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Clockwork Aquario - Unreleased 90s arcade game from Westone & SEGA


Riven
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In 1994 Westone (developer behind the Wonder Boy series) cancelled the last arcade game they ever made, it was called Clockwork Aquario and was set to be published by SEGA using their SEGA System 18 hardware. The game itself started development in 1991 and seems to have had an overly long development period with countless changes along the way. This falls into modern and retro I guess.

 

Nearly 30 years after Westone started work on it Clockwork Aquario has finally released to the public thanks to Untied Games Entertainment (that's ININ Games and Strictly Limited Games) the digital release was yesterday and I've been playing it over the weekend as I was sent a preview copy. It out on PlayStation and Nintendo Switch priced at £15.99, at the minute the PlayStation trophies don't seem to be up yet. 

 

 

This is a unreleased retro game that has finally got a release and on modern formats and it really is a blast from the past. This is a very well made and good looking 2D platform. That is a mix of Rainbow Island, Parasol Stars and the western Super Mario Bros 2 as a platformer, in fact it has a very unique feel to it. The game has three different player characters each playing a little differently, with Huck being the balance character, Elle having the best jump but weakest attack and Gush is the biggest with the best attack but worst jump.

 

The aim is to stun enemies and throw them at each other as you jump around the stages, there's lots of balloons to pop to and you can combo enemies and balloons for huge score bonuses. Each character takes two hits, before losing a life and if you take a hit you can recover health with a red potion that can be dropped from set enemies. Added to that there is a random chance enemies will drop a star power that allows you to go crazy for about 10 seconds, you are unable to take damage during this period and can shoot out stars to attack.

 

1up ups are rewarded via set score bonuses and by collecting enough of the gems stones enemies drop to fill up the life up meter. The game has one and two player support, however in two player mode you can steal gems by jumping on each other and all grab and throw the other player to damage enemies. So there is a bit of a competitive feel in two player and you can get each other killed if you aren't careful.  Two player mode also adds in a balloon popping mini-game at the end of the stage, which is rather fun as the two players battle it out. The music and 2d sprites look great with some of the best art seen on the SEGA System 18 hardware.

 

Downside the game is very short it can be finished in just under 20 minutes. It only has five stages with each have a sub & main boss. With some practice I've already managed to one credit clear it as the game is really well balanced and once you learn how it plays you can quickly find ways to increase your score.

 

This version been down by Ratalika Games and Steve Snake again as with all the other ININ Games stuff. So it has the same type of screen options and the same CRT filter. It appears to be a arcade emulator, feature wise you get a odd mix of modes, which is just the arcade with a set number of credits, beat the game once and you can then play the arcade version in full which also allows you access to the dip switches to change the settings as well as insert credits, making the other modes useless.

 

I would have liked some sort of stage practice / boss mode where you could pick the stage and boss you wanted to practice on, play or fight against. The game also includes a nice gallery and a soundtrack test along with a rather odd remixed OST, which can't be selected in-game so you can't swap the original BGM for the remix, which seems a real oversight.

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