Clockwork Aquario – Review
Follow Genre: Action platformer
Developer: Westone
Publisher: Strictly Limited Games
Platforms: PS4, Switch
Tested on: Switch

Clockwork Aquario – Review

Site Score
Good: Classic arcade feel, Lovely retro graphics are a treat
Bad: Very short and not a lot of replay vallue
User Score
(1 votes)
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VN:F [1.9.22_1171]
Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)

Clockwork Aquario is proof that any game lost in developmental hell can still make it to release someday. Back in 1992, famous arcade game developer Westone started the project, only to abandon it a year later and move on to other things. Almost thirty more years passed since then and here we are reviewing the game, with Strictly Limited Games being the ones to purchase the rights from Sega and finally complete Clockwork Aquarino as intended. They even got the original Westone staff to chip in where the original code had been lost, meaning this is as authentic as you could possibly get for a previously canceled title being revived. The only difference is we’re using a console instead of an arcade machine.


In typical arcade game fashion, there isn’t a lot of plot to speak of. Some generic text gets thrown at us about mad scientists and saving the world, but if you’re hoping for deeper lore on the characters or an engaging storyline, Clockwork Aquario is not the place to find it. While these games are usually not story-driven, the beautiful aesthetics could have used a bit more story content.


A highlight of the game is the retro pixel graphics, which are based on the original concept art. This pixel art is of course further polished for our modern standards, resulting in a very attractive-looking game. Clockwork Aquario still looks like an arcade game through and through, up to the displayed token system and the font used in the menus. It’s such a good choice to keep all this, with the colorful graphics really bouncing off the screen and making the game stand out amongst many other arcade-inspired titles. If anything, this title feels more faithful in capturing the old-school spirit than many of its competitors.


As we’ve mentioned above, several members of Westone were asked to come work on this project and complete it; as it was meant to be completed in the first place. This means Clockwork Aquario got Shinichi Sakamoto back as the composer, who famous for his work on the Wonder Boy series and Dungeon Explorer. The result is that just like the graphics, this game looks and sounds like an authentic arcade experience. The music is upbeat, catchy, and when a boss comes around, you’ll get to enjoy their theme music. While the game has no voice acting, the characters do supply us with various grunts, shouts, and other noises of joy.


Clockwork Aquario is an action-platformer with a very modest amount of levels: only five of them. The game does compensate by adding some additional content in the form of an adventure mode you need to complete before you can even play in arcade mode, as well as a two-player mode that adds a mini-game you can also play separately if you want. All in all, that still doesn’t make for a lot of content, but it does mean you won’t just finish the game in twenty minutes and then never pick it up again.

Across these five levels, you will be beating up waves of enemies to progress to the next screen, eventually running into a smaller sub-boss and finally the big boss of the level. Defeating enemies can be done either by punching them or jumping on top of them, Super Mario style. The first hit will merely stun them while a second hit will take them out, though stunned enemies can be picked up and thrown for additional damage. Some bosses need you to use this mechanic to beat them.

There are three player characters to pick from, though aside from their appearance, they all play functionally the same. Your character can be hit twice, with the first hit only messing up their clothes and the second hit being lethal. There are health items in the game, though dying isn’t much of a worry in arcade mode, since you can just continue playing immediately. In adventure mode, you have limited lives dependent on which difficulty you pick. It adds a little bit of an edge, though the game isn’t really difficult enough to ever present a real challenge.

That’s about the extent of what Clockwork Aquario has to offer. As a bit of a bonus, the game comes with an art gallery that shows off the original concept art from 1992, as well as a few more recent pieces, giving us insight into the game’s development. This is a cool perk for anybody who is interested in that sort of thing.


As can be expected from a game with such a fascinating path from concept to publishing, Clockwork Aquario does combine the best of both worlds: a great authentic retro arcade experience that still holds up with our modern standard. Even though it might only be a short experience, the gameplay is fun, the visuals are great and the music is superbly handled. This one provides a short and fun experience, but we would have loved a bit more meat on its bones.

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Rating: 9.0/10 (1 vote cast)
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Clockwork Aquario - Review, 9.0 out of 10 based on 1 rating

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  1. […] Games and Strictly Limited Games have today announced the upcoming release of Clockwork Aquario. The game’s development originally started 30 years ago, but was dropped due to the rise in […]

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