Now released on PSN and XBLA is a port of last year’s Wii title My Aquarium. Let’s get this out of the way first: this is not a game, it’s a virtual aquarium. Know this before you make a purchase.
I actually started a saltwater aquarium this summer to get away from my PS3 a bit, and have crammed my head with new knowledge on the steep learning curve from never having owned a goldfish to keeping some of the toughest marine animals a hobbyist can acquire, so it was with both trepidation, excitement and idle curiosity that I just had to check out what My Aquarium had to offer.
You are offered the opportunity to manage up to six aquaria, two small, two medium and two large. Into these you can place whatever fish you want, and decorate with various items. You can name the fish if you want (which prevents them from getting eaten), and feed with three types of food. Trophies are available for keeping fish alive, feeding smaller fish to larger fish, breeding the fish and so on. A quick press of a button removes everything except the tank from the display so you can enjoy your fish swimming around.
First the good: as a keeper, I was really enthralled to see the application actually has a database of saltwater fish with accurate 3D models and information. If ever I want to buy a real fish, I can just take a look.
Now the bad: everything else. The application is well-constructed and easy to use, but it just isn’t fun. At all. I can’t imagine anyone actually booting this up to look at their fish. There are weird omissions, for example you can’t place corals – and why not? They are some of the prettiest things you can put in a tank – there are no invertebrates, most of the important food types are missing and there is no maintenance required. In a nutshell, there is no progression, and thus little reason to come back to it. Worst of all is that there are only a few fish unlocked at the start, and the process of unlocking new fish is simply to wait a few days. It will take an eon to unlock everything. The publishers have also had the cheek to offer paid DLC to acquire certain fish that aren’t in the original download.
I am probably jaded from owning an aquarium, since it is easy to sit and stare at your animals for hours, bond with them, talk to them and enjoy their behaviour and the general feeling during maintenance that you are making your fish happy and giving them a pleasant and healthy environment to live in. My Aquarium evokes no such emotions, and while I never expected it to be anything like a real aquarium, it is not even fun in an EyePet-like way because from day 1 nothing ever changes.
- Pretty fish
- Easy to use
- No replay value
- Unlockables take forever and aren’t based on anything you do
- Lots of missing items you would expect in a virtual aquarium
- Just isn’t particularly fun in the first place
There is nothing wrong with My Aquarium per se. It does what it’s supposed to do. It’s just pretty tedious.