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Aquarium

From the Database of Home of the Underdogs

GAME DESIGNER:

GAME DEVELOPER:Bullfrog

GAME PUBLISHER:Electronic Arts

Copyright 2001, Bullfrog

Definitely the worst game to bear the “Bullfrog” name on the box, Aquarium is an awful PC conversion of an awful Playstation “aquarium management game” that was released only in Japan. In a shady attempt to capitalize on the popularity of Theme Park and the Bullfrog name, EA released foisted this Real Dog onto the unsuspecting public in 2001. Fortunately, very few gamers took the bait, making the game one of the most obscure in EA’s canon – and deservedly so. How bad is the game? UK’s PC Zone explains well:

“Sometimes the cynicism of game publishers astonishes us. Not often, because we’ve grown quite used to it, but now and again a title is released that makes you want to throw large stones at their office windows or clap your hands at their sheer audacity.

Get this. In 1998, the Japanese branch of EA released a pretty substandard Theme Park rip-off for the PlayStation called Theme Aquarium, presumably because fish are more popular than roller coasters in Japan. Three years later, and following the entirely coincidental mass-popularity of The Sims and Theme Park World, the European office decides to port said game to the PC. They drop the Theme bit off the title, so as not to be too obvious, and hope that a few poor sods take the bait.

To top it all off, it’s an absolutely awful conversion of a terrible game, that would have looked slightly dated more than five years ago. We’re talking Megadrive and SNES type graphics. Hell, they would look ropey on a GameBoy Colour. The idea, as you’ve probably guessed, is to build an aquarium, fill it with fish and watch the visitors pile in. You can install all sorts of different tank shapes, buy rare fish from dodgy dealers, organise expeditions to catch them, hire cleaners and doctors and train dolphins to do tricks. It’s like a scaled down version of Theme Hospital, with a couple of original ideas poorly implemented.

EA Japan’s website says that Theme Aquarium was developed by Bullfrog, but their name is mentioned nowhere in this and the manual cites some Japanese programmers instead. Which sounds a lot more likely. Bullfrog would never stoop to producing something as horrendous as this.”

Actually, the game was coded by a few ex-Bullfrog programmers, but that still doesn’t justify EA using the Bullfrog name. In any event, Aquarium is a sorry excuse of a business simulation. It’s boring, full of incongruencies and dumb AI, and is basically just not 1% as fun as Theme Park. A Real Dog in every sense of the word.



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