Clockwork Aquario Review thumbnail

Clockwork Aquario Review

A restored arcade treasure

A.J. Maciejewski

Reviewed by playing a PS4 on

Clockwork Aquario is also available for Xbox One and Nintendo Switch

Clockwork Aquario is rated Everyone by the ESRB

Scheduled for release back in the early '90s, the cancelled Clockwork Aquario is now back and ready for some fun-filled 2D arcade action.

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Clockwork Aquario screenshot 1
Elle Moon jetpacks to her favourite fishing spot

The '90s were full of amazing arcade games and Clockwork Aquario definitely fits right in with its cartoonish visuals and unconventional gameplay which the era was renowned for. After picking your character from the 3 available, you go on an adventure to thwart the dastardly Dr. Hangyo. Along your journey, you'll run and jump around tricky stages and fight a boss at the end of each. However, this is no ordinary 2D platformer as you can pick up enemies after stunning them then throw them around. There are other nifty mechanics, too, such as balloons that you can pop for bonus points, gems that grant you an extra life after collecting enough, and a special power-up that lets you shoot. All of this comes together to make for one enjoyable and unique journey that you'll be happy you took part in. v1d30chumz 34-239-154-240

Clockwork Aquario's bosses are fun to take on because they're so wacky and have tricky movement patterns. To defeat them, you can either chip away at their health by strategically launching their minions at them or you can simply keep mashing the attack button while jumping around. The latter tactic is actually feasible considering you'll win much faster but you might take a bit more damage. 😅

Even though Clockwork Aquario is a lot of fun to play solo, its unconventional gameplay is even more enjoyable as you play cooperatively with a friend. What makes it more exciting is that you can pick each other up and throw each other around the levels which can either be used strategically or to mess with the other player. Either way, it's a lot of fun and makes the already frantic gameplay even more so.

Clockwork Aquario screenshot 2
Huck Londo takes on Dr. Hangyo and his new penguin-mobile

Clockwork Aquario is a wonderful-looking game with big and bright sprites that really pop off the colourful backgrounds. It's one of those old-school arcade games that could easily have a cartoon adaptation because of just how imaginative and lighthearted it is. Meanwhile, the music is very early '90s arcade-sounding with energetic electronic tunes that feature upbeat melodies. The music blends well with the sound effects, too, especially the character vocalisations as you smash enemies around and pop balloons. Great stuff indeed! 😊

There may be a lot of fun to be had within Clockwork Aquario but it is an exceptionally short game with only a handful of brief stages to master so once you get accustomed to its gameplay, you can easily complete it within one short session. The only substantial replay incentives come in the form of trophies if you're playing the PS4 version which will task you with popping a certain number of balloons and defeating thresholds of enemies per stage as well as completing the campaign with each character. However, the characters all generally play the exact same with a simple jump and attack so doing so can feel rather tedious. Another downside is that there are plenty of frustrating moments when you take damage due to some unwanted surprise like an enemy rapidly emerging from off-screen.

Finally, Clockwork Aquario features some welcome additions such as different difficulty settings and the ability to play the goofy co-op mini-game from the main menu. You also get an authentic Arcade Mode where you can toggle DIP switches to change various settings. Last but not least, there's a gallery of images and concept art and you can also listen to the original and remixed soundtracks. 🎵

Clockwork Aquario screenshot 3
Gush targets a giant enemy crab's weak point for massive damage

There's no denying how wonderful it is that a long-lost arcade gem was completed and released nearly 30 years later and Clockwork Aquario certainly provides enough frantic fun that you'll come back whenever you want a quick fix of over-the-top retro action.

  • + Solid retro 2D action with an enjoyable pick-up-and-throw mechanic
  • + Delightful visuals, artwork, and music
  • + Co-op play is frantic and fun
  • - Extremely short campaign with only a handful of brief levels to master
  • - Surprise attacks can feel unfair
7.5 out of 10
Gameplay video for Clockwork Aquario thumbnail
Watch A.J. play Clockwork Aquario
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