Review: My Aquarium (WiiWare)

If you are too busy to take care of real fish then Hudson’s virtual aquarium might be perfect for you.

Let’s make this clear right from the very start of this review -- My Aquarium is not a game. Unlike Nintendo's deep sea diving title for the Wii, Endless Ocean, there is no adventuring or exploring of any sort. My Aquarium consists solely of watching and feeding fish. It is really an interactive screensaver in a sense.

For those who are too lazy or can’t bear the cost of maintaining a real aquarium, this might be the next best thing for you. You can customise your own aquarium and then put some fish in it, after which you can take care of them every day just like in real life. You get the satisfaction of watching your pets grow as time passes. You can keep up to six tanks, so you don't have to worry about family members messing around with your beloved fishies: just make a new aquarium for them.

Aside from decorations, such as rocks, plants and shells, you can select what the base of the aquarium looks like, the background of the aquarium, how bright or what colour the lighting is, what music plays in the background and obviously what fish will be in the tank. There are 35 songs to select by classical composers such as Bach and Beethoven, which suit the tone of the proceedings perfectly. You have a limited amount of space in your aquarium, however. Each decoration and fish takes up a different amount of space, which you can see on a bar in the top-left of the screen. Obviously, bigger things will take up more space. If you would like to place multiple objects or fish in the water, you’ll need to keep a careful eye on the bar to make sure you have space available. Don’t worry though, you can remove or replace things if you don't like your choice. There is no concept of currency in My Aquarium; everything is free!

There are a total of 40 fish to select from, although initially you'll only be able to pick from about 14 of them. The rest have to be unlocked by checking on your fish every day. If you want more exciting selections, you’ll have to clock up a few hours of play time. The fish move in a very realistic manner and look even better than those in Endless Ocean, which is pretty impressive when you consider that this is a WiiWare download.

When you throw some food in the water your fish will swarm to it, just like they would in a real aquarium. In addition to this you can tap on the glass and watch the fish react to it. Watch out when putting larger fish in the same tank as smaller fish, as they might get eaten! You can also set up as many as three special dates, such as birthdays, for your aquariums. When you view your aquarium on one of these dates, the fish will entertain you with a special dance to celebrate the occasion. Perhaps most interestingly, if you want to know more about the fish you can also read a little information about each of them. If you have younger members in your family then this may be of particular interest as an educational resource.

Another neat touch is you can trade aquariums via WiiConnect24, ideal for those with friends and family elsewhere to interact with one another. My Aquarium also interacts with the Weather Channel to create different effects, which is pretty impressive too. When you are happy that your aquarium looks just the way you want it to, you can hide the menu around the screen in order to make it function as a screensaver on your TV. This feature might be particularly good for chilled out parties and such like. Aside from all that, there's not really any 'gameplay' as such here. But as we said at the start, viewing My Aquarium as a game would be a mistake; it doesn’t make any claims to be anything more than a fish tank simulation. You’ll find My Aquarium to be a very calming and unique experience; therefore its appearance on WiiWare is completely justified.


My Aquarium is not a game, so we're not reviewing it as such. If you are happy that in downloading this you’ll be getting a virtual aquarium, then you really can't go wrong here. It only costs a measly 500 Wii Points and there is lots of scope for customising tanks and changing the fish. If you get bored you can just change things around for a bit of variety. You probably won't touch it for more than 10 to 15 minutes per day, but it is a relaxing experience for the time you spend with it, which really is the whole point. For this reason we're recommending it highly; it really is a unique experience that will provide enjoyment for people of all ages and backgrounds.

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