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Clockwork Aquario Switch Review – 90s Arcade in 2021

Clockwork Aquario Switch Review – 90s Arcade in 2021

clockwork aquario

Clockwork Aquario is a title that has been sitting dormant for nearly 30 years. This is a nice reminder of what Japanese gaming used to be and how it can still be a lot of fun in the 21st century. Ryuichi Nishizawa, game creator and founder of Wonder Boy, led development on the title, and it is now available on the Nintendo Switch! This title, long to be thought lost by many, from legendary team Westone Bit Entertainment, is a testament that game development can finish under the right circumstances.

So does Clockwork Aquario live up to the hype and deserve to come out of gaming dormancy? Or should this title have stayed in the gaming vault forever? Let’s find out!

Clockwork Aquario

Clockwork Aquario is a relatively simple and straight forward side-scrolling and platforming arcade experience. Each stage is pretty run-of-the-mill; you fight some enemies, you collect some points, and you value your lives (and continues) in order to clear the short campaign.

One thing that makes Clockwork Aquario unique is the use of three different selectable characters in Huck Londo, Elle Moon, and Gush. Each character plays pretty much the same, but the design of each and the beautiful sprites make selecting one of them quite difficult. Interestingly, you can change characters mid-play after losing all of your lives and needing to use a continue. You will simply be given the option to select a character before returning to the screen, which is fun if you like to change things up in the middle of your game.

At the end of each stage, we are presented with a boss fight that range from too easy to wildly difficult. This may be the one area of the game I am not a fan of, because the difficulty spiking can be quite random. However, the bosses are each quite different and bring their own challenges to the table. It is just unfortunate that some bosses, and even some stages, ramp the difficulty too high at random points to force some damage/death, which is an area that feels very much like an arcade game for the wrong reasons.

clockwork aquario

That is thankfully where the negativity ends, because the rest of the Clockwork Aquario package is amazing! Even though the main campaign is rather short, as it can be cleared in under an hour easily, there is a lot more to do that adds to the value of the overall experience. For starters, there is co-op for the main campaign across all of Easy, Normal, and Hard modes, and then there are a slew of bonuses, like a cooperative Mini-Game, Arcade mode, an art gallery showcasing the game’s development, and a soundtrack mode with both original audio and remix versions.

The artwork is absolutely a love letter to the days of which this was initially in development. Seeing these beautiful pixel designs with amazingly fluid animation makes Clockwork Aquario feel like a title that was made recently instead of one that was resurrected from almost 30 years ago. This is testament to the incredible work that was already put into the project before it was unfortunately cancelled so long ago. The soundtrack, equally, is incredibe on both sides, as the original soundtrack is retro and sounds amazing and the remixed versions of each track are legit bangers!

The platforming itself is nothing to write home about, as it is very reminiscent of the days of old. It is neither good or bad, as there are moments that feel really good and smooth and others that feel a bit clunky and old. This is just the nature of a game from the 1990s that had limitations and a very particular direction in its arcade influence. The boss fights is where the platforming feels the most awkward, and that definitely makes some of the battles more difficult than they should be.

See Also

It is very clear who the target audience is for Clockwork Aquario. It is an arcade experience straight out of 90s Japan, and it is shocking that this never got finished before now. This would have been a highlighted game back during the golden age of this style, but thankfully this is still an excellent and fun game in 2021.

Clockwork Aquario does come at a relatively steep price, but for those who grew up during this era, this may be a nostalgic experience unlike any other. Not only do you get the classic arcade gameplay, but this package also comes with a lot of goodies that increase the overall value tremendously. Although the difficulty spikes can be a bit infuriating at times, this is still an adventure worth taking, and this is a 90s classic that never had the chance to earn that accolade.

But it has graced us now, and it is one that will hopefully entertain for years to come!

Clockwork Aquario Review provided by Nintendo Link
Review also found on OpenCritic
Publisher: ININ Games, Ratalaika Games
Developer: Westone Bit Entertainment, Strictly Limited Games
Release Date: December 14th, 2021
Price: $19.99£16.99€19,99
Game Size: 505 MB

clockwork aquario

Fun, classic arcade platforming

Lots of modes and extras

Beautiful artwork

Stellar soundtrack (Both classic and remix)


Difficulty spikes can be a bit frustrating

Main game is quite short (30-45 min)

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