Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future

Moby ID: 5820
Dreamcast Specs
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Description official description

Hundreds of years in the future, mankind and dolphins live peacefully together and share the earth. Dolphins, who are much more intelligent than they seem, act as the earth's caretakers, while dolphins and humans explore the galaxy. An alien force, known as the Foe, seeks to end this happy existence. The Foe damages the Earth's defense system, and alters history for the worse. One extraordinary dolphin, Ecco, must travel through time to set things right.

Ecco is a 3d underwater adventure game. There are more than 25 aquatic environments to explore. Ecco must communicate with other ocean creatures and learn to manipulate his environment if he is to succeed in defeating the Foe.

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Credits (Dreamcast version)

143 People (120 developers, 23 thanks) · View all

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Critics

Average score: 76% (based on 37 ratings)

Players

Average score: 3.6 out of 5 (based on 47 ratings with 1 reviews)

Fantastic uncontrollable beauty

The Good
Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (henceforth EDDF for short) is beautiful, that is the first thing that really strikes me. The music, graphics, and the presentation in general is wonderfully executed. The undersea world of EDDF is still (2006) the most stunning unnatural natural environment I have come across in a game. Sure, the view distance is a little limited, but that's to be expected from a seven year old console. Still this game looks and sounds better than the PS2 version, something which is not uncommon for early DC and PS2 games, when compared. The environments ("level design" does not feel like quite the right word here) are very well designed and it feels at once real and unreal. The great confined spaces (the "levels" where you have no surface access; underground caves etc) feels very claustrophobic and oppressive, like I find them in real life. The whole feeling this game gives me is a feeling of serenity, a feeling of "zen" if you will. It's very meditative without becoming a slide show (hello Myst).

The Bad
Well, the controls are not very good. Of course I understand it's hard to figure out a control scheme for a dolphin, but actually I think it's the Dreamcast's fault, mostly because the control stick is so sloppy and the triggers are placed the way they are. Ecco just swims into walls and enemies too often, and turns too fast sometimes. This causes much grief later in the game when speed and navigation is of utmost importance, and Ecco just seems to get stuck in walls and swim the wrong direction. Especially in the "claustrophobic" environments (see above paragraph) this becomes a problem since one generally has little time to stop and think. The labyrinthine undersea worlds are dangerous and require excellent reactions.

The Bottom Line
Beauty and the beast. It gets real difficult later in the game, mostly because of inferior controls, but also because of infernal level design. While I like the more "hardcore" approach to saving and loading, sometimes I found it hard to take the time to play the game, since you're not permitted to save mid-level, but must clear one environment to go on to the next, whereupon the game is automagically (yes, magically) saved. It makes for a harder game, but also a more immersive experience, since you're forced to take your time and not just play for a couple of minutes, save and then come back for more later on. One environment easily becomes two, then three, when you are immersed in the experience of EDDF. Just don't forget that you have a sonar. Use it to map out your surroundings. Remember this.

Dreamcast · by optrirominiluikus (70) · 2006

Trivia

David Brin

The original storyline for this game was written by science fiction author David Brin. Brin has won two Hugo Awards, one for Startide Rising and one for The Uplift War. Both novels are part of the Uplift series, and guess what: very intelligent dolphins play a big role in the series.

Extras

Included with the European version of this game is a product catalogue that showcases amongst other things the unreleased Half-Life port for the Dreamcast.

Information also contributed by Bolley Bollington

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Contributors to this Entry

Game added by quizzley7.

PlayStation 2 added by Kartanym.

Additional contributors: Roedie, Brian Taylor, Opipeuter, Deven Gallo, DreinIX, Cantillon, Patrick Bregger.

Game added February 18, 2002. Last modified January 10, 2024.