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The Aquatic Games - Retro Replay

Updated: May 8, 2020

Following on from his first two side-scrolling platform games, top FI5H operative James Pond took a rather obscure change of direction when he appeared in the sports themed release, ‘The Aquatic Games’. Or to give it it’s full title, ‘The Aquatic Games starring James Pond and the Aquabats’.

Developed by Millennium Interactive and published by Electronic Arts in 1992, ‘The Aquatic Games’ was available for the Mega Drive, Atari ST, Amiga and Super Nintendo. It was a parody of the Olympic Games, and an alternative to other athletics based games such as Konami’s ‘Track & Field’.

The game took every opportunity to include some sea-based punnery. And this was even the case in the included instruction manual. All game manuals include a really boring and stupidly obvious description of how to put the game in to your machine, but ‘The Aquatic Games’ took a comical attitude with these instructions on page 5.

  1. Wipe away any seaweed, ocean debris and dead marine animals from your Sega Mega Drive. Make sure the power switch on your Sega Mega Drive is OFF.

  2. Carefully blow any sand off your Aquatics cartridge and insert into the slot on the Mega Drive. Press firmly to lock the cartridge in place.

  3. Turn the power switch ON. The Electronic Arts logo appears followed by an Introduction Screen.

  4. Remove any scuba gear that may impair your vision and press START. This takes you to the Title Screen.

  5. Press START to take you to the Game Selection Menu.

  • Well? What are you waiting for?! Get out there, perform like Scaly Thompson and do FI5H proud!

James Pond was accompanied by four other marine animals, together, they were known as the Aquabats. Along with these there were penguins, who acted as referees, adjudicators and spectators. Each of the eight events in the game featured Pond and/or one of the Aquabats, either as an opponent, or as the main character which you controlled. Depending on how well you did in each event, you were awarded medals of gold, silver and bronze as you would expect of athletics events.

The first event was the 100 Metre Splash. Controlling Pond, using the old-fashioned method of button mashing, you had to sprint across a body of water as fast as you could. The aim was to beat your opponent who will be hot on your eels, renowned sprinter F-fortesque Frog, by leaving him in your wake. Victory would see Pond perform a little dance.

The next event saw you control Ceceelia the Seal in Kipper Watching. Six of her friends are having a snooze on the beach, but pesky folks start throwing beach balls at them. So you have to control Ceceelia to deflect all the incoming balls and prevent them from waking her friends up. The orange & yellow balls required one hit to get rid of them, but the blue & yellow balls didn’t bounce as far and may have required two or more bounces. In terms of excitement, this was not one of the most interesting, and it could last a while if you were any good at it.

Event three sees the return of F-fortesque Frog in Hop, Skip & Jump, similar to the triple jump. Here, Frog had to run a short distance, hop on one foot over a trap, pull out a rope and skip, then most importantly, perform a big jump as far as he could. When he reached the jump part, players had to quickly judge the angle to leap at to get the best result possible. A penguin would then measure the distance you jumped and give you the result. If you failed to get over the trap, poor Frog would comically hop along grasping his foot in pain.

Next was The Bouncy Castle. Set inside a green castle, Pond had to jump about on a pair of big sponges and perform a number of somersaults and twists in order to gain big scores in a limited time. You had to perform six specific moves in order to complete it, and do each one six times, the tally of which is kept at the bottom. Sometimes a box with a spring would appear in the middle of the sponges, allowing Pond to bounce off it in to a number of clams that gave him extra points. If you missed a landing point, you would splat on the ground and be temporarily dazed from your stupidity.

Then came Feeding Time with Freddie Starrfish. Freddie is stood on a pier holding a bag which he would fill up with sweets using one of the machines on either side. In the water below, his fish friends would rise out of the water, and Freddie had to drop the sweets in to their mouths. As the fish came out, fishing lines would appear above them and would gradually lower down to the fish. The aim was to feed the fish so they would go back underwater before the angling lines caught them. If you lasted long enough, you'll end up running around like a lunatic refilling as the fish start to rise at the same time.

Event six, Shell Shooting, was quite peculiar and required a certain amount of skill. This event saw limpets walking back and forth across the floor. Pond would have to jump on the edge of a limpet to cause it to let out a squeak and flip up in the air, he would then have to catch it in a dish, and fling it upwards to burst a series of red balloons hanging above him. Meanwhile, he had to avoid the other limpets on the floor. He could jump on these for points, but it's worth it purely for the satisfying splat sound. Pond would particularly have to avoid spiky metal ones that would give him an electric shock.

The Tour De Grass saw quite a bizarre sight; a shark on a unicycle. Mark the Shark had to speed along a hilly course using his flippers to pedal, whilst also jumping over crabs that were dotted along the route. Extra points could be gained for collecting butterflies along the way. This was a rather fast-moving event, and players had to rotate the D-Pad in order to move, which made this quite a frantic and thumb-aching one to play.

The eighth and final event saw the return of F-fortesque Frog yet again in Leap Frog. This was basically a hurdling event. A penguin would fire a cannon, and Frog would race along the beach jumping over electric eels that had been shaped in to hurdles. Frog had to beat a flying fish that was travelling above him in order to win. Clipping a hurdle would send him flying in the air with a shock. He would also have to leap over puddles that would slow him down.

If you were good enough, you could unlock two bonus events. The first involved Juggling with P.J. Penguin. You had to slap each ball with a flipper to juggle them, the more balls you juggled, the better the score. The second bonus event was the Long Jump with that Frog dude again. It was basically Hop, Skip & Jump, without the Hop and Skip.

I was quite partial to the music featured in this game; from the opening rendition of Beethoven’s ‘Ode to Joy’ on the main menu, to the jolly themes used during the events. If you did well in an event, you would be given a big fanfare, whereas failure would give you a dismal theme that will make you feel ashamed of yourself.

The Aquatic Games’ was a fun little game that never took things seriously and had a charm and splendid humour that made this quite a joy to play. It was a game that you could instantly pick up and play for only a few minutes if you wanted, and yet you would also come back to it for more in future.

by Mark (Joking Dolphin)

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