Since I was a little girl, I have always loved aquatic life. Some of my favorite trips were visiting aquariums around the country and being able to stand next to giant fish, sharks, seahorses and everything else. Growing up, I even had the pleasure of having a saltwater aquarium at home. Running an aquarium has never been a dream of mine, but when Mega Aquarium for Nintendo Switch was announced, I couldn’t help but think that it would be a good opportunity to enjoy the idea! Will starting an aquarium full of exotic fish species be child’s play, or will this game take me on a tortuous journey and leave me with empty tanks?
Megaquarium is the closest thing to a tycoon-like game you can get. Your job is to manage aquariums with a large number of Sims, as well as managing your business economy, attracting tourists and getting them to spend their hard-earned coins in your business.
The game is divided into two main parts: a quarry and a sandbox. Career mode offers you several campaigns, each with its own objectives, and a well-constructed progression that allows you to learn and unlock all the elements of the title. Once you’re familiar with the basic functions of the game, you can also dive into sandbox mode and build your own aquarium from scratch. Customize it to your liking!
Starting with a professional path, each mini-campaign sets itself a goal. You may be restoring and refurbishing an old aquarium, or even more. Or help turn a private aquarium attraction into something new and exciting. What the game does manage to do, however, is to make things easier for you with all the mechanisms it offers. In the first levels, you perform simple tasks, such as learning to build walls and aquariums yourself, and then you introduce simple tropical fish that don’t need much care or special needs and are a little friendlier. When I had my own saltwater aquarium at home, we had fish like this, so there’s obviously a lot of correct knowledge about fish in this simulator.
The more campaigns you promote, the greater the requirements and challenges become. Each mission gives you a multi-level checklist that you must complete to advance to the next level and unlock the next. Before you know it, you’ll have eels that grow over time and need aquarium improvements or a mixed culture, with some being aggressive and others more docile. In terms of simulation depth, there is a lot to learn the deeper you get into the game. Unfortunately, the iconography gets pretty confusing, and often I wanted a quick guide to some of the common elements. The game does its best to reduce confusion by providing access to a panel of information about each creature that includes some of their needs, habits, etc., and I certainly used it often.
In addition to managing all your tank sizes, you are also responsible for managing the plant. This means hiring the right employees, with each person having some sort of pros and cons. As aquariums grow, you can install dispensers, trash cans, and workstations for your employees. A large aquarium has a lot of food and maintenance, and the game has a good economy and the tasks that go with it.
The downside is that it’s often hard to know if you’re doing well enough or not. Because of all the nuances with each of the 100 or so species of aquatic life you can eventually spot, I wouldn’t be sure to manage anything right or wrong. Although each creature has a bar on the information board that goes down when it is dissatisfied with something, it is not always clear in the game what I did wrong. You will end up regularly checking information and comparing statistics to see what could make this fish an unhappy camper.
The amazing thing is that the aquarium really takes off and starts to grow. Since most of the game is presented from an aerial perspective, you get a bird’s eye view of everything from the fish swimming around you to the many customers who are portrayed as Mii characters thinking about your appeal. Another interesting feature is that you can move the camera down to see the aquarium at first glance, and you can walk around your aquarium without any restrictions. That way, you can see firsthand what it’s all about and what’s happening. Unfortunately, I was not very impressed with the visual acumen in some areas. Fish swim very stiffly – they start and stop in a fixed position with often poorly curled animations and meaningless transitions (eels are particularly bad). For a game that revolves entirely around the theme of aquatic fauna and flora, I’d like to see more visual finishes and maybe even more realism in movement and so on. However, since you will be spending most of your time managing everything on sight, this probably won’t be a problem for many players.
With a sandbox mode that allows you to adjust all conditions and determine how far the aquarium can grow, here is a very solid game that you can sink your teeth into for hours without even realizing it. I felt it was a game that relaxes management while giving the player many things to focus on, with the goal of filling the reservoirs of life. It’s not a particularly difficult simulation, once you overcome some confusing symbols and missing information.
Megaquarium Attempts offers you the midget-like aquarium simulation game you’ve always dreamed of. There is a lot of life here, even if there are complexities that may not please everyone. If you’re really into simulators like this, you may find yourself stuck for hours managing the aquarium of your dreams, filled with exotic sea creatures that you can only hope to own.
- Charts – 6/10
- Sound – 6/10
- Gameplay – 6.5/10
- Late Call – 7/10
Final thoughts : WARNINGS
Megaquarium offers players reliable and well-documented fish and aquarium simulations. You will have a lot of fun building the aquarium of your dreams. However, the complexity of the game is a bit high and it is not always clear why certain actions occur. It’s not the most visually appealing game, but there’s a crazy amount of content to explore if you want to give it a try.
Alex has been involved in the gaming industry since the release of Nintendo. He’s turned his hobby into a career, spending just over a decade developing games and now serving as creative director of the studio.
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