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Score: 79%
ESRB: Everyone
Publisher: Valcon Games
Developer: Valcon Games
Media: Download/1
Players: 1
Genre: Puzzle

Graphics & Sound:
Aquattack is a cute little puzzle game whose aesthetics are firmly rooted in all things oceanic. Your game board consists of a grid made up of nautical ropes and each block in the grid contains a brightly colored tropical fish. The background behind the fish is a watery landscape where fish happily swim along, as underwater plants sway gently in the current and air bubbles slowly escape an ancient pot. Other characters that show up in the game include dangerous mines, mischievous looking electric eels, coral and happy stars and rainbows. As you clear areas of fish, they will gladly swim away, making a nice bubbling sound as they leave the area and others repopulate it.

The background music consists of one song, but it's very upbeat and catchy and it doesn't really get old quickly. It's done in a decidedly reggae style with lots of steel drums and horns. I liked it. As for sound effects, what's there works for the game. You've got exploding mines and the sound a stubborn coral makes when it won't allow you to move the row it resides on, but not a whole lot more.

There are two modes in Aquattack, Arcade Mode and Challenge Mode. Challenge Mode consists of 50 levels where you have to reach a certain goal, such as earning a set number of points or getting certain combos within a set time limit. This is a great place to figure out what all of the various obstacles and power-ups are in the game, since they explain what your goal is before the level begins, but they don't really do that in Arcade Mode and you are left to figure things out on your own.

In Arcade Mode, your goal is to clear fish from the board by matching 3 or more in a row going either up/down or left/right, but not diagonally. The further you progress in the game, the more colors and patterns of fish will emerge, making it more difficult to match them up. Also, obstacles like coral will appear in certain spots and won't be able to be moved the way the fish can, by simply moving them up and down and side to side. In fact, the coral will even render entire rows unable to be moved and you'll have to utilize mines to blow up the area around the coral in order to free up the row.

There are also helpful power-ups like an electric eel and the above mentioned mines that will clear large areas of fish, not by killing them, but by making them swim away in a very family-friendly way. You can also get special items like rainbows or starfish by accomplishing tasks like matching a row of 5 fish.

You start the level with one minute on the clock and the timer is constantly ticking down, however for every fish you clear, you get seconds added to the timer. So even starting with one minute, you can actually manage to play for a very long time.

There is no difficulty level in Aquattack, per se. However, the longer you can hold on in a level, the harder it gets, naturally. The colors and patterns of fish will vary, making it that much more difficult to get the necessary fish to make matches, especially the 4 and 5 fish matches that earn you special bonuses.

For a real challenge, try Challenge Mode, which is aptly named. While these levels tend to be shorter since they end as soon as you accomplsih your goal and you can sometimes manage to do so in a very short amount of time, some of the goals can be really tricky and tough and might be just the thing for someone looking for more extreme challenge.

Game Mechanics:
Aquattack has you moving the D-pad to control the bubble on screen which highlights the fish you want to move. You can move the bubble in all four directions and when you decide which fish to move, you then press either (Triangle), (Square), (X) or (Circle) to move that fish up, left, down or right, respectively. Basically, your face buttons act almost as a D-pad in that their directional placement corresponds to where your fish will move. However, you'll really be moving entire rows, since you are moving the fish, but his entire row moves with him. If you encounter a mine, you can create matches around the mine causing it to explode, clearing a lot of fish in the area. If you encounter a piece of coral, it will keep a row locked in place horizontally, so you'll have to be creative in making matches around it by moving rows up and down and you'll need a mine to blow it up. To be honest, I was able to clear the coral by blowing up mines that just so happened to be around it, but since there really isn't any tutorial and they don't tell you how to specifically do it, I was left to figure it out on my own by a combination of trial and error and looking at the Challenge Mode, which offers some form of explanation.

There's nothing wrong with Aquattack, it's just nothing special either. I played it for quite some time and the fish changed colors and such, but I never really felt like I was getting anywhere and it's a little bit boring. While it's a nice diversion, it's not going to be for everyone. However, since it's a PS3 Mini and the price point is fairly low and it can also be played on the PSP, you may want to check it out and see if it appeals to you.

-Psibabe, GameVortex Communications
AKA Ashley Perkins

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