If 30 levels of brain-twisting action sounds like your thing, you will definitely want to check out the winner of the 2013 DragonBox Coding Competition for Original Pandora Games, Aquaventure.

– Guest post by Kumaki –

AquaVenture is best described as underwater Boulderdash on steroids! The game is a combination of an action game and a thinking game, although the main thrust is thinking. You are a diver after gems in the sea, which you must collect in order to rescue your girlfriend, who has been kidnapped – a recurring theme in many video games.

Each level has a rather cute name to it, which is a fish/sea pun, and gives you a small clue as to what you will face in that level. In each level, there are different traps and marine creatures to hinder you. It should be noted that this game is turn-based, rather than live-action.

Octopi, crabs, and starfish are just a few of the creatures you will encounter. Some of them mirror your movements, others move in a set pattern you must discern. Mines (boomas), underwater geysers, and toxic waste barrels are a few of the traps you must avoid or neutralize (or use to your advantage!).


The geysers make you character unable to move down…and you must figure out how to get down in spite of them. The boomas can blow you up…or blow up some of the cute marine life hindering you…BUT if a marine creature gets blown up, you fail the level as well! (Killing cute marine life is forbidden) Level 10 proved to be the first actually difficult level for this reason! In fact, this is a major reason I got stuck for a while on Level 15!!

Sponges, rocks and kelp are some of the things which can either help or hinder you, depending on how you use (or don’t use) them. While their function remains constant, each level is different – what helped on a previous level may, in fact, hinder you in a later level. You must figure out how to navigate and avoid the creatures, neutralize the traps, and use what you have on the screen to help you collect the gems to move on to the next level. In many levels, this is a lot harder than it sounds – I don’t want to give too much away, because the whole point of the game is to experience it, and figure it out for yourself!


If your character is eaten by the cute marine life you are forbidden to kill, is blown up, or otherwise “killed,” you just start over at the beginning of the screen you were working on. “Death” is not permanent, and you have no set amount of “lives”. Likewise, if you get stuck, there is a reset button in the upper-right corner.

Challenge your mind to thinking in new directions… but be warned, Aquaventure is VERY addicting! In fact, one challenge would be to find out whether a difficult level, or the monotonous music drives you crazy first!  I have only mastered up to Level 25 myself!  No worries here, though, others HAVE made it even further than I have…and a few have even finished the game…so it IS possible!  In fact, since the writing of this, I, myself have finished it!

The game received many positive reviews in the testing stage – and, of course, the most important positive review:  Winning the contest!! There have already been calls for AquaVenture 2: Venture Further. (Also, Venture Deeper has been suggested as a name for the sequel – which makes sense, as each “level” is more meters down).

Ian Price, the developer, has hinted at possibilities for a second game. He says that several elements which were developed for AquaVenture were not used in the game, and may make an appearance in a sequel. New puzzles and challenges ahead on the horizon… or rather, beneath the sea, seem likely.

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Personally I didn’t like this game very much, regardless of it receiving so many positive reviews and comments. The gameplay is perhaps too linear and slow-paced for my tastes; I was especially stumped at the one with the fish following you and two or three mines floating – there is obviously only one path, but I find predicting the enemy movement to be tricky, resulting in tedious trial-and-error testing.

I wonder.


Well, it sounds to me like a thinking game isn’t your thing, you are more an “action person.” and that’s okay. This game is NOT for everyone. However, can you at least acknowledge that the programmer did a good job on the game – and created a game that appeals to many people, if not you, personally? As I said right in my review…this game isn’t for everyone. “If 30 levels of brain-twisting action sounds like your thing…” And there IS action. I DID note the game was turn-based rather than live action. As far as thinking goes, though, this… Read more »


I liked AquaVenture a lot: the concept is refreshingly original, both in terms of gameplay mechanics as in terms of theme (deep-sea diving). I especially liked the “don’t kill anything!” – actually even “don’t get anything killed!” – aspect of the game, which is a refreshing change from business-as-usual in gaming which is basically to be a trigger-happy serial killer. Also the pixel art is very cute. The only downside in my opinion is the limited replayability: once you know how to solve the 30 puzzles, it’s over. The only thing left to do is patiently wait until you’ve forgotten… Read more »


Thanks for all comments – I don’t see ANYTHING negative in not liking a game. I hate flight sims, but that doesn’t mean that they are shit games, just that they don’t appeal to me. As for the number of levels and replayability – 30 levels is all I could manage in two months – I don’t really think people understand how difficult it is to do this or how long each level takes, while working on the game itself, Frootopia (and a couple of commissioned apps) and having my own real-life concerns. The game has a story, which required… Read more »