Aquapazza First Look

The anime fighter is finally making its way to U.S. shores.

Aquapazza, also known as Aquapazza: Aquaplus Dream Match in Japan, is a 2D fighting game that has seen heavy rotation in Japanese arcades since its 2011 release. The game has been updated several times in arcades, and was released in Japan on the PlayStation 3 in 2012. Now, over two years after its initial arcade release, Aquapazza finally makes its way to the US, thanks to some localization done by the folks at Atlus.

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Some of you may not be familiar with the source material of Aquapazza, and that’s not a bad thing. The characters in the game come from the adult entertainment side of anime and manga in Japan. However, the game is only rated T for Teen, and doesn’t feature anything too over the top. In fact, it’s safe to say that Dead or Alive and Soul Calibur show more skin than Aquapazza.

The gameplay style of Aquapazza is more akin to Guilty Gear, BlazBlue or Persona 4 Arena than most other 2D fighters. There are 13 characters that players can choose from, along with another 13 characters that can be used as partners, or assists if you will. There’s a fairly standard three-bar super system (power gauge) that allows access to your partner, as well as super attacks and other gameplay mechanics.

The assist system is moderately similar to the assists in the Marvel vs. Capcom series, but there are some notable differences. When you cancel an attack or guard into an assist command, it costs one bar of your power gauge. This opens up a vast array of tactics due to the fact that you can cancel guard stun or an attack animation, and immediately attack with your partner.

In addition, there are three types of partners you can choose from. Standby partners remain in one position on-screen until you command them to do something. Follow partners will follow your character around at all times. Special partners do not appear on-screen at all until you command them to do something. The Special partners are the closest thing to assists in Marvel vs. Capcom, while Follow partners are more akin to assists in Jojo’s Bizarre Adventure or Persona 4 Arena.

There’s also a guard crush system, complete with two features known as Impact Guard and Resist Smash. Impact Guard is your just-guard technique. If you block just as the opponent attacks (think of it like a last second block), it prevents chip damage and stops an opponent from guard-breaking you. Resist Smash uses one bar of your power gauge, but cancels your block into a Heavy Smash. A Heavy Smash knocks the opponent against a wall, bouncing them off the wall and allowing you to follow with a combo.

Aquapazza also features an Active Emotion System, which essentially acts as a comeback factor, as well as incentive to be less defensive. There are three emotional states: high, low and normal. When using Impact Guard, or playing aggressively, your character enters a high emotional state. This increases their damage by up to 15 percent. However, if you’re turtling up and playing defensively, you’ll enter a low emotional state, lowering your defense by 30 percent, and making it easier for an opponent to perform a guard break.

Fighting game fans will be able to get their hands on Aquapazza on November 19. The game will release in both digital and retail forms for the bargain price of $29.99. Atlus has localized the title, but the game still features Japanese voices. There’s also no word on if the netcode will be improved or changed for the US release of the game.

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Bryan Dawson
Bryan Dawson has an extensive background in the gaming industry, having worked as a journalist for various publications for nearly 20 years and participating in a multitude of competitive fighting game events. He has authored over a dozen strategy guides for Prima Games, worked as a consultant on numerous gaming-related TV and web shows and was the Operations Manager for the fighting game division of the IGN Pro League.