing, so I had no idea, sometimes, whether or not I was on my last credit, and if I was… I’d need to get a shift on so I didn’t die during gameplay!
As time goes on, there are some baddies that just can’t be beaten no matter what – unless by pure luck – whereas others are more forgiving. However, there are still some times when I get killed by the latter baddies, and that’s just embarrassing for me.
There are many different visual options, such as filters (usually sharpness), CRT shaders, and whether or not to stretch the image; and you can also hear the soundtrack on a separate menu in OST and Remix versions.
There’s also a co-op mode so you can play with friends, including a level that appears after Stage 3, but it’s only available in 2-player mode, so if you’re a Billy No-Mates like myself, then you won’t have played it yet.
As well as the digital and physical versions, Strictly Limited Games have both a Collector’s Edition (£59.99) and an Ultra Collector’s Edition (£110.99) for both PS4 and Nintendo Switch. As an example, the Ultra version (above) contains:
- Clockwork Aquario game for Nintendo Switch/PS4
Collector’s box with magnetic latch
Certificate of Authenticity
Large Reversible Poster
Clockwork Aquario is out now on PS4 and Switch from their respective stores in your territory, plus all the physical versions from Strictly Limited Games.
Check out more PS5 reviews!
- Developer: ININ Games
- Publisher: ININ Games
- Players: single-player, co-op
Reviewer of movies, videogames and music since 1994. Aortic valve operation survivor from the same year. Running DVDfever.co.uk since 2000. Nobel Peace Prize winner 2021.