My Aquarium

It's Fish-tastic!

My Aquarium - the popular fish tank simulator - comes to the PS3!
Author: Andy Curtiss
Published: September 18, 2010
I should start out by pointing out that My Aquarium is not a game in the sense that most of us would think of a "game." The best way to describe My Aquarium from Hudson Soft is "fish tank simulator." Like the guy from the late-night infomercials says - My Aquarium is a set-it-and-forget-it experience. My Aquarium was released in 2008 and established a fan base of sorts, prompting the PS3 to acquire the title as well.


When I say that the premise is "fish tank simulator," I mean exactly that:

Step #1 - Design your fish tank. I was actually surprised by the number of options offered here. First you choose the size of the aquarium you're working with: large, medium or small. Then the decorating begins: there are 5 options for the ground of your tank (sand, gravel, riverbed, etc...), 6 options for your background (coral, deep-sea, riverbed, etc...), 40 individual items to place (ranging from sunken ship, to frogs, to plants and logs), and 6 pre made decoration sets that will deck out your tank depending on it's size. When choosing an item to place the left joystick is used to move around the bed of your tank, placing the item where you desire. In addition to this, the game also allows you to tweak the light color and quality that is shining into your tank. There are 11 pre made light settings or the option to make your own light setting which allows you to play with color and opacity. You can even pretty-up the glass of your tank by adding decals that sit nicely in the corners of your tank - adding appeal without blocking your view of the fish.

Step #2 - Choose your fish. My Aquarium offers a variety of fish to choose from, though you initially start with 13 different kinds. As the days go by and you check back on your tank and feed your fish, you unlock other varieties of fish that you can add to your 6 different tanks. Starter fish range in size from your standard Neon Tetra to the Asian Arowana. The game takes an unrealistic twist in that you can have saltwater fish in the same tank as freshwater fish... but hey, who's keeping track? Also, bare in mind that if you keep bigger fish with smaller fish (ie, the two breeds mentioned above), you run the risk of your bigger fish making a meal of your smaller fish. It should be noted, however, that this is the only way you can lose your fish. They will not die of hunger.

Step #3 - Watch and relax. Something I had not counted on was the soundtrack offered by My Aquarium. There are 38 different tracks offered, all instrumental. The genres are similar, but range from classic to elevator music. With the exception of 2 or 3 (by my standards at least), most of the tracks are actually quite beautiful and very relaxing. You have the option of selecting your favorite track or letting the game randomly choose one for you. And most of the tracks are several minutes in length. Upon setting your controller down and waiting for a few short seconds, the game will enter it's viewing mode. All the icons and writing will go away, leaving your music and your tank. This is where the game comes to life, quite literally. Your fish will swim around your tank, navigating around your decorative items and act as you would except them. For example, jellyfish will idly swim around while guppies will school together and dart around your tank. Want a better view of your fish? Hit the R3 button to tap on the glass - and different fish will react differently! Hitting L3 during viewing mode will produce an icon that will allow you to click on individual fish. From here, you may name your fish to keep better track of them, or see a brief description of the breed.

Another mode feature offered is the ability to take screen shots and videos of your tanks. As days go by, your fish can grow and reproduce, thereby giving you something to brag about ("Oh YEAH? Well check out how big MY guppy is!!"). My Aquarium allows you to follow fish around the tank and snap pics of them as they weave through your plants or merely swim with their school. And if you're a REALLY proud fish parent, you can record a video and upload it directly to YouTube!

So here's how I see it. My Aquarium offers you a relaxing backdrop to whatever you may be doing around the house. As I stated before, I really enjoyed the music and actually liked the noise of the bubbles from the bubbler I placed behind my sunken ship. Plus the idea of your fish breeding and growing keeps me coming back to check on the little guys. But that's really about all this title offers. There's no actual playing... there's nothing to really "do." Thankfully the title only costs $4.99 total, which I think is about fair. In addition, Hudson has promised additional fish breeds as DLC that will be sold for $0.99 per group of fish.
The Verdict
8.5

No matter how I slice it, My Aquarium is really a title that you'll need to decide on for yourself. I liked it - I think it was worth the price tag.

7.5Graphics:

Considering what the PS3 has to offer, I think they could have made some of the textures on the fish a TINY bit better looking. And I hate to say it, but the jellyfish look a little blocky from some angles.

9.0Sound:

As I've said several times, I loved the tracks available. And if you REALLY don't like the tracks yourself, you can turn them off all together and just listen to bubbles.

8.0Control:

Here's my thought process here: there's nothing really much to control except for the menus. And said menus are very easy to move through and understand.

5.0Gameplay:

It's really not fair to have a gameplay rating on My Aquarium because there IS no gameplay except when you're trying to photograph one of your fish. The only gripe I can think of is that it would have been nice to have a full 360 degree rotation.