Megaquarium: Joyous Fun in a Straightforward Management Simulator
Whenever you sit down to enjoy a majority of management simulators, you're expected to handle various different pop-ups jumping up at you to gain your attention, you're expected to notice small problems in your facility and address them accordingly, and the developers want you to handle every detail with the accuracy of an overhanging god. The developers behind Megaquarium threw away this mindset and instead hand you a wonderful simulator so you can sit back, relax, and take pride in the joy you bring to crafting a lovely aquarium for every member of the family to enjoy.
Though Megaquarium may seem overly simple, there's plenty the game brings to your attention in a great manner without making you feel like you have to micro-manage every detail of every day as you run your ideal aquarium.
We All Start Here
The game's story is loose, but it keeps you engaged as a player. You start beginning to learn how to run your own aquarium, discovering what the needs of your fish are and what they require to stay alive. There's a lot more going on than you expect! However, you don't have to manage too much of it, only make it available for your staff to access, and they do the rest.
The game introduces you to the requirements of each tank, as they need proper water filters and heat filters to survive in a suitable environment. This becomes easy management, at first, until the game starts to throw at you various species that need different things beyond this -- some require the proper amount of vegetation living their tank, or the right amount of hiding spaces to survive; fish need their privacy if they're ready to get adored by humans. Each tank provides space for a certain amount of fish, and each species of fish takes up a certain amount of space.
This concept becomes a bit more complicated due to some species growing even larger after a set number of days. You either prepare for this by having space for more filters or heaters to accommodate the bigger fish, or have an empty enough tank for them to room. You also have to watch out for their tank-mates -- as they may eat smaller fish if they grow too big.
Are you following all of these minor details?
While it may seem insane at first, Megaquarium breaks all of these concepts down in simple, easy-to-follow levels that make you handle them one by one. None of these issues or problems are brought up without a thorough explanation, which makes this game a fun experience to behold as you can almost never feel left behind, unless you jump straight into the sandbox menu.
The game's campaign takes a while to break you out of its training wheels, but when it does you'll have a wide-wealth of skills at your disposal. You'll learn how to build tanks in the middle of a floor and have the equipment away from the audience's eye, how to make it look natural against the wall of your establishment, and how to provide the best reading material for your audience without letting them look at it for free. There's balance to knowing how to build your aquarium, but it's entirely up to you.
The campaign's levels give you a good breadth of what to expect when you craft your own building, but don't expect any handouts -- expect for the optional missions that pop up to give you a small leading hand while you handle the main mission of managing your revenue and your prestige. The more prestige you have, the more ranks of fame your aquarium has, which means the wider diversity of fish and buildings you can incorporate into your personal choices. These pieces of research take time, as they you need aquarium points in ecology and science to build. You can only add these up based on the types of animals you have in your establish.
Thankfully, the wonderful break downs make it easy for you to see what you're earning and what you need to work on. You can even see which fish are the most popular, and this changes based on where they're located in your aquarium.
The Beautiful Data
Don't fret if you believe you're going to spend half of your time in game staring at a menu, reading numerous numbers. This part distinctly tells you the information you need to know, and then you can freely move on to use that date to improve your park.
It's that simple!
On the lower left hand of the screen you pull up how much money you make in a day based on the tickets you sell. While you can change how much the tickets cost, you can see the increase of how many tickets are purchased based on the attractions you've added to your establishment. You can't strictly see this information, but it becomes obvious as you add more exhibits and add more places for people to visit. I found myself waiting a few days for the audience members to do their rounds, view what they wanted, and then move on, before I felt safe in adding a new attraction.
One thing that was really nice about this game was I never felt a distinct pressure about crafting a new area. Some management games hurt or encouraged me to build a new station, and when they hurt me I felt the repercussions for several days as I attempted to cover the losses. You don't get that in this game. You can have bad things happen to your tanks, such as a bigger fish eating a smaller fish or a predator eating a prey, but other than that, there's no big consequence to adding a new tank to your facility to increase revenue or prestige to build your location even further.
You do have to look out for the fact you may build too many tanks for a similar species. The more diverse species you have in an aquarium, the happier your audience is as they don't have the see the same thing over and over again. When you watch out for that, the minor attractions like food, drink, and restroom facilities, you're basically golden to sit back and enjoy the numbers going up, and up in this game.
Difficult To Produce Errors
One thing I never felt while running my little aquarium was a sense of fear. I never feared I would run out of money, I would simply need to wait a day or two for income to arrive and I could purchase the items I needed. I never felt the information the game gave me was insufficient to where I would accidentally house fish together that could eat each other. While it did happen, it was never a learning experience, it was always presented to me.
This is the one thing Megaquarium doesn't seem to present players: a sense of worry or doubt in themselves in what they build. There's plenty of brakes given to the player to ensure they build at a gradual rate without going too overboard. I never went into the red and never ran into money issues or felt I needed to fire an employee to ensure the lights stayed on.
Though, this isn't a huge issue. For those who want a simple, relaxing simulation game to play without feeling the need to constantly fixate over charts, this makes for an excellent experience. There's nothing wrong with this, but it feels like a missed opportunity for players to feel the weight of having to own a struggling business.
Megaquarium invites you to have a good time learning how to run your own aquarium with the various different mechanics going on in its game. You learn plenty, and when you the spend the time getting to know what you need to do to run your own establishment, everything falls into place -- don't ever feel too pressured!
Though this game doesn't offer too much pressure, that's not the point. You're meant to relax while you build your favorite aquarium and provide pure joy for everyone who walks through your days to view your exhibits. Only remember to watch what species you put together and what you show off, as too much of a good thing is not a good sight for others to behold!