Aquapazza (PS3) Review


If doujin fighting games like Melty Blood, Eternal Fighter Zero, and BIG BANG BEAT Revolve have taught us anything, it’s that eroge readers apparently really love fighters (or just want to punch Clannads in the face). Aquapazza draws upon a multitude of Leaf visual novels for its characters, so it seems like a mainstream continuation of that trend at first glance. However, it bucks the endless juggle combos and constant airdashing so commonly associated with such “anime” fighters and instead opts for a slower, Street Fighter style pace. Developer Examu has made a name for themselves through their Arcana Heart series as solid game designers and expert otaku panderers, but did their experience creating one of the most airdashiest airdashers ever translate to a solid traditional fighter?

About the Game
Release Date: November 19, 2013
Genre: Fighting
ESRB Rating: T for Mild Language, Suggestive Themes, Use of Alcohol, Violence
Platform: PS3
Developer: Examu
Publisher: Atlus (US)

If you’ve played Vanguard Princess, the basic systems of Aquapazza will feel very familiar. In the more likely event that you haven’t, both games are two-on-two fighters with one playable character controlled normally as well as one assist character that stands in the background until you call her for an attack. There are four buttons – Light, Medium, and Heavy correspond to your main character’s attacks, while Assist calls your assist character to perform one of two attacks before going on cooldown for several seconds. Medium+Heavy can also be combined for an even stronger King of Fighters-style blowback attack known as the Heavy Smash which, like blowbacks, can also be used while in guardstun to repel opponents. Combos follow the standard A-B-C cancel chains found in most anime fighters, with maybe a special or super/assist call to extend it a bit – the combos you see in the official trailers are about as long as they get.

Aquapazza may only have 13 characters, but that’s about average for a new franchise – they’re all pretty varied, too, running the gamut of kinda-shoto (Arawn), combo-heavy rushdown (Touka, Chizuru), zoning/spamming (Manaka, Riannon), bullshit grappling (Tamaki), with some characters bleeding into multiple roles – Morgan, an archer, has great mobility and rushdown potential while also being one of the few characters with a projectile. Most characters don’t have any command normals, but almost all characters move differently on a fundamental level – Multi has a KoF-style dodge roll replacing her dash, Sasara has the game’s only air dash, Manaka dashes into a stumble that leads into followup attacks, and Riannon has the floatiest moon jump I’ve ever seen. Adding to the diversity are the 13 assist characters, most of whom give your character additional options to zone, extend combos, or cover up unsafe moves in blockstrings (the latter two requiring some meter to burn, though). Mixing and matching different assists with your character is a great way to explore what your best options are, and can even turn matchups a bit more in your character’s favor.

Random assist calls/falling bikes can open your opponent up.

Random assist calls/falling bikes can open your opponent up.

Overall, the game feels pretty fun to play – it hits the right game speed of being slow paced without being Street Fighter IV levels of boring. Offense is encouraged through the Emotion system, which rewards offensive play with attack and defense bonuses while punishing defensive/Manaka play with penalties to those stats in addition to putting that player near a Guard Crush-able state. There are some concerns about character balance that anyone who’s seen Japanese tournaments of the game may have, but my B-tier Manaka can get netplay Chizurus hooked on phawnics and still get bodied by my friend’s Oboro, so I don’t think it should matter to the majority of players.



The second part of the equation for any modern fighter is netplay, and… it’s there. It’s playable sometimes. Four bar connections can play great, and sometimes three bars won’t suffer from too much lag. It varies, though – most people I’ve played in Ranked were from my own region and resulted in lag that could be described as “Not Completely Awful,” but when I tried to play a friend (a fellow east coaster) in a Player match, we played with a full second of input lag (no, it doesn’t use GGPO or any sort of rollback system, sadly). What’s scarier is that the netcode was apparently far worse in the Japanese release, which received a netplay patch that brought it up to this quality days before the American release came out. It’s disappointing, but as with any fighting game, it’s best played in offline.

The rest of the package is pretty barebones. There are two story modes, but they’re basically glorified arcade modes with some VN-style cutscenes. To sum them up, the pink haired loli somehow warps time and space to bring these unlikely worlds together, and… everyone fights. Then, all the characters go looking for the Yata-no-Kagami (hey, Japanese history lesson!), and… everyone fights. Given Leaf’s history as visual novel writers, you’d think a fighting game based on their properties would have a more fleshed out story mode along the lines of Blazblue or even Guilty Gear, but sadly, that’s all there is. It’s a shame, since many of the characters seem interesting enough to warrant some more story, but I guess that’s where the source material comes in (not that any of the source games have received any official localization, of course).

