When I was a kid I didn’t have a SEGA Genesis in the 16-bit era, only a Super Nintendo. I had nothing against the Genesis, but when you’re a kid with a limited income, you can’t afford to get ALL the game systems. Most of the time I didn’t have a desire to play what was exclusive to the Genesis anyway, as most games back then were me-too 2-D platformers with an annoying critter with an attitude as the main character. But then out of the blue came this one game where you play as a dolphin who explores the depths of the ocean to find his missing pod! That game was Ecoo the Dolphin, and I so wanted to play it back then. And now you can play it with new 3-D graphics by downloading it from the Nintendo 3DS eShop.
In the game, play as Ecco who is trying to find his pod of dolphins who have mysteriously vanished. You’ll swim and explore ocean caves, avoid dangerous sea creatures, and communicate with other whales and sea mammals. Use a dash attack to defeat aggressive ocean animals (also handy for when you need to jump out of the water) and use a sonar wave to talk with friendly marine critters. Just make sure to come up for air every now and then, you’re a mammal, not a fish, after all.
This version of the game comes with some extra features and options. I’ve been blind in my left eye since birth so I can’t see the 3-D effects, but I’ve heard they’re done very well. You can also toggle various emulation options; make the screen look like an old retro TV, and other things. Remember at the beginning of my review when I said I really wanted to play Ecco the Dolphin as a kid? Well, unfortunately, years later when I did finally get to play it, I was a bit disappointed. The game is very difficult and goals and objectives are unclear. Luckily, you can turn on a “Super Dolphin” mode which makes Ecco invincible and you don’t have to worry about running out of air. But it still doesn’t hide the fact that it’s still hard to know where to go or what to do next sometimes. Even so, patient gamers and fans of the series should still enjoy this one anyway.
3D Ecco the Dolphin is rated E for Everyone with an ESRB descriptor of Mild Fantasy Violence. You can dash into animals with your bottle nose, but enemies just disappear when defeated. Reading skill is helpful for the text. Younger gamers should fare better with the “Super Dolphin” mode turned on, but they may still get frustrated and bored with the unclear goals and slower-paced gameplay. It’s too bad SEGA doesn’t release Ecco Jr. on the 3DS. That one wasn’t as frustratingly hard as the other titles in the series, and it was filled with interesting facts about dolphins and other sea life!