“ Publisher: Millenium Interactive / Genre: Role-Play / Adventure „
** Aquatic Games Starring James Pond - Megadrive **
First of all Dooyoo have this game listed in the Amiga Games catagory, as they do all of the Mega Drive games, so it isn't in the wrong place, it is just where Dooyoo keep their Mega Drive Games!
Aquatic Games Starring James Pond is an Olympic style button bashing game which was released on the Sega Mega Drive back in the early 1990's. The game came as all Mega Drive games did in a box between Video and DVD size. The box contained an instruction manual and a 16 bit cartridge specifically for the Mega Drive.
Upon inserting the game cartridge into the Mega Drive and waiting a couple of moments for it to load you will see the welcoming screen featuring the main character in the game James Pond. I think James Pond is some kind of fish who seems to have amazing athletic ability!
After the welcoming screen you will have the menu screen offering you seven different options, they are as follows:
The Aquatic Games: This option is one player and consists of all of the events featured in the game. You must compete in them all in order and aim for a gold medal in all events to be the overall gold winner.
James Ponda's Workout, Tuffer Training and Piranha Practice: These are all single player practice modes where you can practice any of the Aquatic Games events in any order you please. James Ponda's workout is the easy difficulty level, Tuffer Training is normal/medium difficulty level and Piranha Practice is the Hard level training.
Also on the menu screen you have Double Trouble, Triple Trouts and Fintastic Foursome. These options are the multiplayer games, as they sound Double Trouble is for two players, Triple Trouts for three and Fintastic Foursome is if there are four of you. In multiplayer mode the players are competing against each other in all of the Aquatic Games events in order. Each player takes part in each event before moving onto the next event. In multiplayer mode there are no split screens so each player must play individually taking turns, this does make the game take a lot longer, but at the same time from the way the events are designed the full screen is needed and a split screen would reduce the quality of the game.
Once you have selected the mode in which you wish to play the Aquatic Games you will then take part in eight different events with the possibility of two bonus events. If you are playing in one of the practice modes you can play the events in any order you want to, however in the multiplayer modes and The Aquatic Games main game you will have to play the events in the order they are given to you. Most of the event screens have the same basic layout, in the bottom corner of the screen you will see the qualifying time displayed, you will need to beat this to qualify for the next event and win a gold, silver or bronze medal. In events where you are running or swimming there will also be a bar at the bottom of the screen indicating your speed.
First up is the 100 Metre Splash. This event is the first of many button bashing events. To race in the 100 metre splash you must tap the A and B buttons on the controller as fast as you can to make James Pond sprint into the water and if you are tapping fast enough he will sprint across the top of the water. About halfway across the water is a seagull paddling in a boat, it took me a while to realise but if you press the C button and jump over him instead of knocking him out of his boat he will return the favour and pick you up and fly you closer and faster to the finish line.
Another event requires you to do a bit of Kipper Watching. In Kipper Watching you are playing as a Seal watching over the baby seals as they sleep on the beach. Your job is to prevent them from being woken up by numerous beach balls flying across the screen and random alarm clocks that appear on the screen every so often. To do this you simply need to move from left to right and press the C button to jump and head butt the beach balls off the screen. If a seal gets hit then it will wake up, after a few seconds it will return to sleep if it isn't hit again. If it is hit again then it will run off the screen. If this happens to two of the seals then the event is over. I found this event to be quite fun and a nice break from the button bashing sprinting events.
The Tour De Grass is a unicycling event in which you play as a shark and must race to the finish in as fast time as possible. Along the route you will need to jump over crabs as well as ensuring you have enough power to get up numerous hills. If you hit a crab you will loose all your speed, this is really annoying as to gain speed you must rotate your thumb on the D pad of the controller as fast as you can in a clockwise motion to get the shark pedalling, I find this often makes my thumb sore and as a result I only play this event when I am playing in The Aquatic Games or one of the Multiplayer modes as I have no choice.
