AquaPazza Review – An Alleged Dream Matchup

AquaPazza, which is being published by Atlus in the US and developed by EXAMU, who most notably developed Arcana Heart, is an excuse to get characters from various AquaPlus dating sims such as ToHeart2 and Utawarerumono together in a fighting game. A lot of the appeal of this game is the fan service of these characters from disparate franchises interacting with each other. However, to the vast majority of the American playerbase, these characters are all brand new. With the fanservice appeal out the window, the game has to rely on its fighting engine to appeal to the West. How does it do? …eeehhhhhhh.

Lovers, Maybe Not Fighters

AquaPazza Review
Sasara’s dashing strike is a very effective attack.

AquaPazza features the requisite modes for a fighting game: Story Mode, Score Attack, Training, and Online and Offline versus. There are 13 playable characters, and additional support characters that you can choose from that can be used as assists in battle with varying effects.

The game system is relatively basic: You have light, medium, and hard attacks, plus a fourth button to call your aforementioned support character. This ability to mix and match a main character and a support character is somewhat reminiscent of developer EXAMU’s last major hit, Arcana Heart. I did find that the use of partner characters was easier to use in AquaPazza than in Arcana Heart, however. Pressing light -> medium -> hard almost always results in a combo, and beyond that, there aren’t too many advanced ways to do combos. To some, that might be refreshing, especially after games like Skullgirls that feature 60 or 70 hit combos that just don’t feel like they end. However, it also feels like characters are very limited in what they can do. My main character, Tamaki, has no real combos she can do outside of a partner assist, and for the most part, those assists basically let a combo continue for one more hit before she finishes with an air grab. In other words, each character isn’t really that flexible.

I keep looking for character depth that just isn’t there. I feel like it’s just over the horizon, and I’m missing something, but I played several online matches and had no trouble besting my opponents. I truly think that I’ve gone as far as I can with this battle engine.

To be fair, there are some unique features of this engine. There’s something called the “Emotion System,” which goes up or down based on how aggressive you are. When it is high, you do more damage, and your super moves have more hits and flourishes to them. Games like Guilty Gear and BlazBlue reward forward movement and aggression with super meter; AquaPazza simply chooses to do something slightly different.

That being said, the lack of depth might be a selling point for those that are new to fighting games, or don’t feel like they want to learn a complex system. Having three attack buttons is easy to deal with, and a fourth button to call your partner is easily understood. Each character only having a few special moves and combo possibilities means it is easier to get up to speed on a chosen character and be more effective. I personally do see this lack of depth as a negative, but I wanted to point out that there is a positive side to this.

Characters without Character

If you don’t know who these characters are, you won’t find out by playing Story Mode. Being an AquaPlus fanservice game, the whole point of this experience is that you already know who all these characters are, and there appeal to watching them interact with each other. Some of the characters are wacky, like a maid robot who fights with her book, and a library mouse who throws bundles of books at opponents by being awkward and letting them slip out of her hands. If you are in the West, odds are very good you don’t know these characters.

Listening to the story mode, I encountered several other characters, including some not playable in the game. I had no idea who they were, but given their cadence of voice, I wanted to put my fist through my TV. I don’t find, well, any of these characters that appealing.

The plot of the story mode is that someone named Ma-ryan has created a terrible concoction that has brought the various disparate worlds of AquaPlus together, and controlled the minds of specific characters. Whomever you have chosen has to go and beat some sense into these mind-controlled drones, before handing Ma-ryan some justice. There’s also a second story mode that’s unlocked after beating the first, involving a mirror that can grant wishes. You’ll have to fight through the other characters who want their wishes granted, before you encounter the mirror and the horrible truth behind it. It is what it is, I suppose, but I found the story mode to be very garden-variety.

I wish I could tell you more, but I can’t. I just don’t know enough about this cast of characters. And likely, you won’t know either, which is precisely the ultimate problem with presenting this product to the West.

Reach Out And Touch Someone

The game does have online play, and in my testing, a 3-bar connection resulted in lag-free gameplay. I had these matches against people who were less than 25 miles away. I also played a 2-bar match against someone in Florida which was essentially unplayable due to the amount of lag caused by the connection. AquaPazza does not utilize GGPO or any of the newfangled middleware that removes the appearance of lag. While I haven’t played any online matches outside of these two areas, I don’t feel amazingly comfortable recommending the online play.

