Cubed3 Nintendo gaming, Wii and DS

Endless Ocean (Wii) Review

Have you ever fantasised about going scuba diving, swimming with the dolphins and exploring the ocean floor? If so and you've not done it, why haven't you? Chances are you've just not had the time to, or it's been too expensive, or you've been somewhat understandably wary of entering the deep dark sea. Whatever the reason, Nintendo and Arika have offered a partial solution in the form of Endless Ocean - now you can go and start a crazy life under the sea without ever leaving the comfort of your armchair...

You don't play Endless Ocean for the storyline, let us make that clear from the start. The story, in this case, is all about you helping your non-swimming marine biologist assistant learn about the sea creatures of the world, as well as pleasing people who want to go diving so that you can gain a better reputation with your peers. It's sometimes unclear how to move on in the story, and while it's mildly entertaining its true purpose is to give you an excuse to do what you got hold of the game for - to go messing about with the fishies.

While it's not quite as endless as the title may imply, the areas you have to explore are absolutely massive. Rather than putting it all at your disposal immediately, however, the map is divided up into squares which you navigate through in your boat. Once you decide you've reached the area you want to look at, in you dive. Your boat serves as the central hub point of the game from which you can save your game, activate online content, play music (which you can play from your own SD card - not quite as fun as bombing it down the road to them in Excite Truck, but still a nice touch and a feature that more Wii games need to take advantage of, especially since owners of Xboxes have been enjoying this function for years), read your messages, and so on. Various beasts also have an affinity for turning up uninvited into your boat for a little wander, such as numerous sea birds and penguins.

Screenshot for Endless Ocean on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

It is, of course, though, the diving that makes up the main part of Endless Ocean and not your adventures pottering around on your little motorboat. Essentially, your mission is to have a nice relaxing swim about, take in the environment and the things that fill it and meet as many ocean dwellers as possible to add to your records and aid Miss Marine Biologist's research. Finding out more about each animal is as simple as clicking on them with the pointer so that the screen zooms in on them slightly and follows them about, allowing you to feed them pellets and, bizarrely, pet them by clicking and holding on them with the A button and making a stroking motion. We weren't under the impression that fish liked being tickled by people, but apparently they do according to Endless Ocean. Either way, if you touch them enough then you'll learn more information about that creature, with up to three pieces of research being available for each. It's like a Pokédex, but real!

Screenshot for Endless Ocean on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

While it's fine to meander about doing nothing but looking at fish, there are quests that you can fulfil, too. Often you'll get a message from the authorities in charge of your scuba diving and research, asking you to give a guide to somebody or other. They will follow you around under the sea, and often you will be asked to show them a specific fish or two. Show them a good time and they'll give a good report and come back to you for any repeated aquatic visitations. You can also go treasure hunting, as there are plenty of random items buried in the sea-bed for you to collect up. Plus, you can befriend certain creatures such as dolphins to the point that they will follow you about and perform tricks after you've trained them. You can take pictures of your travels, too.

Another great thing about Endless Ocean is the way that it uses the Wii's pointer. Rather than using an analogue stick to move, you simply use nothing but the remote and point where you want to go, swimming forward towards your cursor by holding B - or even just locking it into a mode where you don't even have to keep holding the button and then clicking again when you wish to stop moving. This method of moving you around is intuitive and instantly easy to get to grips with, and to be honest it nearly ruined Mario Galaxy's underwater sections for us as the swimming in the latter game is so awkward comparatively. If you want to quickly turn around, all you need to do is flick the remote. You can also draw in the sea with the pointer using a special underwater pen, either to leave yourself markers, draw rude things or leave helpful directions or hints for friends.