The next event is back to the button bashing of the 100m splash but this time in Hop, Skip and Jump. In this event you are playing as a frog character. To start with you need to tap the A and B buttons as fast as you can, when you reach the jump line you must press C to make the frog Hop and Skip and then when it comes the jump an angle indicator will be shown, you must press C and release it as close to 45 degrees as you can to get the furthest possible jump. I find this event to be fun to play, but a bit frustrating to get the angle or if you accidentally run past the jump points and waste a turn.
The Bouncy Castle is one of my favourite events in which you play as James Pond doing gymnastics bouncing on two sponges with eyes. In the event you must bounce on the sponges to gain height and at the same time when you have enough height you must press a combination of buttons to perform different tricks. If you try to do a trick too close to the sponge or is you miss the sponge for your landing then you will do an amusing splat on the floor and have to build your bounce height up again. I really enjoy playing this event, I think it may be something to do with the amusement factor of the splats, a gymnastic fish and the fact that the controls don't involve bashing buttons until your fingers ache!
Feeding Time is the favourite event of my mum. She loves playing as the starfish who needs to keep his feeding pouch filled up to feed his little fishy friends in the sea below. To feed them it is a simple manoeuvre of moving left and right, filling your pouch up from the sweet dispensers at either side of the screen and then dropping the sweets to the hungry fish who appear below you. If the fish come too far out of the water they are risking being caught by the fishermen, so it is your job to keep them well fed until the timer runs out. If two fish are caught then the rest of the fish will swim away and the event will end.
Another favourite of mine is the Shell Shooting event. In this event you are once again James Pond and you must move around the screen jumping on little creatures with shells on their backs, if you land on them central you will squash them, however if you land on them slightly to the left or right you will flip them in the air, you must then catch them and fire them to the ceiling to burst the balloons that are hanging there. The idea is that you must burst the balloons in as quick time as possible before the timer runs out.
The final main event of the Aquatic Games is Leap Frog. Ending the game with a button basher is actually great fun. In this event you must tap the A and B buttons as fast as you can for speed while pressing the C button to jump over the electric eel hurdles and puddles. If you run through a puddle you will be slowed down and if you land on a hurdle or forget to jump you will be electrocuted by it which is actually very funny to see, your frog pulls an amusing face and the sound effects are just hilarious.
During the multiplayer modes and The Aquatic Games mode you may be given the chance to compete in a bonus event to earn a few extra points. The bonus events are quick and pretty easy to play, the first is Juggling where you are a penguin and you must juggle balls between your flippers, every now and again another ball will be thrown to you and you must try to keep them all moving. The other bonus event is Long Jump which is played in the same way as the Hop, Skip and Jump event but without the Hop and the Skip part. The bonus events are optional and can be skipped if you don't like them or don't want to play them.
** Controls **
The controls in the game are pretty simple and mainly a case of tapping or bashing buttons as fast as possible with the occasional jump. I would say the Bouncing Castle is the event that is the hardest to get to grips with the controls on as it requires a selection of button combinations, but after a few attempts I would say they aren't too bad to pick up.
** Graphics and Sound **
The graphics in the game are really good . All of the events are bright and colourful and run smoothly with no distortion. The music in the game is really catchy and fun and gets you into the game even more and the sound effects are great, very entertaining!
** Price and Availability **
Sadly most games stores don't sell Megadrive games any more so to pick up a copy of this you are probably looking at the more specialist games shops or of course you will always find a copy of it reasonably cheap on eBay.
** My Experience and Opinion **
Personally I love this game and even now I enjoy putting the old Megadrive on and having a game against my mum. She also loves it and how simple it is. Overall it is simple and very addictive fun for most ages. My brother is 8 and the Megadrive has now moved into his room and although he wont admit to playing this game he does walk round singing the theme tune so my guess is that he secretly does play it and from the sound of it he enjoys it!
Thanks for reading :)