Aqua Panic for PS3 | Game review – Console news

PS3; £7.99; cert 7+; PlayStation Network/Eko

Once again, the discounted world of console-endorsed, downloadable gaming comes good. Aqua Panic, while not quite hitting the home run other good value downloads have managed, is still a challenging and addictive puzzler.

Remember Lemmings? This is pretty much the same, only vertical. With fish. In an eye-popping cartoon style. And with a jaunty soundtrack that sounds like it’s been recorded in a helium-filled nightclub.

As with Lemmings, the mission is simple: save a specified number of your tiny charges using the tools at your disposal. You start with 100 fish and a limited, carefully judged arsenal to change the flow of water in order to get them to the safe spot at the bottom of the screen. Get it wrong and they’ll end up as a sushi supper for the waiting big fish.

It’s a simple set-up, yet the game is anything but. Indeed, even in the early training levels, you’ll be gnawing your fist in frustration – but, and here’s the key, you’ll still be pressing reset to try again. These sorts of games survive or fail on that “just one more go” factor and Aqua Panic delivers that by the trawler-load.

The learning curve is also well judged. For the early levels, you’re eased into how to use your fish-assisting weaponry: bombs, flowers (which grow instantly to block water flow) and harpoons to shoot peckish carnivores lurking in the puzzle. Within a level or four, you’ll be punching holes, blocking flows, assassinating beasties and laughing in the face of piscine danger. And then you won’t be, because suddenly you’ve got valves to employ, flowers that grow at a particular time (which you don’t control) and bits of rock that, actually, can’t be blown up.

On the downside, this can take many carefully-planned, easily messed up attempts to complete. On the plus side, because of Aqua Panic’s refusal to mollycoddle, there’s an intense satisfaction when you do finally save the required percentage of falling fish.

There are flaws here. The cursor can get stranded off screen which, on time-sensitive levels, will have you pulling your hair out. The display is garish. The music will drive you homicidal. Misjudge a bomb or a flower by a millimetre and it’s sometimes game over. However, the ease of play, the length of the challenge (a good week plus of tough puzzling) and the intense “eureka” moments as your final fish finds salvation still make this a very decent way of spending eight quid.

Rating: 3/5

Games

Sony

PlayStation

Neil Davey

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