Aqua Lungers is essentially a merger of Nintendo’s Game & Watch Octopus handheld game and Mario Bros. (not be confused with Super Mario Bros. aka Mario 1). It is an interesting mix of co-op competitive play and controls very well.
Taking control of a deep sea diver, the goal is to swim to the bottom of the ocean, smack sunken ships to make gold appear, and then carry the loot back to the treasure chest on the surface. The problem is, there are schools of rabid fish between you, the prize, and the surface. Some fish are massive monsters that can easily destroy the player and can even be seen attacking smaller fish that are in the way. The goal is to collect a few thousand point worth of gold before your opponents and sometimes take down massive bosses.
The original Mario Bros. took place in an arena and Aqua Lungers is basically the same only the play field is larger than a single screen. Like the POW box in Nintendo’s original platformer, there is a power-up box somewhere on the beach of each stage that can drop a special item to enhance offensive or defensive capabilities. For example, the player might earn a bubble shield to take additional damage from the evil fish, or the dynamite can be used to destroy large groups at once. These super attacks also do not care about friendly fire so watch where you throw that dynamite.
There is a single player mode but it is basically the same as the multiplayer mode but not as fun or competitive. Although still playable and enjoyable, diving with friends is the best way to play. Like the original Mario Bros., there are times when both players can benefit from working together but the end goal is to earn more than your opponent. The frenemy thing here rides that line pretty hard but that is what makes it so great.
It is important to mention how well this game controls. Moving through the water, how the diver attacks, and jumping on land is very responsive. In fact, this game wouldn’t be what it is if it wasn’t for this accurate control scheme.
Aqua Lungers is basically a glorified Mario Party mini game but has enough content and flare to stand among the other quality and sleeper hit eShop multiplayer titles. There are some memorable moments, like being chased by a massive fish that even follows you on land, or screwing over your friend at the last second, that makes this $15 Nintendo Switch download a couch co-op worth your time.
Also available on PC.
Also Try: the egg mode in Diddy Kong Racing’s multiplayer (N64)
Better Than: Mario Clash (Virtual Boy)
Wait For It: a Game & Watch compilation on Switch