AquaPazza  is certainly a new fighting game, but it doesn’t do anything new. What’s worse, it attempts to offer a fanservice package to an audience that’s not receptive. I can recommend this game to AquaPlus fans only; otherwise it is my recommendation to avoid.

Ted completed both available story modes with Tamaki, and played several online matches against Atlus QA during a scheduled online multiplayer session. He mostly won during this session, and doesn’t know if QA was going easy on him. Probably not though; they were trying some slick crossup combos. He received a review copy from Atlus for review purposes.

5/10+ Unique Character designs
-Unfamiliar Cast
-No Innovation in Fighting Engine
-Online Play is laggy

Available on: PlayStation 3

Version Reviewed: PlayStation 3

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0 thoughts on “AquaPazza Review – An Alleged Dream Matchup

  1. jesus christ dude,if you dont know jack about fighting games then maybe you shouldnt do reviews of em…and especially not when you shit all over a game that you didnt even bother to begin to master.

    there is very advanced ways to do combos in this game.each character has its own way to cancel(usually a dash cancel) and each partner has 2 assist attacks that can extend your combo in different ways and are great for juggles.you can even cancel their supers into an assist and continue the combo from there…ive had the game for only a couple of days and the more i mess with it in training mode the more depth i uncover.

    im not the type that criticizes other peoples work(being reviews,youtube videos or whatever).but this here is not just your OPINION(which i could respect…if you dont like the game,you dont like it and thats fine)

    but you dont know what youre talking about and YET ,you go on the internet and talk shit.somebodys gonna read this and give this game a pass because they assume you know what youre talking about.

    i made a quick video…

    take a look at it and tell me if the combo system doesnt “have any depth”(and this is after only about 4 hours of playing).i havent even tinkered with the splash arts yet or fully understood what can combo with what(and i dont read FAQs for that cause figuring the combo system out is the most fun part when i get a new game)

    but you just glanced over it and decided it doesnt have any depth….thats just poor reviewing.if you dont like the artstyle,the characters,the game engine thats fine…its your opinion and youre entitled to it and i have no problem with that…but when you call the combo system shallow(and it really isnt)thats not opinion anymore…its just a WRONG fact.

    “Pressing light -> medium -> hard almost always results in a combo, and beyond that, there aren’t too many advanced ways to do combos ”

    just delete that line….

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    1. I guess the only thing is that the only way to extend your combos beyond magic strings is to partner assist. Which if that’s what this game wants to do, it’s fine. I found partner assist combos weren’t that hard to do. Not sure if that’s a good thing or a bad thing in itself, but it doesn’t add terribly to depth.

      I haven’t seen supers cancelled into assists though. Also, no one at Atlus did combos like you did there, just now. Kinda wish the QA team had that skill level. Do keep in mind the only people I had a chance to play against were other people who got prerelease copies of the game like myself. Also I work a day job so I had to miss the scheduled multiplayer session with the press.

      The review had to be up before the game released to the public. I made the review with my best intentions in mind. Quite frankly, it still stands: 5/10 means “Genre enthusiasts only,” and I should know; I wrote what each review score means for Gamer Horizon.

      That said, I thought your combo was going to end after the second PA. Good stuff.

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      1. not for nothing but…the games been out in japanese arcades since 2011 and got a home port in japan in 2012…it doesnt take much “digging” to find out more about the game before writing an informed review.

        however ,i do agree with the rest of the review…its a niche game,with a lot of fan service that will appeal only to certain people.and thats exactly why we need as many people as possible to jump on board(otherwise,publishers like atlus will stop giving these games western releases)

        there is tremendous depth to the assist system.you need to know exactly how long it takes for the partners attack to connect and the timing is crucial.a few frames of difference and the assist will have a different effect.and how fast you start attacking again after an assist or cancel also changes the moves proprieties.and then you got the wall-bounce(like YUNs ex palm strike in sf3)which is like a free hit that allows you to continue the combo after the opponent ricochets off of the wall.

        and im not taking a stab at you here…i just hope that if somebody who wants to buy this game and reads this review will scroll down to the comments and see a lil more info on the pretty decent and interesting combo system…thats all

        but again….”Genre enthusiasts only” ,no doubt(and those genre enthusiasts are exactly the people who care the most about the combo system)

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  2. “I truly think that I’ve gone as far as I can with this battle engine.” Oh my are we not just the fighting game expert here.

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