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SummaryEcoQuest – a whale of a tale
The GoodWhen the golden age of computer games (the Nineties, according to a really old MobyGames poll) was just taking off, Sierra introduced its “Discovery Series”, and if you brought a game that had these words on top of the cover, you know that the game was actually an education tool for children (although adults can enjoy them as well). I assume that the SDS games weren't as successful, since there were only six games released. One of these games was EcoQuest: The Search for Cetus, and it taught children about ecology.
The educational part of the game kicks in right at the start of the game when Adam Greene, the protagonist, has to get rid of the oil that a sea gull is carrying. In doing so, not only do they find out why they need to do this, but they find out how to do it properly so that they can apply their actions in real life.
Later, Adam plays with a dolphin he helped rescue from a fishing net. After being released, the same dolphin comes back to Adam, telling him that the underwater kingdom of Eluria is in trouble; and Cetus, the great whale king, is missing. What I like about the game is click the eye cursor on different fish and other plants causes Delphineus to give you information about them.
The majority of the game takes place underwater, helping any wildlife you meet and recycling any waste that found its way to the ocean floor. It is interesting to see other fish swimming by Adam. While swimming, I felt that I was actually experiencing life underwater for the first time, not knowing what dangers are lurking ahead of me and how I could deal with these dangers. Each underwater scene is filled with wildlife, and they look excellent.
Since EcoQuest is a kids game, the icon bar at the top of the screen looks quite colorful, and each icon is animated when you click on them. Some of the graphics are breathtaking, and every scene has beautiful, hand-painted backgrounds. The underwater scenes have plants and other creatures that are usually found in real life. Near the end of the game, the scene where Cetus occupies more than half the screen is just stunning. The characters are well animated as they mo
The way the sound effects blend in with the underwater theme to it is excellent. The game's soundtrack is excellent, and has that reggae-style to it no matter what sound device you use. (In my opinion, the Roland MT-32 sounds realistic.) The music at the end of the game is enough to make you feel good.
There are puzzles in the game, but they are not that hard to solve and take five to ten minutes to complete. One puzzle I know involves changing some pillars so that they match the ones on the other side of the room. Also, Adam also deals with a manta ray who threatens Eluria, and learns of a prophecy he must fulfil if he wishes to save the kingdom. This prophecy comes in a form of a poem, and it takes a few moments to make any sense of it.
The CD-ROM version of EcoQuest features some excellent voice acting. Adam is a young boy learning to be a ecologist just like his dad, so it made sense for him to be voiced by William Skirvin's son. Delphineus, the dolphin who guides Adam along the way, is done by a woman who I don't know the name of. The CD-ROM shows how some of the fish have a bit of attitude on them, especially Gregarious and Superfluous.
The BadMost of the cursors in the game are solid purple. They are a step backwards from the ones that were properly drawn in other Sierra games.
As stated in the description, there are some supernatural elements. The only one I can think of is at part near the end where Delphineus is swaying back and forth on a hook while Flesh-Eater is circling him. I found this quite disturbing.
Finally, I was disappointed at the ending. I am not going to spoil it for you, but let's just say that the biggest threat to Eluria wasn't destroyed, just stunned. Normally, when I play a game, I expect any antagonist to be dealt with and killed; and this did not suffice.