Clockwork Aquario (XSX) Review

Clockwork Aquario was originally developed in 1992 by Westone but never released. At the time, 3D arcade games were the new hot thing so releasing a 2D title might not have done well so it was scrapped at the last minute. Then, in late 2021, this forgotten action game was released on PS4 and Switch.

To learn more, see my article on the PS4 version here as everything still applies to this Xbox version.

To quickly summarize, Clockwork Aquario is a bouncy, action platformer with unique gameplay mechanics. Using a melee attack, some enemies can be frozen, picked up, then whipped at other enemies. Sometimes bouncing on numerous enemies like platforms will reach new, secret areas. Other times hitting one enemy numerous times will cause them to pop like a balloon. For a thirty-minute quest, the game is action packed and filled with moment-to-moment gameplay that encourages action and a little experimentation. Just remember, this was originally an arcade game designed to take all the quarters in your pocket so expect a higher degree of difficulty and some cheap enemy placement and hazards.

The crowning jewel of this forgotten/unreleased title is obviously the gorgeous hand drawn spritework.  Honestly, it pains me to hear that this game was never released due to its visual appeal. In fact, in an era where everything is photo realistic 3D, I think Clockworkd Aquario looks better than ever, acting as a breath of fresh air with its fluid, cartoony presentation. The visuals should be celebrated, not disrespected. Even if you never play this game, it is encouraged to watch a Let’s Play just so you can see everything in motion; it is a real treat, one that is sadly lost to time.

Clockwork Aquario is a special game. It has history even though it was never originally released. Understanding its background makes this game even more pleasurable and is a key component to its identity and a reason why someone would want to play it. With that said, I wish more historical documentation was included. There are a couple modern features implemented, like rewind, and there are some sketches to browse, but I want more. I want to learn about the unique history of this cool game. Let me see some design docs. I want to hear from the developers, how they worked on the game and how heartbreaking it must have been that it was never released. There is a tremendous story here and it is a shame that the packager doesn’t acknowledge this.

Still, it is a fun game. I just want more because it isn’t everyday that an unreleased game, one that has this much quality from the early 1990s, resurfaces in modern times. Better late than never.

SCORE: 8/10

Also Try: checking out the Arcade 1-Up units

Makes Me Want: more, obscurely forgotten games to get republished  

Wait For It: a Dreamcast Mini console

By: Zachary Gasiorowski, Editor in Chief

Twitter: @ZackGaz

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