AquaPazza: Aquaplus Dream Match (PlayStation 3) Review

By Az Elias 26.01.2014

Review for AquaPazza: Aquaplus Dream Match on PlayStation 3

Ask any fighting game player that was interested in AquaPazza: Aquaplus Dream Match when it initially released in Japan on PS3 in 2012 if they believed there was any chance of it being localised for the West, and almost all of them would say no. With so many rights issues to address and the biggest question being whether there was simply enough of an audience for this type of game, the likelihood of AquaPazza making its way over in some shape or form was slim, and many that accepted this would have imported the Japanese version. In a twist of fate, though, Atlus stepped up and published the game for a North American release in November of last year. Whilst the chances of it making its way to Europe are almost nil, anime and fighter fans will want to know if AquaPazza was worth the effort for Atlus.

AquaPazza is a 2D fighting cross-over, bringing together characters from various adult visual novels created by Japanese developer Leaf. With a number of anime series being spawned from these titles in the past, chances are the viewers of Utawarerumono, Tears to Tiara, To Heart, Kizuato, Routes, Comic Party and White Album will be seriously considering getting hold of this game, for characters from all of these shows are either playable or secondary characters.

As an anime cross-over, there's naturally going to be some concern as to whether or not AquaPazza is merely a big ball of fan service and nothing more. Obviously it is fan service, since that's what cross-overs generally are, but after going a little deeper, AquaPazza manages to bring something different to the genre, and that should be an important factor for fighting game players that are simply interested in how it holds up as a fighter to begin with. Not being able to understand the source material naturally means certain people will be unable to fully appreciate what the game presents in the fan service sense, but that doesn't really matter if it's a good fighting game players are looking for.

Despite the anime style and the predominantly female cast that may mean AquaPazza gets overlooked by the majority of the fighting game community, developer Examu, who many may know as the team behind the Arcana Heart games, has created a game that certainly should be given a chance. Compared to most other fighters, it is slower, but it demands a very offensive approach. The Active Emotion System punishes players that back off on the defensive, making them take more damage and becoming susceptible to Guard Crushes, but those that keep up the aggression will be rewarded with a high state of emotion that increases attack power for a brief period of time. It means players need to balance their use of offense and defence well, and the slower pace of the action means this becomes very important. Mindlessly mashing buttons won't often help. In fact, AquaPazza has an old-school feel to it, almost like Street Fighter, so that alone should give somewhat of an indication of how it plays.

Screenshot for AquaPazza: Aquaplus Dream Match on PlayStation 3

A partner character is always chosen alongside the main, where it can be called during battle to unleash its specific move to help out in times of need, and of course, special moves called Splash Arts can be unleashed for each main character after enough of a meter has been filled. Certain pairings may work better than others, and testing them all will be crucial to finding the setups that work best for each individual player and how to incorporate them into their game.

Single-player content is pretty thin on the ground, where only two different, simple story modes for each main playable character are available, plus a standard Score Attack and offline Versus mode. There are no prizes for guessing that the game's story isn't anything special, because it really is just a frivolous plot to give some sort of meaning to the way all these different characters from various universes came together. Try not to take it too seriously.

It is the competitive scene that is likely going to be the deciding factor in whether or not this game will be worth a purchase for the fighter fans out there. Being such a niche title and due to its cast and looks, the online community for AquaPazza is an area that it struggles in. This is no BlazBlue. The netcode can unfortunately be a problem on many occasions, too; it can be tolerable, but it's inevitable to run into many a bad, laggy match.

Sadly, as well, there is often the case of bumping into the same certain couple of characters a high percentage of the time, due to their overpowered statistics, making them obvious choices for so many online players. The scene is active, but it certainly isn't thriving, so it would be best to try and get on the relevant forums, speak to regular players and get lobbies going that way, where the likelihood of avoiding the high-tiered characters is much better.

Screenshot for AquaPazza: Aquaplus Dream Match on PlayStation 3

Cubed3 Rating

Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

If AquaPazza: Aquaplus Dream Match is being considered as a single-player title alone, it is unlikely to hold attention for any great length of time due to the lack of content, but the hardcore fighting players can definitely make it one to think about purchasing, especially as it was released at a budget price at retail and on the PlayStation Store. Fans of any of the represented visual novels and anime shows would likely have already made the decision to pick this one up by now, but for those on the fence, AquaPazza is a good change of pace from the quicker fighters on the market. So long as it is accepted beforehand that the online community is thin and lag may be a common occurrence, it is very much worth looking into.









C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  5/10 (2 Votes)

European release date None   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date None   


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