Written by  :  Guy Chapman (2001)
Written on  :  Nov 23, 2006
Platform  :  SEGA CD
Rating  :  4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars4.67 Stars

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The Most Beautiful Game Music Ever Created.

The Good

To be certain, my header is a strange way to introduce a game. But if you are able to find a copy of the amazing soundtrack that accompanies this game, you would understand my claim.

I'll get to that aspect in a second, however. Ecco is one of the Genesis' "unique" titles. Titles that you would never find on a Nintendo system, as this was the time of a very innovative Sega. Gamers are put into the role of a dolphin with slight telepathic powers on a quest to save his pod from an alien race from the future. The concept is definitely "out there" enough for a video game plot line, but the initial levels betray nothing of the sci-fi twist the story will take.

From the start, Ecco traverses a dark and somewhat barren ocean, speaking to other friendly sea life, and fighting more hostile sea predators. The graphics are beautiful in the game, as is the animation. Playing as Ecco, there is a sense of freedom swimming through the oceans and leaping into the sky. This is all marked with responsive enough controls for controlling an underwater creature.

The levels themselves are rich and detailed, with plenty of variety as Ecco goes deeper and deeper into the ocean, discovering the truth of what happened the day his pod disappeared into the sky.

Now for the music. The music for the CD version haunted me for years until I was lucky enough to find the soundtrack online. I remember just listening to it as I explored the levels. It so accurately conveyed the empty expanse of the ocean, the beauty of the sea, the loneliness of being alone in the game.... Very rich and new age in feel, and very dark and foreboding in the final levels.

The Bad

The controls are good, but there are some issues with controlling Ecco through the waters or in making difficult jumps. It is manageable, but frustrating at really crucial times.

The game does have FMV unlike its cartridge counterpart. However, the FMV is very grainy, even by the standards of the time. It would be totally unacceptable now.

Other than the brief FMV and music changes, there is very little that separates it from the cartridge version of the game, which was all to common for Sega CD ports.

The Bottom Line

Ecco the Dolphin, however you play it (Genesis, Sega CD, Sega Genesis Collection on PS2/PSP or Wii's Virtual Console), is a game that does not happen very often. Even the Dreamcast sequel does not fully capture how wonderful and original this title is. Incredibly unique and innovative for its time, the game still retains a sense of originality to it.

Few games struck me the way Ecco did, not even the cartridge version of this game. The music made the title seem all the more epic, all the more unique, and all the more special to me. It's one of those games that you can simply find joy in being the character (Super Mario 64 was another comparable title that made simply being the character itself fun), and that's a big rarity in a lot of games.

The original Ecco is making its comeback via the current generation's compilation packs and emulators. It's a worthy game, even without its beautifully haunting score. But it you manage to find a copy of the CD version's soundtrack, you'll understand why the Sega CD version was the one that was meant to be played.