Twice Circled has developed a new aquarium tycoon game dubbed Megaquarium, where you’re truly the puppet controlling the actions around your own aquarium with live fish. Yes, live fish. Meaning they have needs, and requirements alongside appeasing your incoming guests to make the best aquarium around. Some could even call it the Megaquarium.
Going into this game, I have a ton of previous tycoon experience including Sim Safari, Sim Life, Zoo Tycoon, Roller Coaster Tycoon 1 & 2, Planet Coaster, Mall Tycoon, Fast Food Tycoon, and of course Game Dev Tycoon. I grew playing this type game and have developed fond memories and play-styles that adhere to looking at the big picture and how to create the best business in those scenarios.
Megaquarium is no different in goals or rewards. The only real change from the other tycoon games is that each fish has their own living situation where they need specific food, filtering, heat, plants, caves, rocks, and some are more of a bully compared to others meaning you can’t put every fish together. There are a lot more situational needs for each breed of fish adding a bit more strategy and planning needed to complete the scenarios and advance in the game.
Starting Out the Aquarium
Megaquarium is really good at getting you into the mindset of the game. Starting a new game, you get plenty of prompts explaining where the buttons are, and how to read each fish’s needs and give them enough tank space with heating and filtering. From there, you have to meticulously look at each one when you unlock a new type from advancing your rank, and see if you can mix them together in the same tank, or if they need to be their own exhibit. For example, some have a need to be with multiples of their own species, while others refuse to live with their own kind.
Aside from unlocking new fish, you can develop science points for discovering new equipment such as a filter and heater combo, or pumps to give the necessities to a tank while hiding the equipment behind closed staff doors. This becomes even more essential as the game progresses and picky aquarium goers start to dislike seeing staff equipment in the open. In addition is decor which can be added in the tanks to provide aesthetic look for prestige points, but no real benefits for the fish.
Managing Needs and Staff
Though it seems simple at first to migrate fish into their new homes, as the game progresses they develop numerous more necessities including no lights, or preferring lights; while others develop more nefarious ones such as eating their fellow tankmates like crustaceans, or other smaller fish that are easy to prey on. Not only is this needed to keep track of, but guests will start to also require more needs like drink machines, food carts, bathrooms, gift shops, benches, trash cans, etc.
From there, you also have staff members who must be managed and put into the right position. Equipment does break down, so having tool kits available for repairs is needed, alongside the proper staff members who have the skills to repair higher-end technologies. Also, they are required to clean up the floors, feed the fish, and even handle further guest problems. While that seems simple, they all come with stats and levels of skills that must be weighed against one another.
If you’re curious about how to manage or view the needs of fish, there are buttons on the right top of the screen for “View Rate”, “Tank Capacity”, “Point Tools”, and “Guest Needs”. Like in Sid Meier’s Civilization VI, it shows above the blocks of the item or person to give you stats about that specific area. This is super handy for understanding where to improve tanks, and what to add.
The Great Parts
There are tons of awesome qualities to Megaquarium. Not only is this a new tycoon of its type and very specific, but Twice Circled did really well on developing the tiny features of the game. As an example, the staff having talents in fitness, empathy, charisma, memory, etc. are all aspects that can change how they work and interact with guests and fish. Also these fish are real. They are all based on fish that exist in the world, and for example we have the Azure Demoiselle, King Demoiselle, Zebra Moray Eel, and Blue Knuckle Hermit Crab with their game adaptations below.
By adding real species of fish to the game and giving them qualities similar to their real counterparts, it adds a new type of level to the game that is realistic, and what is expected from tycoon games.
Another great feature is the decor options that develop, along with the guest add-ons of food, drinks, and souvenirs. These are all found in typical tycoon games like Roller Coaster Tycoon and Planet Tycoon and bring in more revenue for the aquarium.
There are only a few drawbacks to Megaquarium, including a bit of functionality. It can be hard sometimes to select the right block or object and move it efficiently. Right now the delete button is X, and M is move; but I haven’t found anyway in the menu to remap these keys to my side mouse buttons. More of than not, I’ve occasionally hit the wrong object or block and either moved it by accident or painted it with some of the decor options. I’d be super happy if Twice Circled was able to add in the options to remap keys, and I bet I’d make more mistakes!
Personally I really enjoy playing Megaquarium. I love the kind of games that really require you to plan out where you’re going to put objects and also manage them over time. While this game is about fish, it’s enticing. Time truly flows by while playing it, and I can’t wait to play more once it fully releases on September 13th with sandbox mode.
That being said, if you don’t like simulation or tycoon games then this is not for you. It’s heavy in micromanagement and planning, and requires a lot of time to develop an aquarium and progress in the campaign.
You can personally get your copy of Megaquarium through Steam tomorrow Thursday September 13th.