Megaquarium is a management tycoon game created by Twice Circled and Auroch Digital. Become an expert in aquatic life and run your very own theme park by managing tanks and staff all while keeping your fish and guests happy! Megaquarium was previously released on Steam in 2018 with very positive reviews. Now, Megaquarium is available on consoles starting today (October 18th, 2019)! I’d like to thank Auroch Digital for providing us with a Nintendo Switch copy of Megaquarium for the purpose of a review which you can read about below!
In Megaquarium you can choose to play in Sandbox mode where you can play around with settings and random challenges or Campaign mode with 10 levels of main goals and tutorials. You might be thinking it will be easy enough to learn everything on your own if you’re familiar with the genre, however, there’s a lot more to it than just placing fish in tanks! Fish will have very detailed needs and types that will have you taking extreme care with size, temperature and design of your tanks. In the beginning you are very limited with your choices of livestock, equipment and tools and I originally thought the game was slow-moving but the more I unlocked, the more I was thankful for taking smaller steps to make sure I fully understood everything.
Every fish has a number for their size which has to be taken into consideration when building the size of your tank as it will have a maximum amount it can hold. Not only that, the size will factor in when dealing with predators and the possibility of those bigger fish eating the smaller ones. Although, some of those smaller fish may have an extra size added due to their “armor”. Next, you’ll want to know if the fish requires a certain number of plant-life, rocks or shelters so as not to stress them out.
Read all of the information provided because some extra alerts will be important when you start placing different species together. For example, some fish are “wimps” and others are “bullies” and they obviously can’t be placed together. There are also warnings that will outright tell you if the fish are a danger to softer livestock such as starfish or corals. There are also some fussier fish that need to be the only one of their kind in a single tank or others that need to be with a school of fish with a base number to fulfill.
Choosing and Building Tanks
Different styles of tanks will be unlocked the further you play the main game which will mostly be for aesthetic purposes with the exception of the Kreisel tank which is the only one that can be used for jellyfish. All tanks are pre-built with where the window panes for viewing and the walls that are up for privacy will be. Some tanks will go deeper into the floor and others will be tall and need a platform with stairs so your staff can access them. You have control of where you want to place your tank and the size so have an idea of your aquarium layout and design when deciding on which tank to use.
Your fish will either be tropical or cold and need equipment for the tanks accordingly. All tanks will require filters to enhance your water quality. The amount of equipment needed depends on the size you’re using (small, medium, large), as well as which fish and how many you plan to put in that tank. You’ll soon discover that your guests dislike seeing your heaters, chillers, filters and the like, and therefore you’ll need to hide all of it behind walls! This becomes really fun to place when you have access to pumps which can reach tanks from a distance rather than needing to connect your equipment right next to them. Just attach your equipment to pumps, adding more as needed in order to reach all your tanks. Your individual fish will have a number of water quality and temperature minimum in order to survive.
Guest Needs and Prestige
Your prestige comes from happy guests and everything in your aquarium which is important to increase. This will unlock new facilities, tools, decorations, livestock, etc. After a specific amount, you’ll “rank up” which will either give you access to those items right away or allow you to research them. Research adds yet another layer to your choice of fish and decor because all of them will have points that go toward “ecology”, “science”, both or neither. Ecology research allows you to discover new livestock and science research allows you to unlock more or better equipment. Every single guest that views your individual tanks will contribute to adding up all of these points just once. Therefore, even if your fish don’t require plants and decor, fill up your tanks with them anyway to get the most out of them!
You can really go in-depth with the thoughts of your guests, or you can simply look over their heads for handy icons that display whether they need to eat, drink, rest or go to the bathroom. Vending machines (garbage cans to go with them), seating and toilets will do the trick and they don’t take up that much room either! Your decorations can be placed both in tanks and out but I like to keep my aisles clear for my staff to get to places faster and my guests to not wonder around aimlessly. I do wish I could put up paintings or something on the walls but you can at least change the colors as you unlock them. However, doing that is a bit of a pain because you can’t paint multiple walls at the same time.
You’ll need staff first and foremost to feed your fish and fix your equipment when it breaks down. When choosing from a list of a few people you can hire, there are set skills and traits that need your attention. I ignored all of the traits and it hasn’t affected me while playing on “Normal” although I’m sure they have their uses when trying to master the game. What you need to worry about is how many points they already have in the following: Feeding, Fixing, Cleaning, Gift Shop, Talking, etc.
Managing Staff, and Tools
You can adjust the priority of their tasks once you’ve hired them if they are more skilled in specific areas. Eventually you’ll be able to level up your staff and either upgrade their current skills or add new ones. You can also assign them to certain areas but I find that also unnecessary at this stage if you have planned out the layout of your aquarium properly (i.e. tools close by and unobstructed). Also, if you place your equipment behind walls as you should, make sure to create “staff doors” so they can access the rooms.
Everything in this game has been really helpful when indicating in red if something you are trying to do is not going to work out and why. Your staff need to be able to reach all of your equipment and therefore you cannot bunch up everything together. To fix these broken down machines you’ll need to place toolkit stands nearby which allow for only one staff member to use at one time. I find it beneficial to place one toolkit per cluster of pumps and equipment. Your staff will also need brooms for cleaning up trash, sinks for cleaning toilets, among other tools that become available later on. Make sure you have the right food containers out for your fish so your staff can feed them. Again, if your tank needs anything, make sure to pay attention to the icons above them.
Graphics and Animations
At first it bothered me that the background outside of your aquarium is completely bare, however, once I noticed the level of attention to detail of the fish, I’m glad that that’s where the focus was placed. I love tycoon games that allow you to not only have an overhead view, but to zoom in as if you were a guest as well. You can really look inside of your tanks and see your different colored fish move around!
It seems like the developers took extra care in learning the different movements and behaviors of the hundreds of livestock provided. You can really feel like an aquatic-life expert yourself once you have several tanks and fish living in harmony! The guests can use a little more variety in appearance but I find it kind of hilarious when they purchase, say a drink, and there’s a large bottle that appears in front of them while they walk around until they are finished.
Music and Sound
I’m pretty sure there is only one song that continually plays on a loop in the game but I found myself concentrating so hard on making sure none of my fish get eaten that I hardly paid attention. The sound effects are kind of loud and abrupt so I recommend turning that down a little. Since there is quite a lot of text that needs to be read on your screen in several different menus, it can be difficult to see if you’re a potato like me with poor eyesight. It’s a shame that you can’t zoom in on the text and that the menus aren’t color-coordinated to make things much easier.
The amount of intricate gameplay in Megaquarium makes it so that you do not miss taking care of other animals, and rather enjoy specializing in aquatic-life only. With so much to do for your tanks, it can be so much fun designing your entire aquarium! If you’re interested in trying out this game for yourselves, here’s the link for the Nintendo Switch version.