In a world of Tycoon games, I am honestly shocked that getting an aquarium building game has taken this long. Megaquarium, out now on PlayStation 4, offers gamers the chance to create and renovate their way through ten scenarios and learn more than we think we know about our fishy friends.
Fish Are Friends AND Food
We start off slow and steady. And not just because eventually we’ll unlock a vibrant green turtle for our aquarium. There are quite a few basics to learn, such as proper heating and filtration for our tropical swimmers. Next up, we get our starter fish set up in some basic tanks and hire staffers to feed them and maintain the machinery. Each of these species has specific needs, likes and dislikes that you will need to pay attention to as you expand and work to increase your Prestige. Sometimes you can house a few types together. But there are bullies who will attack and eat wimps and smaller fish which means careful planning. The game is great in that it will alert you to unsafe conditions in a tank when you are placing fish. Maybe the other inhabitants are a threat, or perhaps you don’t have enough plant life.
With ten aquarium levels providing unique challenges, there’s quite a bit to do. And there is no rush to move onto the next challenge, either. In addition to the main goal for each aquarium, you will receive bonus challenges in your mailbox. Accepting these gives you the chance to earn things like bonus Prestige, new wildlife, or amenities. Completing these are not necessary to clear the level but de-fin-itely help you get there.
Welcome to the Shark Tank
Megaquarium does a pretty great job of introducing new elements once you’ve mastered the previous steps. Our first endeavours teach us how to use our Ecology points to spend on researching new fish. From there, Science points are added; these points will let us unlock new tanks, machinery, and amenities for our guests. As you spend both of these to improve your business, your overall Prestige will grow and open up new research opportunities.
One of the ways to keep your guests happy is to bombard them with all the merchandise you can cram in. There are pop machines and fro-yo kiosks, balloons and silly shark hats. They also seem to really love the luxury toilets I spent so much time (and cash) on. Check on their thoughts to see where you can improve. Watch to see when negative Prestige markers pop over their heads. Perhaps you don’t have enough benches placed or you’ve put the same fish in too many different tanks.
Managing your employees is another great way to make sure guests are all smiles. As your business grows, so do your needs. You’ll need more staff to feed and fix machines behind the scenes, people to make sure the restrooms and pathways are clean, and shelves are well stocked. Hire people based on what your current needs are and eventually you will be fully staffed. You can also create zones for them to remain focused on. One such zone that I created meant a dedicated staff member for a shark tank I had built. She was responsible for feeding, fixing, and giving daily talks to the public. Meanwhile, my cleaners and other front-facing employees I’ve kind of left on their own, allowing them the chance to hustle to spills, fill bins, and give other chats as they need to. When it comes to my tanks, though, I have made sure at least one feeder and one fixer is there at all times. A broken tank or dead fish equals a drop in Prestige.
Exit Through the Gift Shop
Megaquarium does suffer from some minor issues, one of which is an awful audio error. I first encountered this metallic screech while I was building up level 3 of the campaign. It causes the audio to spike and really hurts the ears. In trying to pinpoint when exactly this occurs, all I can think is that placement audio isn’t playing when it should and then plays all of the audio simultaneously. I did report this bug to Auroch Digital as soon as I encountered it, hoping that it might result in a release date patch. Fingers crossed we see one ASAP.
The only other big issue I’ve run into is the game crashing. I have two theories as to why my game has blue screened; the first of which is that I am placing items too quickly for it to keep up with me. The second is that as my audio issues increase, they are compounding and causing the crashes. So this is your reminder to save often.
Megaquarium is a fintastic game to relax and unwind with at the end of a long day. I like to couple that with some of my favorite sushi rolls, but to each their own. Here I am, nine levels later and still having a lot of fun trying to make the best aquarium ever. Sure, nothing I design will ever rival the Georgia Aquarium, the world’s largest aquarium and one I have been to a few times, but that doesn’t mean I’ll stop trying. There’s only one more level for me to tackle, and my fingers are crossed that I can finally get some dolphins to do elaborate hoop routines while whistling the US national anthem for me.
Megaquarium review code provided by publisher. Version 1.00 reviewed on a standard PlayStation 4. For more information on scoring please see our Review Policy.