When Ecco the Dolphin was released on the Sega Genesis it was heralded as a new type of game, a peaceful adventure title in a world of ultra violence. But outside of its location (set under the water) and its hero (a dolphin), there isn't much new in Ecco. At its core it was inspired by everything from Out of this World, Prince of Persia, and even the Legend of Zelda ... the only thing that sets this game apart from the rest of the crowd is that it does it in a beautiful, serine world.
Ecco the Dolphin is a real charmer; it's a well-crafted adventure game, the type of product that should appeal to a wide group of gamers. Unfortunately, it's also kind of hard ... and extremely vague. If you're the type of game player that has no problem solving puzzles and finding your way out of mazes, then this game will likely offer very little challenge. But if you're just about anybody else this game will have you ripping your hair out.
For one thing it's sometimes difficult to know what you're trying to do. Even after you've swam around and surveyed the area, there are more than a few times when you won't know what they're asking you to do. You can use your sonar to ask for help, but often those only confuse you more. Although it looks like it's a game for children, Ecco the Dolphin may be more than the ADD Generation can handle. It's a deeply rewarding adventure, one that has you running into all kinds of cool sea life ... but if you're the type of gamer who isn't satisfied until you've killed all the bosses, this game is not for you.
On the Sega Genesis Ecco the Dolphin looked amazing, with highly detailed, and elaborate, world for you to swim through. Unfortunately the game doesn't look nearly as stunning on the Game Gear, with most of the areas offering the same few colors. The game's animation has been left intact, but it's hard not to notice how different the rest of the sea life looks. The over all adventure is still the same, but the graphics take a major hit when going from 16 to 8-bit.
Thankfully the game still manages to feel like an Ecco game. You'll still be swimming around solving puzzles, collecting crystals, and pushing around loose rocks. You still need to go up for air every so often (giving the game a sense of urgency you don't normally see in a game of this type). It's still you on a quest to save the rest of your pod from ... aliens? Okay, ignore the ridiculousness of the story; this really is a worthwhile game that translates amazingly well on the Game Gear.