You either love Ecco the Dolphin, the eco friendly, good natured, well structured puzzle/adventure game, or you absolutely hate it! I have friends that will all but get into fist fights over how horrible the game is. How it's extremely difficult, it's too vague, and it's really nothing more than a big bore. But I sit on the other side of the fence. Ecco the Dolphin is just the refreshing kind of game that kept Sega on the cutting edge, and Nintendo looking more and more like old news.
Ecco the Dolphin isn't too different from games like Out of this World and Flashback, both of which are strong adventures with a story. Sega has skillfully woven together quite a story, too. You see, Ecco (pronounced like it should have been spelled 'Ecko') is a pretty intuitive creature. He can use sonar, as well as other strange Dolphin sensing tactics. It all makes for an extremely interesting game.
A lot of the puzzles include simple things like using your nose to move blocks in to currents, or getting keys to unlock other parts of the ocean. There's even tricks that can be done when jumping out of the water. As well as all new 3D levels (that really don't work, at all).
The problem, though, is that most people don't see the point to the game. Being a dolphin has it's ups and downs, especially when you can't do a lot of talking between characters. You're missions aren't plotted out for you, and some times you are stuck just roaming around looking for someplace you haven't been before. I will admit, this isn't the best game design, however, I never had more than a few minutes of wasted time, and figured out all the puzzles pretty quickly. The game can be a bit frustrating, but perhaps should be looked at more like a Zen experience, as opposed to an action game.
Ecco the Dolphin CD is actually Ecco the Dolphin 2, which originally debuted on the Sega Genesis. There's no question that this lowers its score. Sega, who made us buy a $300 system, is making us buy rehashes of games you already own for the system you NEED to own just to use that $300 add on!! So what's different? Ecco the Dolphin CD uses Qsound (you can thank Capcom for that). Ecco is SLIGHTLY (ever so slightly) longer on CD as well ... but let's face it, there's no reason to buy this game on the Sega CD if you already own it on the Genesis!
But even after that, I can't deny that Ecco the Dolphin is both a good game, and a good Sega CD game. If you don't own Ecco 2 on the Genesis, and you see Ecco CD for sale, I strongly recommend picking it up. The game doesn't fit into traditional roles, but it's rewards, difficult, and a heck of a lot of fun. The graphics and sound are top rate, and there really isn't much bad with this game. Don't think it's another Aquanauts Holiday, Ecco is Rambo compared!