hot  /  reviews  /  videos  /  cblogs  /  qposts

Neo Aquarium

Review: Neo Aquarium: King of Crustaceans

5:00 PM on 08.18.2012 // Fraser Brown

Neo Aquarium is weird. That was all I knew about the game when I started it up. Well, that and the fact that it features crabs with lasers. No more needed to be known, I thought -- this was going to be wonderful. I should have known better; the sea only brings trouble. 

Scrapping with all sorts of underwater life brought me no joy, but plenty of laser-caused headaches. This is a game with layers, and underneath its zaniness and absurdity lies another, crustier layer. It's the layer of a bad game. 

Neo Aquarium: King of Crustaceans (PC)
r: Nussoft
Publisher: Nussoft
Release Date: August 3, 2012
MSRP: $8.99

Since humans are generally awful, apparently, we've been getting up to no good in the future. It's millions of years in the future, to be more specific, yet still completely non specific. Using subspatial transfer technology, humanity has been taking parts of the sea, and plonking them in these new-fangled neo aquariums. 

Due to science and other sensible things, sea life has evolved to have deadly weapons of mass destruction and lasers. Lots and lots of lasers. Crustaceans in particular have been affected, making them the big kahunas of these little pockets of ocean. With chips on their pincers, these little buggers now fight for dominance in a crab-eat-crab world. It's a dark time, apart from when everything is lit up like a laser battle in a disco.

Such a bizarre premise really demands a story mode, or at least some sort of explanation, but you only get one of these. The story mode, and eventually the unlocked ex mode, piles on the craziness and only leads to confusion, and eventually madness. Each battle is prefaced by a quote, usually discussing philosophy, quantum physics, and biology with the irreverence of a stoned teenager. Here's an explanation of how crustaceans developed explosives: "[They were] able to create unique aqua explosives through use of special bacteria, irritation, and Wikipedia." 

The bouts themselves are absent any real context, and basically just involve you moving through an arch and then fighting other crustaceans. As I tore into yet another crab, I started to wonder if there was some backstory to our rivalry. Were the lobster and the crab once friends, only to be torn apart by competition and the need to survive in the harsh world of the neo aquarium? Potentially tragic stuff, to be sure. 

The option to control crustaceans via keyboard is a horrible joke. Try it and the game will mock your impotent attempts to maneuver underwater life. The gamepad alternative is a significant improvement, though a better explanation of the controls and mechanics would have been nice -- it's not particularly intuitive. Most of the combatants have a simple laser and pincer attack, but they have a fair few tricks up their sleeves... or in their shells. Homing missiles, ghost tentacles, armies of possibly sentient pincers, even the ability to detach their limbs make these guys bloody deadly. Some of them can even pick up rocks! Everything is weak against rocks, apart from paper and some Pokémon.

When their cosmically fueled powers aren't quite up to the task, the gladiators can also enlist the aid of their underwater brethren. Struggling to kill that pesky submarine? How about an army of sea anemones and a bunch of sea cucumbers? They are powered by physics. 

Battles are exceedingly short, but damn do they feel long. The floaty, slow movements on the characters do not make for the most intense battles, nor does running around in a circle shooting each other, but that's what it usually boils down to. While there's potential for tactics, with broken limbs being regenerated through shell shedding at the cost of power, and gathering allies from the sea floor, it never really goes anywhere. Once you get over the novelty of playing a barnacle who can only move by reproducing, or scuttering along sideways as a crab, it's actually pretty boring. 

If you've seen any screenshots or trailers then the cat's already out of the bag -- this is one ugly game. The term eyesore was coined for just such a creation; one devoid of any aesthetically pleasing features. Everything from the murky water to the freakish animation made me just want to close my eyes. I'm actually thankful that the game was stuck on a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning less of my screen needed to be soiled. The overall presentation is equally hideous, the HUD being something I would have cringed if encountered even a decade ago. 

The only draw here is the wacky nature of the title, and even that starts to become a little tired. Unlocking the ability to play as a scuba diver or submarine was a motivation to keep playing, but they are just as little fun to take control of as the lobsters and crabs. Saying that it's at its best when you're just watching it should be a testament to how joyless playing it is, because it's not particularly nice to look at either. It can be funny in its oddness, but it fails to ascend to actually being fun. There is a demo, which pretty much gives you all the experience you need of Neo Aquarium.

[Neo Aquarium is available for purchase on Playism.]



Neo Aquarium - Reviewed by Fraser Brown
Insulting - I feel mocked by this game. It's engaging for just long enough to pull the rug out from under me and scream in my ear, "surprise! I suck!"

