(I apologize for the above pun.)
Seeing as we’re in a new year and possibly a new gaming generation, I figured now is a good time to look back on what games from the last few years really defied my expectations. Either because they went above and beyond what I was expecting of them or because they were horrible letdowns that made me feel stupid for buying them. Today’s surprise is Endless Ocean, a Wii series made by Arika and published Nintendo that is all about exploring the majesty that is the ocean.
So I’m kind of cheating with this one because I’m lumping both Endless Ocean games in together. There was the original one, Endless Ocean: Dive, Discover, Dream and its sequel, Endless Ocean: Blue World. They both have the same fundamental goal, enjoy exploring beautiful underwater scenery but how they go about it is a little different and truthfully I’m torn on which one I think did it better. There both quite enjoyable but they each have some design decisions that separate them.
Before I get into that I’ll cover the basics of both these games. You play as a diver and basically you’re just supposed to swim around and look at the various flora and fauna the ocean has to offer. You can focus on different fishes and learn more about them, throw fish food, take pictures, ride along with dolphins. Basically it’s a virtual diving simulator. There are stories and goals in both games but the main draw is definitely enjoying your own virtual ocean to play around in.
And it’s actually really really relaxing and enjoyable. It’s nice after playing so many stress inducing games to actually play one that just lets me take it easy and enjoy it. You just listen to the music and let everything wash over you. Ironically this game probably would have been better on the HD consoles, seeing as the main draw is looking at nature and the better graphics would have been a boon. But if it were on the HD consoles it probably have cost a lot more money to make and it’s doubtful it would have sold enough to cover the added cost, so the Wii was probably the best chance it had.
And you don’t really need HD to make stunning landscapes.
Anyways, the biggest decision would be which game do you want? Dive, Discover, Dream or Blue World? I’d say they’re both worth playing, but seeing as they’re kinda of rare and expensive now, it might be best just to pick one. The shortest way I can describe the difference between the two is to say Dive, Discover, Dream is probably a better fit for a more casual gaming experience where as Blue World has a lot more hooks that traditional gamers seem to enjoy.
Dive, Discover Dream is very laid back and right from the start you can go anywhere in the sea. The story line is simple and basically just serves as a vehicle to lead you to the smaller exotic locations separate from the main location. There are things like hidden treasure and special locations, but the game doesn’t give you much in the way of guidance and it’s possible to miss a lot of interesting things because you don’t know where to look. By the same virtue if you love exploring endlessly, you might actually enjoy that. The music in the first game is better too and there’s an option to play your own music off an SD card, a feature that goes missing in Blue World.
Now Blue World is a lot more focused than its predecessor. You have much more detailed journals that keep track of your quests and things you find, including giving you clues where to find the stuff you’re missing. Instead of one big ocean you get several small locations which you unlock as you go through the story. These smaller locations give you a bigger variety of locales ranging from the North Pole to the Amazon. It also includes a lot more traditional gaming elements such a money, goals you must accomplish, jobs you can take and now certain fish will attack you. For traditional gamers they might find this more appealing, but for the more laid back type these things might be detrimental to relaxing in the ocean. Especially considering despite the game telling you sharks attacking people is rare and unlikely, every shark in this game fucking wants to eat you.
Sharks aren’t vicious monsters. But don’t go near them or they’ll fuck you up something fierce!
Anyways, like I said, I enjoyed both games. If I had to choose one I’d probably pick Blue World. Some of the stuff they stuck in the sequel is really annoying, like the aforementioned sharks, some tedious diversions from the main plot and to revisit the final area in the game you have to raise half a million dollars! But overall the larger selection of smaller more diverse locations is more dynamic than the single big sea. The journal is also very useful for keeping track of everything, allowing you to more easily revisit loose plot threads and ventures you may have forgotten about.
Either way they’re worth playing if you’re looking for some relaxing scenery in the form of a video game.