Extra Features: Local Multiplayer (1-2), Online Multiplayer, Leaderboards
AquaPazza: Aquaplus Dream Match is a 2D fighter developed by Examu and published by Atlus. The characters in the game are a compilation of characters from the To Heart, Utawarerumono, and Tears to Tiara anime and manga series that were created by the Aquaplus and Leaf companies. The game also features characters from White Album, Routes, Comic Party and Kizuato. If you haven't heard of the animes yet, then you're not alone since I had to look them up online to find out if they have been localized in North America since I haven't heard of them yet myself.
AquaPazza was released in the arcades of Japan and they also got this game a few years earlier than North America. It goes without saying that this game has a HEAVY anime feel to it. The animation and overall look to the game is absolutely fantastic! The game is very colorful and the character images and overall visuals are quite solid. I really feel that a fan of the anime series this game is taken from will be greatly pleased with the look.
The cast of AquaPazza is composed of 14 characters total (10 female, 3 male and 1 hidden female character). After choosing your main character, you will have a chance to choose one of 13 partner characters. The partner characters are separate from the main cast and are there to function as the partner only. The partner characters offer extra attacks and sometimes offer enhancements. The partner system in AquaPazza is much like the partner system in the original Marvel vs Capcom where the partner is only there for support. The default setting is two rounds and each character has two life bars. AquaPazza has a total of 13 stages to choose from. It has both normal and simple modes of play.
The game has a four button setup and it plays very hardcore compared to other Atlus fighting games. Some characters have a few string combos and some have none. Combos that hit many times often require good timing with commands. Each character has their own unique set of moves and super moves. Super moves usually take 1 level of meter, but each character also has a level 3 super move called a "splash art" that takes 3 levels of meter from the 5 meter super gauge. The characters are quite varied much like a Street Fighter game. You have your fast characters with easy strings, grappler characters, range characters and other types. Some characters have their own enhancements and the option to heal.
All characters can change their current emotion based on what is happening. When a character defends too much, their emotion level will go down and they will become bored, which results in them being open to a guard break while blocking. Attacking will result in a high emotion, which makes your character less prone to a guard crush. There is also an impact guard that is similar to Street Fighter 3's parrying system. You can press back and block the moment an attack hits to gain an increase in emotion, avoid guard crush and prevent chip damage to your health gauge. There is also a resist smash move that takes 1 level of meter in order to counter an attack shortly after guarding - kind of like Street Fighter Alpha alpha counters.
As for modes, the game offers the basics for the most part aside from an extra story mode. The game actually has two separate story modes. You have to play through the first story mode with a character in order to unlock that character in the alternate story. The story is presented with still character images and text dialogue much like Street Fighter Alpha 3. The overall plot is very light-hearted overall. It's about the same level of seriousness as a Tenchi Muyo episode. There is sometimes some very noticeable slowdown on the character select screen on both story modes - this is most likely from the character pics being animated. It's like the game is still loading up the character screen while viewing it.
The game offers a Story, Another Story, Versus, Score Attack, Training, PS Network and Gallery modes. The versus mode is a two player local mode. Score Attack challenges a player to go through a series of opponents and try for the highest score. Training is the usual training mode. The training mode has a list of character moves and it offers a few combos that it will demonstrate to you in real time. The combos are only two sample combos however but they definitely show the work it takes to string some character's moves at times. The gallery offers images from the game's story mode - these images are unlocked while progressing through both story modes per character.
Online matches offer the usual ranked and player matches. Player matches are set up in lobbies to where up to 6 players can join at a time. Players that aren't fighting can watch other player duke it out while observing in spectator mode. The lag for each fight is around the same as any other fighting game - it's light delay overall. Connection speed is shown beside the lobbies before entering.
Fans of the anime series that AquaPazza is based off of will get the most out of this game. Anyone that is interested in a fighter with a heavy Japanese anime influence might enjoy this game also. The main problem that I found with the game is that it offers nothing unique as far as modes and overall gameplay is concerned. You get your same basic modes that are in all other fighters with nothing to distinguish it from the rest of the crowd. It's a decent fighting game that looks fantastic while playing it, but it doesn't last as long as other fighters.
+ Beautiful presentation and animation
+ Varied cast of characters
- Bad slowdown on character select screen in both story modes at times
- Average fighter that does little to stand out from the rest
Final Rating: 75%. AquaPazza looks fantastic from a visual perspective, but aside from that it's overall an average fighter.