Format reviewed: DSi Ware eShop
Other formats available: Exclusive
Developer: Collavier Corporation
Publisher: Collavier Corporation
Website: My Aquarium: Seven Oceans
Ahhhh! The ocean. I’ve always adored the daunting scale and vast dark emptiness, counterbalanced by the weight and beauty of a slow motion Great White attack. Breathtaking awesomeness. How does this downloadable software compare to the sheer fathomless depths of Earth’s water world.
Released in Japan in 2013 and the United States all the way back in June this year, the My Aquarium series made its name on the WiiWare service, and is now out on the European eShop as a DSiWare downloadable title for the DSi and 3DS.
Did I say ‘game’ series. Calling this a game is doing it a great service. It merely exists to provide a pleasant mellow backdrop to your ever on and clamshell opened 3DS. The only downside, and it’s a big one, to the beauty of the ocean creatures floating around your carefully constructed water environment, is that the whole graphical interface is so damn ugly. The fish look like pixilated messes. Things have seriously moved on since the DS, and after 3 years of playing 3DS games, it really is difficult to go back to last generation graphics. The music, however, is ambient and pleasant enough for such a game as this, even through it’s tinny piano renderings of classic pieces.
The user interface within the main game is touchy. It seems hit and miss whether your presses on the touch screen will be registered or not, and far too often you’ll find yourself reverting to button presses and the D-Pad for menu choices. This makes itself abundantly clear when trying to use the menu selection scroll wheel. Using the D-Pad is slow and cumbersome, clicking through every one of the exhaustive options to peruse your sea and fresh water aquariums, but this is far preferable than using the touch screen to slide the scroll wheel around. This just does not work, and sometimes doesn't move, and then jumps far too much and flicks through 5 options in less than half a second forcing you to backtrack through the options again.
Unlockable customisation is the order of the day in My Aquarium: Seven Oceans. Options for the size of the tank, water type, presentable marine snow, type of water, temperature, pressure, salinity, acidity, etc. Different types of food and ornaments are abundant, from Krill and seaweed to small fish and squid, from small stones and arches to sunken ships and treasure chests. There truly is a lot of unlockable content to keep you going in this game.
Ornaments that can brighten up your tank can be placed anywhere at the bottom of your tank, and are unlockable by playing through the game, especially the fishing game on offer. Select the fishing menu on the impossible to control scroll wheel, and it’s off to one of seven scenic Earthly locations to increase the variety of the species of fish in your captivity. I say scenic because if you went there in real life it would be, however in My Aquarium: Seven Oceans you’re treated to the top screen showing an innately rambling buffoon, who provides no direction in the art of catching fish. The bottom screen renders a display of a top down close-up view of a bobbing fishing float (no scenery is present whatsoever).
“Fishing is all about motivation“, my handy guide would have me told. So, let‘s get motivated! What am I doing, watching a bobbing fishing float bobbing. Nothing‘s happening, now I like fishing in reality, however, this is nothing like it. HIT IT!! Oh, here we go, tap the touch screen and it’s onto a side-long view of the fish I just snagged (HIT) and time to reel that sucker in. The on-screen prompt would have me believe that I just draw circles on the touch screen, but refuses to tell me something that I learn by bitter experience. Timing is everything, tire the fish out by keeping the wildly swinging reticule in the blue area, too fast and it moves to the red section and the fish escapes. “Having fun is also an important art of fishing”. Thanks handy helper, but I’m not having fun (sobs inconsolably).
So, by fishing, or more like by playing the innately boring mini-game a multitude of times, it’s possible to increase your variety of species to add to your tank. Each tank can hold up to 10 fish, depending on size and aggression, and once your tank is a perfect pixilated rendition of the real thing, then click away in camera mode to catch your fish in badly animated movement. Just don’t forget to clean your tank before algae build-up pollutes and kills them. Oh, and a last expert tip, the Red Lion fish doesn’t like rivers, whoops! Another dead fish, just like this game.
Review by Lee Davies for Nintendo: Review