Aquapazza is a 2D fighter featuring a cast of 26 characters from various Aquaplus games. The total number of playable characters consists of thirteen characters, while the other half are solely assist characters that lend support during fights. The game’s roster consists of 4-5 characters each from different Aquaplus series, including but not limited to Tears To Tiara, the To Heart series, Utawaremono, and White Album.
The reason for all of these characters coming together all of sudden to fight each other isn’t anything more than your typical cross-over storytelling. Ma-Ryan from To Heart is creating a love potion to make anyone fall in love with her, but she somehow causes an inconceivable occurrence and merges multiple worlds together. But that’s not all, she also created the “Aquapazza,” which allows her to control people, and is more or less the reason for cute anime girls tossing books at you, running you over with a bike, and sweeping the floor with you.
With that said, the story is not Aquapazza’s shining point. It’s the system mechanics that make it stand out from other fighting games. Aquapazza is a technically a four-button game with a dedicated assist button. Like most 2D fighters, each character has a light, medium, and heavy attack that can be strung into combos by using sequential button presses. To put into simpler terms, Aquapazza lists the attacks as A, B, & C.
However, in addition to the typical button presses of A, B, and C, there is also the combination of B+C, which causes your character to perform a heavy smash that blows your opponent to the other side of the screen. Finally, there’s the assist button (D), which summons one of the thirteen assist characters to battle to help you at that very instant. Each assist is different depending on the character you choose. Some are better than others and some have a longer recovery time after use than others.
On top of that, there are also super attacks in Aquapazza, which are seen in most 2D fighting games. Similar to other games such as Street Fighter, super attacks generally use one stock of the power gauge seen at the left and right bottom portions of the screen. The Power Gauge maxes out at five stocks and increases as you are being hit, blocking, attacking your opponent, and even when your attack misses. There are also even stronger super attacks called Splash Arts, which use up to three stocks of the Power Gauge and are much more animated than your standard super attack.
But here’s what really makes Aquapazza unique—the Active Emotion System. The Active Emotion System, or AES for short, changes your characters’ emotion based on how you play the game. It rewards aggressive players and penalizes the defensive ones. It’s a means to keep things fast and exciting! The AES has three states that your character can be in. High, which is obtained by being aggressive and grants the player with an attack boost; Normal, the starting emotion; and Low, which is caused by running away and staying in one spot for too long, which will lower your defense.
Aquapazza also features a multitude of different game modes. In Story Mode you can play as any character through a total number of eight stages to reveal the games story, but in addition to this mode, you have Another Story. Another Story is more or less the same thing but with a new story that centers around a mirror that grants any wish, which gives everyone a reason to fight each other for it. Then there’s the standard Versus Mode where you and another local player can battle for supremacy, and Score Attack Mode, which is like story mode but without the story, and a much harder boss at the end.
Generally, I find myself playing online the most, challenging others to see who is the strongest, joining lobbies and watching other people across the world play in hopes of learning new ways to play the game. It’s a whole new experience online, and in my experience, while Aquapazza may be a game to easily pick up and play, it’s a hard one to master.
It is also worth noting that Aquapazza has some of the most gorgeous looking stage backgrounds and background music. Some personal favorite of mine are: the Convention Hall, for it’s incredibly high amount of various Aquaplus themed anime booths and posters; and the Concert Hall, for it’s great choice of colors, singers Yuki and Rina from White Album in the background, and giant plasma screens that showcase the fight that is currently happening.
While playing Aquapazza, I quickly noted that this game is no Street Fighter. At times it feels like a Street Fighter game but Aquapazza doesn’t know how to take itself as seriously, nor was it intentionally designed to be a serious game. I often find myself laughing at character attack animations, not because they’re bad but because I found them genuinely funny. Characters like Manaka and Multi from the To Heart series are the primary reason for this. All of Manaka’s attack animations are just of her stumbling over, dropping books, or knocking over book cases. She’s a classic klutz. Then there’s Multi who pushes and swings a mop around, who also stumbles all the time.
With a cast of 26 characters and only three male characters, I feel that the game was clearly targeted towards a specific audience, which I feel hurts the presentation of the game. It’s a great game that could compete with other 2D fighters once you get past the way it has presented itself. Ultimately, it’s simple, amusing, and has enough depth to be considered a competitive fighting game—but before all of that, it was intended to be cute.