See more reviews or the Destructoid score guide.

Fraser Brown, Former Contributor
 Follow Blog + disclosure FraserIBrown Tips
Fraser Brown is that bearded, bespectacled Scotsman that covers PC gaming who is not Alasdair Duncan. Got a splinter stuck in his hand nineteen years ago and just left it in there. True story. ... more   |   staff directory

 Setup email comments

Unsavory comments? Please report harassment, spam, and hate speech to our moderators, and flag the user (we will ban users dishing bad karma). Can't see comments? Apps like Avast or browser extensions can cause it. You can fix it by adding * to your whitelists.

 Add your impressions

Status updates from C-bloggers

Mike Martin avatarMike Martin
I'm watching you.
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
SkarKrow avatarSkarKrow
Work noooooooooooooooooo D:
The Dyslexic Laywer avatarThe Dyslexic Laywer
I had such a awkward time playing Catherine because it shared the same name as my mother....
JayDGee avatarJayDGee
Broforce is coming out of early access on the 15th. I had no Idea it was an early access game.
James Internet Ego avatarJames Internet Ego
I have now played all 3 Witcher games. My verdict: Witcher 1 - alright, aged badly, lots of sex. Witcher 2 - good, very short, not much sex at all. Witcher 3 - Excellent in every way.
ikiryou avatarikiryou
I really wish MGO had been implemented with free-roam gameplay PMC (clan) setup instead of the standard matchmaking. Imagine roaming bands of PMC's opposing each other on the battlefield. How sexy would that be?
SkarKrow avatarSkarKrow
Playing Shantae & The Pirates Curse, must say I'm loving it for the most part, barring the odd WHERE AM I D: moment
JayDGee avatarJayDGee
Added a humble code to my steam account when I already had the game. Purely because the soundtrack was attached. Now I see it on 2 friends wishlists. They must never know.
SkarKrow avatarSkarKrow
Okay so what 2, 3, 4 years later I bothered to finish. Now to write up that blog on why FFXIV lost my love by never challenging me and see if it's actually interesting...
FlanxLycanth avatarFlanxLycanth
What's up with taking your phone or a magazine to the toilet? Y'all need more fibre in your diet, why should a toilet visit take more than 2 minutes? What are you people doing with your asses.
Pixie The Fairy avatarPixie The Fairy
Finished Momohime/Jinkuro's story in Muramasa last night. I always liked that ending. I didn't know there were more endings, though. On to Kisuke's story!
OrochiLeona avatarOrochiLeona
It feels like each day I get up, do the rounds of my bookmarks, and am immediately brought down by kneejerk hate: new stuff, old stuff, last nights stuff, 2moros stuff, a game, a film, TV. Critical thinking is fine, but dang, pure cynicism's winning :(
Vuster avatarVuster
Rpg Maker MV is coming soon O: I mean I am overjoyed but... I JUST GOT USE TO VX ACE!! Either way, I intend to do a form of quick summery of the features on release o:
Flegma avatarFlegma
Nintendo's(?) weekly SMM level picks: [url][/url] - scroll down a bit for the list. I wish I didn't need to type in the level ID myself, though.
Shinta avatarShinta
Metal Gear Online, Day 2. The maps in this game are amazing. Try out all 3 classes, because they're all pretty different. Really getting the hang of the game now.
Jay Escobar avatarJay Escobar
Video game voice actors are threatening to go on strike if EA, Activision, Disney, WB, and others refuse to pay them the necessary bonuses (
GoofierBrute avatarGoofierBrute
I love how Final Fantasy Record Keeper is making a big deal about being able to unlock FF XII's Vaan. I do get to unlock Ashe though, so that's cool.
gajknight avatargajknight
Just put in my pre-order for Dragon Quest Heroes: The Thing in The Thing with The Thing. Good times, hope it doesn't disappoint! Like I do. With everyone.
Terry 309 avatarTerry 309
You know you've played a good JRPG when the ending makes you sad...
more quickposts


destructoid's previous coverage:
Neo Aquarium

View all:powered by:  MM.Elephant

Ads on destructoid may be purchased from:

Please contact Crave Online, thanks!


Invert site colors

  Dark Theme
  Light Theme

Destructoid means family.
Living the dream, since 2006

Pssst. konami code + enter

modernmethod logo

Back to Top

We follow moms on   Facebook  and   Twitter
  Light Theme      Dark Theme
Pssst. Konami Code + Enter!
You may remix stuff our site under creative commons w/@
- Destructoid means family. Living the dream, since 2006 -