Aqua Lungers sounds like one of those 80s/90s cartoons that happens to have a production line of toys that you just have to own.
Only, it’s not that at all. Instead, an indie couch play title encouraging players to pinch treasure from shipwrecks, aggravate the local fish communities and poke any other players with a nasty spear.
Sounds oh-so cricket, right?
Let’s have a looksie at this multiplayer in…dun dun daaahhh…
Aqua Lungers Switch Review
When I first wrote the news piece, I mentioned that the artwork was pretty decent for a first attempt, and here, in real life, the game does not disappoint.
I’m quite tired of pixel art – not that I’m anti; it’s just overly used in indie titles (though I get why), so seeing Aqua Lungers, from WarpedCore Studio, in this glorious hand-drawn technicolour blanket of marine life was wicked.
But what about the gameplay? What’s it all about? Tell me about the character arcs and plot devices.
If you came here looking for a narrative-driven title, you’re going to be disappointed as this is an action only title.
You can either opt as a solo campaign or with up to three other players in your effort to collect a set number of treasure before other players, or before you die.
Time Is Of The Essence
There’s no time limit in the Aqua Lungers, as such. However, there are boss-type enemies in every single stage that will steadily swallow up the treasure.
Pending you don’t die at all, even if you pull up a deckchair and bathe in the sun, eventually the boss will collect more than you and it’s game over.
So while there is a sense of urgency to collect the treasure before the other players, or if playing solo, to outwit the enemies, Aqua Lungers never feels chaotic – unlike similar multiplayer titles where you have no idea what’s going on.
Most of the locations are really well illustrated – the style is sharp, unlike pixel art variants where characters merge with backgrounds. In this game, it’s clear where you are and what you’re doing.
I don’t share the same enthusiasm for the music. The initial stages had a little Monkey Island vibe to them, but some of the later levels – including boss specific missions were a bit generic.
No Breathing Apparatus Required
Despite the title, you spend about as much time in the water as you do on land.
The routine usually is head to the sea bed by bashing the B button to lunge forward when swimming, locate a shipwreck and repeatedly spear it with your, ahem, spear.
In between points A and B, there’ll be a few mediocre enemies that take one or two hits to kill that will get in your way. If they are able to get you, you’ll drop some loot and have to go back to get it (the same happens with other players as they can hinder your progress by poking you).
Other than your spear, there will be power-ups available such as bombs, projectile spears and sheild bubbles.
You can find these on land and also from drops. They aren’t a necessity for the standalone enemies, but the bosses are invincible so using a power-up will stagger them enough to get past.
Like A Boss
As mentioned, the bosses are on every level and you can’t kill them, just stun them enough to complete your mission.
You can get away without ‘getting involved’, but at the end of each world, i.e. the sea levels, desert, ice etc, you’ll have to complete a boss battle which involves furiously stabbing them with your spear.
This isn’t always effective, so you can use the power-ups. Shields are indispensible however as…
…they can one-hit-kill you.
I didn’t realise until later in the game that this applies throughout as they fire these projectiles that will instantly kill. The reason I didn’t notice so much was that the game was pretty easy at first.
But, when you get deeper into the game, the difficulty creeps in and playing solo takes its toll.
Switching over to the local multiplayer, it worked much better as pending the other player(s) is on the same wavelength, you can take turns at goading the enemies, while the other gets the loot.
Collect all the loot in the stage and you complete the mission.
I should have made a note, but I believe you have three lives in each round, and once you die, you restart the stage again. Not a biggie, but with the boss stages, I found myself have to use continues.
Sink Or Swim
The difficulty of the game doesn’t spike in an unnatural way, and goes at a relatively organic pace, but as mentioned, it’s easier with another player.
Besides, it’s more fun with someone else, or splitting into teams as a four player and watch the arguments on ‘friendly-fire’ when that supposedly accidental poke that causes you to drop your load creates further tension in the room.
When it comes to accessibility, Aqua Lungers is very accommodating for new and casual gamers to begin with; simple controls, easy to see what’s on-screen and no tricky combos or hi-scores to achieve.
But aside from changing the name and colour of your player, there’s not much on offer when it comes to features and game modes, so if you’re expecting variety, you’ll be leaving a little disappointed.
The base game, while a little repetitive – more so when on your tod, is fun and an easy to pick up and certainly not one of these couch play novelty-types that seem to be flooding the eShop.