Theme Aquarium (テーマ アクアリウム?) is a simulation video game published by Electronic Arts, in which the player creates and controls a sea life aquarium. It was originally released on 17 December 1998 for PlayStation only in Japan. The game was later ported to Microsoft Windows under the name Aquarium and was released in Europe.
The gameplay is very similar to the other games in the Theme series, and the graphics are similar to Theme Hospital. In Theme Aquarium, the player begins with an expanse of empty floor space and the task is to construct a maritime attraction for visitors which must be filled with interesting and appropriate creatures at the same time as dealing with all the attendant challenges of running a profitable business. There are two ways of getting fish and other sea life, either by buying them off sellers or by catching them yourself. Dolphin shows can also be created and serve as the star attraction of the aquarium. Staff must be hired to maintain the aquarium and also to take proper care and attention to the animals.
In a 1999 interview, Bullfrog Productions co-founder Les Edgar stated that Theme Aquarium was produced and tested in the United Kingdom, but implemented in Japan. His intention was to "cross barriers" between the United Kingdom and Japan, and produce a game suitable for both markets, as, due to the success of Theme Park and Populous in Japan, he thought Bullfrog were more successful than other companies in producing games that were successful there. He commented that it sold well in Japan, but would not in the United Kingdom, and that the idea of having the producers in the United Kingdom and the development team in Japan worked. In 2012, Bullfrog programmer Jonty Barnes asked fourteen ex-colleagues about the game, none of whom were familiar with it, with one describing it as "one of those obscure titles", although he also stated that it was known that it was intended for a Japan-only release on the PlayStation.
The game was originally intended to only be released in Japan, however Electronic Arts later developed an English version of the game. This version however was not to be on PlayStation, the game's original platform, but rather on Microsoft Windows. Not only was the English version on a different platform but it was also renamed. It was released simply as Aquarium on 15 December 2000 only in Europe.
A "Collector's Edition" version was released a year later on 5 October 2001.
PlayStation Network release
Theme Aquarium has been released as a PSone Classic in Japan, allowing it to be played on PlayStation 3 and PlayStation Portable. It was released on 24 September 2009 and is available to download from the PlayStation Network store.
- Zoo Tycoon: Marine Mania, a similar simulation game.
- "Theme Aquarium Release Information for PlayStataion" GameFAQs. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
- "Theme Aquarium" Theme World. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
- "An Audience With Les Edgar". Audience. Edge. No. 74. Bath: Future plc. August 1999. pp. 120–125. ISSN 1350-1593.
- "Revisiting Bullfrog: 25 Years On". Retro Gamer. No. 110. Bournemouth: Imagine Publishing. December 2012. pp. 60–67. ISSN 1742-3155.
- "Aquarium for PC – Release Summary" GameSpot. Retrieved December 29, 2009.
- "Software Catagloue – Theme Aquarium" PlayStation.com(Japan). Retrieved December 29, 2009.