Ecco the Dolphin (VC) Review

A game about dolphins may sound like a pretty odd premise, but in 1993 Sega released a game precisely on this theme. The title, Ecco the Dolphin, turned out to be a surprise, and respectable, hit. Nintendo has re-released this title for the Wii Virtual Console, and we’ve taken the plunge to see if the game is a keeper, or if it should be thrown back into the ocean where it can sleep with the fishes.

Ecco the Dolphin is a side scrolling game which centers on the adventures of an intelligent bottle nosed dolphin that is swept away from his fellow dolphins by a huge storm. In his travels to reunite with his pod, he finds that the storm has affected the entire sea and the creatures that live in it. He goes on a quest to solve the mystery of the worldwide chaos and to also find his lost friends.

Gameplay for Ecco involves solving puzzles, avoiding enemies, navigating around obstacles, collecting things called glyphs, and vanquishing baddies when possible. EtD can be played using the Wiimote, GameCube controller or Wii Classic controller. Ecco’s movements are made via the d-pad or left joystick, and actions such as using his sonar to see ocean terrain features and making quick dashes to attack foes can be accomplished with the other designated buttons.

This title is as much about the ambience of the game surroundings as it is about the game itself. The ocean creatures, bright colors and soothing music can lull you into a semi-relaxed state and some may even find this characteristic of the game worth the price of admission ($10). In some ways, it resembles some of the virtual fish tanks that you see on PC screen savers, except for the fact that you are directly involved with the game.

The game, while seemingly aimed at children, has some tough brainteasers as you try to figure out ways to gain entrance to blocked areas or in finding your way through difficult underwater mazes and locations. Some have called the game dark in nature, as to the tone of the gameplay, and this may disturb younger players. But the interesting mixture of a soothing environment along with the tension and danger in the game will appeal to those in search of a unique gaming experience.

The graphics of the game are done in eye-popping primary colors and the game looks much better now then it did upon its first launch. This had me confused for a while until I realized that it was probably due to the fact that seeing an older game on new technology TVs made this game look superior to the original. Either that, or Nintendo has redone the code to make this game look nicer.

Ecco the Dolphin was a big departure from the normal scheme of game development in 1993, but still proved to be a popular title in spite of its off-beat nature. It turned into a cult hit during the 90’s, and that’s probably just as true for its re-release now. Not everyone will like this game, but those who are looking for an interesting departure from the usual offerings may find a pretty good adventure in Ecco’s oceanic adventure.


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Author: GamerNode Staff View all posts by

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