All I know about Leaf comes from a Comic Party OVA I saw as a kid. Robot maids are perfect, huh?

All I know about Leaf comes from a Comic Party OVA I saw as a kid. Robot maids are perfect, huh?

The translation is at least fairly solid, but it rarely follows the sentence structure of the original Japanese and tries to change difficult-to-translate speech quirks instead of translating them, resulting in a bit of a disconnect between listening to the voices and reading the text. I’m fine with liberal translations, if you weren’t aware, but when the translation has to compete with Japanese voices instead of a dub or no voice, I’d rather try to make it sound like it could fit the dialogue’s length and pauses. There’s also sadly no option for Japanese text, but that’s something that only weebs like me care about anyway.

The Training Mode has all the options and amenities you’d expect from a modern training mode, so I have no complaints with it. I don’t like the lack of a Tutorial mode though, especially since the digital version doesn’t come with a manual – players wanting to learn about the systems and characters are stuck reading Mizuumi or the Aquapazza Wikia. The lack of a Challenge mode is disappointing as well, even if the game isn’t combo-oriented (though each character has two sample combos that can be looked up in Training Mode that give a basic overview of some of that character’s capabilities and how to work with assists).

The Most Moe Character has no need for beams of light.

The Most Moe Character has no need for beams of light.


+ Good gameplay and mechanics
+ Kawaii bishoujos
+ Good Training mode
+ Pretty visuals
+ $30

– Weak Story mode
– No Challenge mode
– Poor netcode
– 言語設定がない

Overall, Aquapazza is a solid, unique fighter in a slightly barebones package (though its $30 price tag somewhat justifies it). For fans of the genre like me, that’s more than enough. Its slow pace and easy execution also make it a good game for beginners to pick up, provided they can find a scene, as the netcode holds the game back a bit. It’s difficult to recommend for anyone who wants some kind of single player experience, but hey, it’s a fighting game.

Final Score: 7.5/10 (The game’s great at being a fighter, but it’s a bit lacking as a package)

You can play as this motherfucker, by the way.

This guy fucks bitches. Do you?

Posted by airco under PS3, Video Game Reviews | Permalink

19 Responses to “Aquapazza (PS3) Review”

  1. Ernas says:

    I’m just disappointed that they didn’t put any 君が呼ぶ、メギドの丘で characters in.

  2. gayguy says:

    fuck that dude, just play bbcp

  3. Kyhz says:

    Fuck the netplay Tamaki army. I know where you live.

    • airco says:

      I’ve fought like two Tamakis so far. It’s all Chizuru around here, and none of them seem to realize that 66C doesn’t go through BOOKZ.

      • Mikuru//X says:

        Well, you’ve been playing some rather bad Chizuru’s. I’m the only highest ranked US Chizuru player as of right now (the highest ranked US player uses Sasara) and oh yeah, 66C does go through bookshelf if you position and time it right.

        • airco says:

          I don’t doubt that I’ve played bad Chizurus (especially since I imagine Chizurus have gotten better in the four months since I posted that comment), but I was referring to her book projectiles. The slow startup on Manaka’s bookshelves makes it difficult to catch Chizuru mid dash with them, and she’ll go right through counter bookshelves even after landing a hit.

  4. hitthefan says:

    too many wives

    • AMg says:

      Hey, what do you expect from guy who is a Demon Overlord? He has a battle harem to boot. Hell, every leader figure in Leaf franchise has harem that function as his wives, his legal & administration consult and his personal raiding party.

  5. veer says:

    I forgot this came out and $30 for a PS3 game is quite a deal!

    Any bets this will replace Melty Blood on EVO?

    • airco says:

      >Anime at EVO

      Mr. Wizard only begrudgingly allows a single Arcsys game per year, and even that gets put on Friday. You seriously expect this game to make a showing?

    • Kyhz says:

      Melty hasn’t been at EVO since 2010. Also there is no way this is going to be a main stage event.

  6. Mikuru//X says:

    This is why I don’t even bother with paying attention to EVO because Mr.Wizard is bias against mostly anything not Capcom or Namco or SNK.

  7. John Doe says:

    [sillycomment]The game developers probably mispelled the product title, it should infact be “AcquapazzA” ([/sillycomment]

    • Xythar says:

      The characters are all from franchises published by Aquaplus so I think this is a case of thatsthejoke.jpg

    • airco says:

      The Aquapazza in the story actually was a crazy water that blended all the worlds together.

      Still a stupid name though.