LadiesGamers Clockwork Aquario

Clockwork Aquario Review

Game: Clockwork Aquario
Genre: Action, Arcade
System: Nintendo Switch (also on PS4)
Developer|Publisher: Ratalaika | Strictly Limited Games, ININ Games
Age Rating: EU 3+ | US Everyone
Price: US $19.99 | UK £16.99 | EU € 19,99
Release Date: November 30th, 2021

Review code provided with many thanks to PR Hound.

Another Chance

Clockwork Aquario is a long lost relic in arcade gaming that almost got forgotten to the gaming abyss if it wasn’t for the hard work of dedicated developers and publishers. It was originally developed by legendary designer Ryuichi Nishizawa (known for his work on the Wonder boy/Monster Lair series). This game was developed over a 2 year period and was set to release in arcades in Japan back in the early 90s. A 2D platformer that could be played co-op with colourful graphics seemed like a good fit, but there was a problem. The industry was rapidly changing and 2D was going out of fashion, 3D games, especially fighters, were becoming the new norm. So sadly Clockwork Aquario would be shelved for nearly 30 years.

Time, sadly, is not kind to old games. Code is not stored easily and it seemed that this game really would never see the light of day. But thanks to a very dedicated team the original design and assets were salvaged and the developers recreated the rest from scratch. Finally, the game would be released years later. Not to arcades but to consoles. If you’re a fan of this old era of gaming this is a game you won’t want to miss. 

LadiesGamers Clockwork Aquario
Something fishy is going on here

Colourful and Cartoony 

The story of the game is about taking down the evil Dr Hangyo and his many fishy minions. You can play as  Huck Londo, Elle Moon or a robot called Gush in single or cooperative play. Each character has their gameplay feel so it is worth experimenting with each to find your favourite. 

The graphics for this game are gorgeous. Vibrant colours and lovely sprite detail brought on the smiles quite quickly for me. The style is also very reminiscent of the Wonder boy/Monster Lair series which is always an instant win with me as a long term fan of that series. It feels and sounds like an arcade game, with its catchy tunes and fishy but cartoony sprite design. A design choice I loved was when your character perishes, they float up to the heavens dressed in an angel outfit. But when you select to continue, your character rips the outfit off to return to the fight. Little touches like this are what I miss about the arcade day. My only mild niggle is that your character makes a small noise that starts to become a little repetitive after a while. 

LadiesGamers Clockwork Aquario
Choose your hero

Hit, Stun and Throw

When you start you are given a very brief but useful cutscene. Your chosen character jumps on an enemy to stun it, picks it up and then throws it at an enemy destroying it. Within these very short seconds, you know everything you need to know about the controls and mechanics of the game. From there you are left to work your way through the game’s five levels. Within each level is an assortment of enemies you can stun by slapping them or jumping on their heads. If you throw them and take out multiple enemies it will rack up your high score.

If you take a hit your character’s appearance will change to something a little more dishevelled, take another hit and you lose a life. But not all hope is lost, enemies will regularly drop health potions and sometimes a star-making you temporarily invincible and able to shoot star projectiles out of your hands. It’s pretty awesome when this happens.

LadiesGamers Clockwork Aquario
Star power!

Score Points

Score enough points and you will fill a bar to gain an extra life to keep you in the game a little longer. As well as enemies, the game features some mild platforming where a fall will instantly lose a life, so watch your step. At the end of the level is an oversized boss you need to take on. Holding back and waiting to throw small enemies at it is usually a better strategy, however, if you’re feeling risky you can get up close and personal, hitting it or jumping on its head. No surprise, for me this is where I lost most of my lives.

It’s a very original concept for an arcade game that’s easy to pick up and play for gamers of all skill levels. Sure, it does get challenging, but remember this is a game you would have been inserting more coins in to continue. With enough practice though you may be able to run through this adventure on a single credit. I still need a little more practice before I get that good.

LadiesGamers Clockwork Aquario
Up close and personal is risky business


A single run through the game probably won’t take you more than 30 minutes which is pretty great if you’re looking for a shorter gaming session. It took me a few attempts to see the game’s ending but I instantly wanted to boot the game up and have another run thanks to its intriguing gameplay. Before booting the game you are able to select a difficulty mode, which basically gives you a set number of continues to attempt to complete the game. For some odd reason, the game requires you to finish one of these modes first, before unlocking the free to play feature as well as an interesting feature where you mess around with the arcade dip switches.

Free play mode feels like a feature that some gamers may prefer is available from the start, particularly because the last level of this game is pretty brutal as you would expect for an arcade game. You are also able to boot up a mini-game which is featured only when you play the game in co-op. Other than this it doesn’t offer many additional features with the exception of the usual filters and screen settings. There aren’t even save state options in this game. What it does have that I did appreciate is old artwork of the game and even a moving letter of thanks from the games original designer. 

LadiesGamers Clockwork Aquario
Take one hit and your character looks a dishevelled

Conclusion – Arcade Bliss 

Clockwork Aquario is just a wonderful arcade experience that had me grinning throughout. As a retro gamer and Wonder boy series fanboy this seemed like probably the best early Xmas present I could ask for this year (that’s gaming related). Now putting my fandom to the side I will point out this is a very short arcade game with very minimal extras.

Some may feel this doesn’t justify the price of entry. However, this art style is gorgeous, the game is co-op and the feel-good factors I had playing this more than justifies the praise that this product deserves. Clockwork Aquario may have been deemed unsuitable for the industry back in the day but it sure fits in now and I’m grateful to have been given the opportunity to experience it.

Final Verdict: Two Thumbs Up

Two thumbs up 


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