3D Ecco the Dolphin (Nintendo 3DS) Review

By Charlie Shepherd 18.05.2015

Review for 3D Ecco the Dolphin on Nintendo 3DS

SEGA's Ecco the Dolphin dives into the undersea world of the dolphins for a unique adventure amidst sea creatures and obstacles inspired by the seven seas. This release features both the Japanese and the international version to be enjoyed in two different forms of 3D. To save his pod, Ecco the Dolphin must traverse a scrolling adventure through dangerous sea creatures and the natural danger of the ocean. With various ways to adjust the gameplay experience to suit a variety of needs, is this oceanic expedition worth the time?

One day, while living the carefree, peaceful life of a dolphin, Ecco goes up for a jump to show off for his pod…and with absolutely no warning, the entire world as he knows it is sucked up into the sky in what was no doubt the most horrifying and utterly random experience of this poor dolphin's existence. His entire pod mysteriously missing, Ecco sets off to explore the ocean in search of answers. His travels take him across the open sea, into the perilous arctic waters, into confrontations with sea creatures beyond his humble proportions, and more.

While it is difficult to picture exactly what life as a dolphin would actually be like, the game controls very faithfully to how controlling a dolphin might be imagined. Ecco can speed up and charge to attack, leap out of the water, and nudge and control various objects in what proves a surprisingly immersive experience. True to his name, Ecco can use his echolocation to converse with his fellow sea creatures and to influence the environment in various ways, using his sonar as a projectile. While the controls are a bit tricky and certainly take some getting used to, they serve to give the feeling of actually controlling a dolphin. True to his mammalian nature, Ecco must also be careful to breathe regularly or else face rapid depletion of his health. Naturally, this can add a whole new layer of challenge to a title consisting of exploring underwater labyrinths, forcing the careful consideration of the nearest available air on the map.

Screenshot for 3D Ecco the Dolphin on Nintendo 3DS

Ecco proceeds through various levels by confronting enemies and making use of features of the environment, like shells or rocks. Some levels involve search-and-rescue missions for other dolphins, while others have classic platformer-esque obstacles, such as dodging dangerous objects that threaten to crush Ecco in narrow corridors. Oft-dreaded escort missions actually run very smoothly compared to other releases of the era; as Ecco guides other dolphins through the stages, there is no worry of poor AI leaving behind the tailing aquatic creature and forcing frustratingly slow progression. The unique nature of the main character and the controls, as well as some smart but difficult game design, serves to produce a legitimately challenging, but rewarding experience.

Ecco the Dolphin takes great advantage of its oceanic theme. From tropical waters to frigid seas, the diversity of the ocean is on impressive display. Each environment features new sea creatures and hazards appropriate to the level. From pesky puffer fish to giant octopi to the quintessential hungry sharks, many popular ocean creatures are featured in creative ways from the unique perspective of a dolphin. A strangely relaxing and often enigmatic soundtrack contributes to a mysterious and intriguing atmosphere entirely consistent with the underwater setting.

Alhough it has the potential to be quite difficult, there is a "Super Dolphin Mode," which allows for invincibility and unlimited air. The challenge is essentially removed if this mode is activated, but it makes everything entirely accessible and changes the atmosphere from one of mystery with the ever-present hint of danger to one of greater relaxation and peaceful enjoyment of the various underwater visuals, thus adding a very different way of enjoying the game.

Screenshot for 3D Ecco the Dolphin on Nintendo 3DS

Cubed3 Rating

7/10
Rated 7 out of 10

Very Good - Bronze Award

Rated 7 out of 10

3D Ecco the Dolphin is a unique and well-built title that communicates and remains true to a beautiful underwater theme. The adventure is challenging, but doable, and although some aspects may get a bit repetitive in places, in general it is all engaging enough to be enjoyable from start to finish. Gameplay features are unique enough to warrant a look from any videogame fan looking for something new, and the little touches of thoughtful design - from Ecco's sonar to the breath mechanic to his little flip out of the water - point to a game built with genuine care.

Developer

M2

Publisher

SEGA

Genre

2D Platformer

Players

1

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  7/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  0 (0 Votes)

European release date Out now   North America release date Out now   Japan release date Out now   Australian release date Out now   

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