Aqua Lungers is a fast-paced, action-brawler, chaotic side-scrawler of sorts. Basically, you pick a brightly colored diver character, and fight against various sea monsters with the goal of collecting as much treasure as you can until you reach three-thousand gold. Each course gets increasingly more complicated as you progress through the levels and islands. The final level of each island has you battle the “boss” sea creature. Before this stage, the main sea monster is not only unkillable, but is always trying to kill your character. At the same time, it is competing with you for the sunken loot. Any attacks by this monster are always a one-shot kill for your character unless you don certain power-ups (i.e. shield).
In the later stages, other obstacles such as fireballs, zap missiles, and miscellaneous deadly projectiles are also a one-shot kill on your character. This only adds to the high-speed mayhem of each course, and forces you to adopt new strategies to beat each level. This may involve prioritizing attacks and stealing loot from enemies, utilizing your speed and mobility to outpace your opponents, or making use of the powerup items scattered throughout each stage. Whichever the strategy, the game is won by whoever reaches three-thousand gold first. However, it’s not so simple as merely collecting the gold— you must also navigate your haul back to your treasure chest and deposit what you collected. Your amount of gold per carry will cap out. You must make several trips back into the stage depths to reach three-thousand.
Where Aqua Lunger truly shines is in its multiplayer mode. In fact, it’s clear within a few minutes of playing that the game is designed with the intention of competing in local co-op, with friends and family. Each player starts with a number of lives depending on the stage, but even after expending those lives, you can keep respawning; the catch— each life will now cost you in gold. This is where the game can especially get quite competitive, as with each level the chaos increases as well as the frustration. Even in single-player mode, the game offers quite the challenge. After the initial few stages, the levels get difficult; soon, you are faced with rapidly dodging ubiquitous missiles and attacks while also trying to complete your objective!
The game is easy to learn, using only a few buttons. Besides moving and jumping, the only controls are the attack-button (holding down for lunge), and the “special attack” button. This comprises power-ups that your character can find and acquire, loosely hidden in each stage.
While this game definitely plays like a fast-paced action chaos-centered arena, the controls can feel clunky at times. The stages are made frustrating by the lack of mobility with your character, wherein certain instances it feels the lunges either take too long to charge up or the lunge itself falls short of the target. This causes one of the central attacks and character mobility controls to feel less effective than it should be. Additionally, attempting to jump from the water back onto land can feel like a feat in itself. The jump occasionally seems to stick and prevent your character from effectively navigating the platform. The special attack feature also felt underwhelming throughout the stages. The only notable power-up was the shield, which offered decent resistance temporarily. Take into account‚ you must also factor in that the more gold you are carrying, the slower your character.
These little details- which are not a problem in the beginning stages, but will frustrate in the later ones -keep the game from feeling as smooth as it should.
That being said, the game pacing is well-adapted to an action-packed arena that capitalizes on multiplayer fun. I would have liked to see an online player option or the ability to add multiple computer-controlled characters for a more fulfilling single-player experience. However, in the later stages I did find that the sea monsters and course obstacles proved a more than fair challenge to enjoy (the final stages are actually a brutal challenge).
The soundtracks were engaging and matched the adventurous atmosphere of each stage. The art style is also surprisingly intriguing— it looks like a standard cartoon variety art at first glance, with vibrant color schemes that make the game pop. However, upon further delving into the stages, the uniqueness of the art style becomes more apparent. Specifically, via the design of the main sea monsters, and the usage of shadow and blur integrated into the background of each stage. Each island and stage also felt new and fresh, with varying themes and sea monsters. With only three stages per island and one final boss battle at the end of each island, the game progression moved along nicely, despite the simplicity of the final goal. There are several islands to enjoy with themes ranging from tropical to desert and spooky.
Overall, I found myself playing through quite a few stages all at once without getting bored. Throw in the local co-op, and this game is certain to be a hit at any game night or party. All-in-all, while the single-player mode is fun in short bursts, the multiplayer mode steals the spotlight. For what this game strives to accomplish, it is easily a title anyone can pick up and enjoy.
Aqual Lungers is available on the eShop now.
Special thanks to WarpedCore Studio for the game review code!