November 12, 2008 - What's there not to like about dolphins? They're smart, friendly, cute, and they have a tendency to save humans trapped out at sea. Hell, some can even time travel. Oh wait, that last part is a lie. Mostly.
Admittedly, the idea behind Ecco the Dolphin is a little far fetched. Little Ecco's pals get sucked up into some sort of crazy storm vortex, and he has to swim around until he eventually locates a time machine. With no help from the ineffectual advice doled out by a giant talking whale, he then travels 55 million years into the past before dolphins existed to locate a globe for some giant, talking blob of DNA. That's only the first chunk of the adventure.
The rest of the game is quite solid. Swimming around is reasonably fun, and the little flourish Ecco pulls off when jumping out of the water is very cool. Then there are neat little tricks like sliding along ice blocks on your belly, pushing blocks around with your nose, and using your sonar abilities to communicate and take out enemies. As an unusual side-scrolling action adventure, Ecco the Dolphin presented players with new problems to tackle and a refreshing underwater presentation.
Dolphins are playful creatures, and the game captures that inquisitive and energetic spirit excellently. Zipping around beneath the surfaces of the waves and gaining speed to jump over small masses offers moments of lighthearted amusement. Traveling into the darker depths presents numerous exploration challenges and denizens to defeat. New environments create ever-changing obstacles to overcome and keep the occasional tedium of navigating the mazelike seascapes to a minimum.
In its time, Ecco was a game of a different feather and a welcome change of pace for many players. Time traveling dolphins or not, this is one game that will make you want to swim with the fishes.
CCC Staff Contributor / Pixel Artist