Aqua World: Umibi Monogatari
I spent some time with this Japanese exclusive tonight, and thought I'd briefly write a little something up about it.
First of all, this isn't a game, but an aquarium simulator and fish edutainment title. You can look at info screens about fish ("Data Fish"); choose different fish for a CGI movie sequence ("Electric Blue"); get fish to, uh, kiss each other ("Options" > Kiss); or populate a tank with the fish of your choosing ("Mermaid").
However, in "Mermaid" mode you can control one of the fish, and this gives it a tiny whiff of something vaguely resembling gameplay. Your fish moves a bit like Ecco the Dolphin, in that one of the buttons makes you dart forward, but you can't turn Ecco-esque flips or send out sonar bursts, alas.
After a while fish food will start dropping into the tank, and if you snag a few pieces, a mermaid will appear (though she looks more like a sea monkey than Ariel). Keep snagging food, and more mermaids of various colors appear. Snag even more, and eventually the screen will fade out and you'll go to a weird sequence where constellations and zodiac signs are displayed alongside images of various fish.
And...that's about it, unless there's something I've missed. It's certainly pretty, with attractive music (though the loop points are occasionally too soon or not quite clean) and graphics that range from very nice to mediocre (you can see a couple screenshots at DP
if you're curious). But as the GOAT Store wrote
about the Saturn version of this title, "Who thought this would sell well? And who bought this before you?"
BTW, the whole thing is very accessible to non-Japanese speakers. Other than parts of a splash screen or two, and the info screens in "Data Fish", everything is in English. The English-language text in the opening credits fades in and out very quickly, almost as though it's only meant as a kind of passing decoration.
Also, I noticed that the "Electric Blue" fish selection screen seems to extend past the bottom of my TV, which makes your selections impossible to see. I'd expect something like this from a PAL exclusive, but it took me by surprise in a Japanese title. Otherwise it runs fine on my American FZ-1, though I noticed a few white glitches in the walls of the opening FMV tunnel -- do those happen on a Japanese system?
Anyway, unless I'm missing something, this really has no value except as a curiosity, or as light entertainment for fish lovers and very young children (who might like Mermaid mode). So, for 3DO completists only. But at least it's inoffensive, and the soundtrack has a couple moments for fans of liquidy ambient/New Age music.