I have never had an eye for space, as I get reminded time and time again as I place tanks in a haphazard manner. I create unequal area zones, because of a weird, unplanned layout. I mean, at least my fish is fine, right? Megaquarium isn’t that generous, but hey, at least Easy mode is.
Megaquarium is a simulation game. You’ll be tasked to manage aquariums, as you might expect. Place tanks, tanks need fish, fish need filters, heat and food, equipment needs fixing. You can’t run an aquarium with just the fish, though. You’ll need the staff at work, the visitors to come in, and that brings a whole new set of layers to organize.
The campaign slowly eases you into all the controls, which is great. I feel the Switch controls might be a little clunky, though. The text is also fairly small on handheld mode, and the button prompts can be hard to make out. One good example is the prompt to press down on the joysticks. I couldn’t quite understand what the game wanted me to do until I eventually figured it out. The options menu is sparse, so I couldn’t adjust font size even if I wanted to. Otherwise, menu access is mostly kept to the directional keys on the left Joy-Con.
I’m not familiar with simulation games, so Easy was good enough for me. As it is, considering placement of tanks, relevant equipment and such was a slight challenge. Next was to keep track of the fish requirements: some have “shoaling” properties where they need a minimum of the same species, some are Bullies or Wimps which can’t be placed together. For enthusiasts, you can be assured there is plenty of depth – no pun intended – to really flex those micromanagement skills.
You see, while I did play it on Easy, the whole setting up isn’t the end of it. Fish can eat other fish – one would imagine the easiest way to do so is to place Bully and Wimp fish together. You get Ecology points from visitors, which go towards researching and unlocking new fish. Prestige shows how attractive your aquarium is, which will then unlock more bits in a feedback loop to beautify your aquarium further.
Management aside, zooming in lets you view the fish as though you were a visitor yourself. I’m not sure if I’d like seeing my haphazard arrangement in first person, but it’s the thought that counts. If you like caring for fish, and have a knack for management/simulation games, I would recommend this game. There’s plenty yet of mechanisms I’ve yet to fiddle with, but for enthusiasts, you can look forward to an absorbing time.
More fun if I knew how to run an aquarium on more than just sticky tape.
- Incredible depth of systems
- Many details for the most discerning players
- Can be tricky to juggle if you're new to sim games
- Menus can be hard to navigate, at least on the Switch
How do I manage all these tanks, filters, what have you?!