Screenshot for Endless Ocean on Wii - on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Yes, hints for friends, because Endless Ocean is playable over Nintendo's Wifi Connection service. Chuck in those friend codes and you can either play host on your own vessel or join a friend on theirs and take a nice leisurely dive together. There's absolutely no lag whatsoever and it's quite a fun experience to connect with people while looking for fish and taking turns directing each other about (unless somebody is particularly bossy), but unfortunately it's definitely a bit of a sterile experience thanks to the lack of real communication between you and your partner. You can use a few pre-set phrases assigned to the d-pad that are useful at first, but without any way to input new phrases you're not going to get the deepest of conversations. An on-screen keyboard pop-up could have worked, as with Animal Crossing: Wild World on DS, but really Endless Ocean is a game that could have benefited hugely from voice chat so that you could guide each other about more easily. Sort it out, Nintendo.

Endless Ocean deserves to be tried out by all Wii owners looking for something a bit different but don't want to veer too far into 'non-gamer' territory. Aside its pseudo-prequels on Sony platforms there's really nothing else like it, and while it's certainly not going to be for everybody those who do enjoy will find themselves diving more than they might have originally expected. This is the perfect way to see what you're missing out on if you've not been scuba diving and offers some experiences that you probably wouldn't get even if you did go - you'll never forget when you first have that whale-shaped shadow cast all over the ocean around you...

Screenshot for Endless Ocean on Wii- on Nintendo Wii U, 3DS games review

Gameplay

Initially it seems a bit boring, and it probably will remain so for some people, but the combination of great controls and the enthralling world of the sea to explore soon makes things interesting. Wifi is a good addition, but needed better communication options.

Graphics

Fabulous under the sea, especially when you get to zoom in. The boat bits aren't great, but we can forgive it because you won't be spending too much time there..

Sound

There's some slow classical-ish music included, but really you're going to want to use your own music. You can only play one MP3 per dive, though, so choose wisely or put several songs into one track.

Value

It's going to last you as long as you want to keep on exploring. There's a lot of sea to explore before you can say you've seen it all.

Cubed3 Rating

8/10
Rated 8 out of 10

Great - Silver Award

About this score
Rated 8 out of 10

Perhaps more of an experience than a 'true' game, Endless Ocean is a nice change from the norm in this world filled with shooting and driving games and a beautiful one at that. There's plenty of ocean to get around before the game's up, brilliant controls and finding new creatures remains exciting throughout. Our main issue is the lack of communications in the online co-operative mode. Ignore the story and boat sections and get diving in - this is one situation where swimming with the fishes is no bad thing...

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25.01.2008

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Developer

Arika

Publisher

Nintendo

C3 Score

Rated $score out of 10  8/10

Reader Score

Rated $score out of 10  9/10 (2 Votes)

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

Reader comments - add yours today Comments on this Review

There are no replies to this review yet. Why not be the first?

I love endless ocean...its so beautiful...the only thing that i find a pain is the fact i cant really swimm around the whole ocean....need to keep moveing the boat

It's a great game, definitely the most relaxing game on Wii

This is a strangely compelling game. I've played it more than any other game ever. And still not bored of it.

Beautiful.

Senior ModeratorStaff Member

I still feel this would have done so much better in Europe if Nintendo had delayed it slightly to ensure there was enough stock available...Ah well, maybe it'll do better now it's out in the US.

Adam Riley < Operations Director :: Senior Editor :: Cubed3 Limited >
Word of Adam | Voice123 Profile | AdamC3 on Twitter

One of the best game on Wii...get it before it becomes a rare gem.

..Simple and Clean..

Surprisingly, it has been sold-out at two local EBGames outlets. I really enjoy it. My 11 year old son thinks it is great too. He is teaching his dolphin friend to do tricks!

Look unto me in every thought. Doubt not. Fear not.

It is a great game if you can call it that. I find it all very immersing and enjoyable.

Please note the voice of the lady is that of 21 yr old Hayley Westenra a native of New Zealand of Irish Heritage her family having emigrated in the early 1800s from Ireland.She currently lives in the UK and has a great fan website called Hayley Westenra International.

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