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Ecco the Dolphin: What Did the Critics Say in 1993?
By Cyril Lachel     |   Posted on March 31, 2014   |   Episode 23 (Show Archive)  


Ecco the Dolphin (Genesis)
Ever wonder what Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other popular magazines thought of your favorite 8-, 16- and 32-bit games? Now you can find out, thanks to Review Crew! This is the only show on the internet that is willing to go back in time to find out what old school critics thought of retro games at the time. Did they pan your favorite game? Did they love something terrible? Find out every week as Defunct Games presents Review Crew!

I get the feeling that people don't think much of Ecco the Dolphin. While Sonic the Hedgehog and Gunstar Heroes are still remembered as classics, poor Ecco seems to have been left behind. But what did Die Hard Game Fan, Mega Play, Electronic Gaming Monthly, GamePro and other magazines think of Sega's underwater hero back when he made his debut? The answer may surprise you.

(NOTE: Although we occasionally cut for length, no other edits are made to the review. Defunct Games does not change any of the wording, grammar or punctuation use. Also keep in mind that our score is the average of all critics at the time, not just the sample that is reprinted on this page. If you still have more questions, I recommend you check out the Review Crew FAQ, where we address the review guidelines, converting scores, magazine covers and more.)

Ecco the Dolphin
[ Company: Sega | Console: Genesis ]

GAMEPRO (February 1993)
5 out of 5

"Dolphin is fantastic! It's intelligent, thoughtful, and fun to play! It's also very challenging. The game was done with great sensitivity to all living things. It's a spectacular testament to the idea that video gaming can still be fun, even if you don't have to beat up or shoot up the competition. No points, no power-ups, no punching ... just a porpoise with a purpose. Take Ecco for a swim in your Genesis." -Scary Larry

97% out of 100%

"I'm stunned by the sheer excellence of Ecco. In fact, every single aspect that makes a game superb has made it into this game. Perhaps the thing that really astounds me about Ecco is that the game is ORIGINAL. It's not another platform game or a shoot 'em up or anything like that -- it's new! Sonic the Hedgehog II was polished and brilliant, but it was derivative. Go for Ecco, it's just as amazing but original too and that counts a lot in my book these days."

MEGA PLAY (February 1993)
95% out of 100%

"This is a very unique game that has a new idea for challenge rather than killing and blowing things up. Some of the missions can get repetitive, but the password feature lets you start and end as you please. This is not just for animal lovers, there is plenty of challenge and technique for all types of players." -Howard

DIE HARD GAME FAN (February 1993)
94% out of 100%

"Sega sure can stretch 8 megs a long way. This new generation of adventure/RPG had me automatically addicted. The control is life-like with quick responses and fluid animation. All the levels are beautifully detailed as well as different. The music is original and the challenge is perfect. This game is incredible!" -Tom Slick

93% out of 100%

"I was surprised to find that Ecco is a gentle dolphin sim with little action and heaps of twee loveliness. Ecco is the best thing I've seen in a long time and, for once, it doesn't rely on gratuitous violence or a cacky plot that's been used a million times before. No, this one's a tru original and will be a true classic." -Andy Dyer

92% out of 100%

"Take your very own pet dolphin out for a spin in the practice pool and just look at those lines in as you loop in and out of the water! Seriously though, this is probably the smoothest playing game to date. Hardened blast fans aren't going to go overboard on this one, unless they can cope with a few well-timed nosebutts, but otherwise Ecco's hard to fault. If you're looking for something very different and long-lasting in the playability stakes, look no further." -Chris

9 out of 10

"This was the 'top secret' game that Sega was raving about but not showing anything. They were right as this game deserves all the praise that we can dish out. Everything from the animation, to the quest, to the sound and graphics is almost perfect. The idea is new and innovative. The hot Sega game this mont [sic]" -Ed

94% out of 100%

"Games about dolphins are nothing new. Actually, they are; to my mind, this is the first video game featuring a dolphin as the main character. I approached Ecco with with some reservations; after watching Anglin playing for a short time, it seemed to me that the action as minimal and slightly tedious. And I wasn't wrong! This is one of the best games you'll play on the Megadrive, or any other format for that matter." -Paul Rand

MEGA PLAY (February 1993)
91% out of 100%

"This is one of my favorite Genesis games because it breaks new ground in gaming. There are lots of techniques and the game play is very thought provoking. The game controls extremely well and you really feel like you're the dolphin. The only negative point is the cart gets kind of repetitive after long periods of play." -Martin

DIE HARD GAME FAN (February 1993)
84% out of 100%

"Ecco is definitely the most original game of the year. The graphics are high quality and the realism is almost exact. However, for me to partake in such a long dramatic quest I need good CD music to keep me involved all the way through, especially with such high difficulty. I am anxiously awaiting the CD version." -Skid

90% out of 100%

"This game has to be seen to be believed! The graphics are some of the most stunning I've ever seen! The sprites move so smoothly, they'll make those SNES owners weep with shame at how crap their machines are! Ecco's a real gem of a game that deserves all the high marks and praise it deserves! A big pat on the back to Sega. Well done, guys." -Mat

8 out of 10

"This one barely missed my "Best of the Month" vote! Ecco is the best combination of action and adventure I've seen in a long time. The control and technique is superb and the overall size of the quest that confronts your dolphin is immense. Great action, great story and great play add up to make a stunning game!" -Steve
REVIEW CREW AVERAGE: 90% - Critics loved Ecco the Dolphin. But even more than that, critics loved talking about how surprised they were to love Ecco the Dolphin. Some magazines seemed gleeful at the notion of a non-violent game, as if every Genesis release involved blood and guts. After they got over their shock, the old school critics found themselves mesmerized by the underwater locale and the incredible animation. Sega Force takes it way over the top by saying, "The graphics are some of the most stunning I've ever seen! The sprites move so smoothly, they'll make those SNES owners weep with shame at how crap their machines are!"

Thankfully, most magazines stayed away from the system war nonsense. Then again, it did seem like some magazines were unsure what to say about Ecco the Dolphin. Mega Play called the game "Thought provoking." Really? And don't forget Die Hard Game Fan's Tom Slick, who noted that the controls were "life-like." Who knows how that works. Either way, the critics loved Ecco, giving it an average of 90%.



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