|Release: August 30, 2012|
|Screen Resolution: 480p-1080p|
by Angelo M. D’Argenio
Aquapazza is a brand new fighting game from arcade developer Examu that combines characters from To Heart, Utawarerumono, and Tears to Tiara. If you have no idea what these things are, don't worry; you aren't alone. These are all titles from Aquaplus and Leaf, two companies who produce Japanese anime and manga, which doesn't necessarily get localized here in the States. In fact, Aquapazza itself hasn't been localized here in the states. Still, PSN is region-free, so you can get this legitimately without any modifications to your PS3.
Aquapazza has been making a splash in the pro fighting game community, even though it hasn't officially come out here in North America. Though the game has been described as "painfully anime," its mechanics more than back it up as a tournament fighter.
The basics are pretty much identical to every other fighting game you have played in the past. The first person to deplete their opponent's health to 0 wins. However, Aquapazza's health bars are more similar to the health management you found in Vampire Savior than anything else. Though your health bar needs to be depleted twice to lose a match, rounds don't reset once a single health bar has been lost. You simply have two health bars overlapping each other, one green and one yellow, and your opponent retains whatever health advantage he has after your green bar has been depleted.
The buttons in the game are fairly basic. Aquapazza uses a four-button layout, assigning buttons to weak attack, medium attack strong, attack, and assist attack. But assists in Aquapazza don't work the same way they do in Capcom's vs. series. Instead, there is an entirely separate roster of assist characters that you choose from in conjunction with your main character. Pressing the assist button calls out your assist character to attack, and using commands with the assist button triggers assist special moves.
Like most anime fighters, weak attack automatically cancels into medium attack, which automatically cancels into strong attack, and this is the basis of every combo in the game. Normals can cancel into specials, and specials can cancel into supers—once again, like most other anime fighters out there. To perform a super, you simply use some motion with A+B at the same time. Supers use one stock of your five-stock super meter. Characters also have special level 3 supers, which use three stocks and are much more powerful.
In addition to the normal things you can spend meter on in this game, you can also spend meter to perform two other special maneuvers. When blocking, you can spend meter to do a counter move that immediately hits the opponent out of block-stun. You can also spend meter to do "assist cancels," which essentially cancel any of your normal or special attacks into an assist attack. This returns your character to neutral very fast, allowing your unsafe moves to become safe and opening up new combo opportunities.
Movement is a very important part of Aquapazza. Unlike other fighting games, movement is not standardized. Certain characters can jump, super jump, run, hop, dash, and perform all sorts of special movements that wouldn't otherwise be available.
Important to note is that no characters are able to air-dash, which is usually a staple of air-dash fighters. This tends to make Aquapazza run at a slightly slower speed than fighting games such as BlazBlue or Guilty Gear. It also means that you are slightly less safe in the air than you are in other fighting games.
Unlike other fighting games, both damage and health are standardized across all characters in Aquapazza. Everyone's normals do the same amount of damage, and everyone takes the same amount of hits to die. The only differences lie in specific move properties and how these create different combo opportunities. The result of this standardized damage is an interesting game balance that makes it hard to get ahead or behind based on your damage output. Instead, each character and assist is rated by how useful their tools are and how easy it is to utilize their particular tool set.
Another interesting twist that Aquapazza throws at you is the active emotion system. The active emotion system essentially allows your characters to become more or less powerful as the match goes on. If you manage to remain aggressive, striking at your opponent and dealing damage when you can, your characters will eventually enter an emotion-up state. In this state they will do extra damage with all of their attacks, and some of their attacks will even change to special powered-up versions of themselves. Attacks will also do additional hit-stun in this state, opening up new combo opportunities, and you'll take less damage if your opponent manages to hit you.