By: Casey Curran
Ecco the Dolphin is one of those strange games that I have always loved, yet never really understood why. So when I got a chance to review the 3DS version, I figured it would be a good chance to finally figure out what this game does that I enjoyed so much. Is it just the game’s special place from my childhood or is it something so much more?
From the start, Ecco gives the impression of being a very relaxing and simple game. You play as a dolphin named Ecco just jumping up above the sea for air, leaping over tiny islands. This soon changes once you get a very high leap and countless ocean creatures are abducted by aliens. Yeah, that’s right, aliens. So the game soon takes a sharp turn as Ecco must journey to save his friends.
The core gameplay of Ecco is very tough as you must both avoid hazards and find areas where Ecco can get a few breaths of air deep underwater. The controls take a lot of getting used to and will feel very awkward at first. Even once you get used to them, they will not be perfect, but they do enough to get the job done.
Ecco also offers a variety of objectives, usually based on exploration. This is the game’s strongest point as the ocean is a very simple, yet vast and fascinating area to explore. Whether you’re looking for dolphins to save or trying to find a crystal that lets you reach the next area, the game always encourages exploration and keeps it fun.
The game remains challenging the entire time you explore, however. All kinds of obstacles and creatures can hurt Ecco, and even when avoiding these perfectly there is always the threat of running out of air. There is the alternative of the Super Dolphin Mode removing any kinds of hazards if you are only interested in exploring the ocean. If you want more of a challenge, though, without dealing with the game’s more punishing difficulty, then you can also save wherever you want to create your own checkpoints.
Graphically, Ecco has held up very well and pops out even on the 3DS’ screen. There is a great use of colors here making the areas reflect the beauty of a real ocean. The game also interestingly is one of the few 3DS games to have the option for the 3D to pop out rather than in. If you’re the kind of person who prefers that kind of 3D, then Ecco is a good way to enjoy it.
Ecco the Dolphin 3D is a tough sell with how it is in every single Sega Genesis collection ever made. Right now it just has the niche of being able to play it on the 3DS and the invincibility mode. The first niche is the tougher sell, but if you’re one of the people who wanted to get all of Ecco’s content but struggled with the steep difficulty curve, then the 3DS version is for you.