Aqua Panic! - iOS Review

   01/12/2010 at 09:30       Drew Bower       7 COMMENTS. - Score 4/5
 - BulkyPix, iPhone Review, Aqua Panic, Eko Software, Lemmings

When a game comes along described as Lemmings with water and has an art style similar to Loco Roco, you begin to get excited. Aqua Panic tasks you with controlling the flow of water via many different tools and manipulations in order for fish to travel safely back into the ocean.

Aqua Panic has seen life on quite a few platforms already – DS, PSN and Wii. Now those highly talented guys at BulkyPix have teamed up with developers Eko Software in bringing the game to iOS.

The game begins when a dastardly cyclone sweeps across the ocean and sucks out all of the residing fish. The fish reappear in balloons above a maze of landscapes suspended over a body of water. Once you hit the start button, the balloons begin to pour out the fish in a stream of water. Here your aim is to guide the fish safely back into the ocean using a variety of tools and actions. The sticking point comes with having a target area to guide the stranded fish surrounded on both sides by waiting sharks – which are very toothy and equally as hungry.

Naturally, initial levels start out simple enough and each tool’s use is explained as they are introduced. New tools appear quite regularly especially at the beginning of the game. Tools include seeds which grow into water barriers, bombs to blow holes in the landscape and harpoons to dispose of sleepy enemies. The fishy theme is continued by the entrance of snails which act as open and close valves. Orange shells are manually operated, whilst green snails open and close automatically. The array of tools and objects keep things interesting and bring lots of different puzzle combinations.

As well as guiding the fish to safety, there are the obligatory 3 coins – copper, silver and gold – to try and collect along the way.

To control your tools, a cursor is constantly displayed. Touching anywhere on screen moves the cursor (you don’t have to touch the cursor itself). Scrolling is achieved by using two fingers whilst tools are activated with a double tap of the cursor. As items/tools can only be used in certain spots, the cursor changes from a crosshair to a simple cross to indicate that an item can be used. This is quite hard to see on a iPhone screen and would definitely benefit from clearer indicators.

Initially, I found the controls quite cumbersome and at odds with the fast reactions required to place or use items. However once 10 or so levels in, I got to grips with them and the game became infinitely more enjoyable therein.

Levels are cleverly constructed leading puzzles to become more than just correct item placing. For instance, as water fills up in pockets of land you must carefully time explosions or valves so that the fish don’t overflow into danger. The whole package creates a fast paced, but well thought out puzzle game.

Aqua Panic has bags of charm with a lovely art style and is lots of fun to play. The controls take a little mastering, but once done the game reveals a clever puzzler well worth taking a look at.

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