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Travel through time along with Ecco the dolphin, in the only game that could call itself a "dolphin simulator". Indeed, you can do pretty much everything a typical dolphin does, including eating fish, surfacing in order to breathe, using your biological sonar and of course, jumping out of the water to amaze your friends.

The storyline is actually deeper that one may think by looking at the box illustration. As Ecco, you are the only dolphin who managed to escape from a giant whirlpool which sucked down your entire pod. The five shining stars on your forehead show that you are the chosen one to save them. But that task will be not be an easy one, as you will have to travel through time and space with the Atlantean time machine, and meet the mystical Asterite in order to defeat the Vortex Queen.

The main part of the gameplay in Ecco the Dolphin relies on exploring various aquatic levels. They are usually nonlinear, with submerged caverns and tunnels branching out from the main bodies of water. The navigation is impeded by islands that must be hopped over, volcanoes that spit hot lava, powerful currents, deadly spikes, and dangerous predators such as octopi and giant eels. The sonar ability has multiple functions: you can communicate with friendly animals, map out the nearby area (echolocation), activate glyphs, and eventually defeat enemies. Activating glyphs is necessary because they can unlock unexplored parts of the current level, including the exit that leads to the next area; some of them can even bestow the gift of invincibility on Ecco for a limited time.

You must keep an eye on the life and breath meters. Dolphins can't stay underwater for a long period of time and must return to the surface for air. However, the cavern systems may hide the occasional pocket of air as well. Every time you are hit by spikes, lava, or an enemy, Ecco loses health, and once it reaches zero you will have to replay the level from the beginning. The life meter can be replenished by eating fish or by finding healing clams, called the Shelled Ones, and communicating with them. It's possible to avoid most enemies, but Ecco can kill troublesome creatures using the death sonar or by charging them head-on.


Ecco the Dolphin Game Gear This high
Ecco the Dolphin Windows 3.x Boundaries of the bay
Ecco the Dolphin Windows 3.x Dual jumping
Ecco the Dolphin Game Gear On to first level

Promo Images

Ecco the Dolphin Screenshot
Ecco the Dolphin Magazine Advertisement pp. 22-23
Ecco the Dolphin Magazine Advertisement
Ecco the Dolphin Magazine Advertisement Originally scanned by Jason Scott; via The Internet Archive

Alternate Titles

  • "Ecco" -- In-game title
  • "3D Ecco the Dolphin" -- Nintendo 3DS title
  • "エコー・ザ・ドルフィン" -- Japanese spelling

Part of the Following Groups

User Reviews

The Most Beautiful Game Music Ever Created. SEGA CD Guy Chapman (1997)
Cult Classic SEGA CD ETJB (480)
Solitude... Genesis J. G. (7)
Make use of Cheat Codes! Genesis Laura Rosenberger (7)

Critic Reviews

Score Game Gear Aug, 1994 85 out of 100 85
Video Games SEGA CD Aug, 1993 80 out of 100 80
Edge SEGA CD Oct, 1993 8 out of 10 80
Mean Machines Windows 3.x Apr, 1996 80 out of 100 80
PC Gamer Windows 3.x Jan, 1996 75 out of 100 75
Retro Gamer Nintendo 3DS Feb 14, 2014 73 out of 100 73
PC Joker Windows Mar, 1996 69 out of 100 69
Power Play Windows 3.x Mar, 1996 67 out of 100 67 (UK) Wii Jan 23, 2007 3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars3 Stars 60
Mag'64 Wii Dec 23, 2010 5.5 out of 10 55


Topic # Posts Last Post
win 3.x compatible 5 Terok Nor (32335)
Jul 28, 2014
Favorite level music from Ecco the Dolphin 1 Johnny de Alba
Aug 29, 2008


1001 Video Games

Ecco the Dolphin appears in the book 1001 Video Games You Must Play Before You Die by General Editor Tony Mott.

Cut content

There are two spots high above water along the left and right walls of Origin Beach where there were once glyphs (Or some creature) that was removed from the game. However if you use your sonar against those walls you still get messages from them.

The left one says:

"We hear song in the ocean!"

"We hear our kind in the sea!"

"Never have we heard songs in the sea!"

The right one says:

"You sing our song under the waves - who are you?"

"Could we sing in the sea? Could we live in the sea?"

"Perhaps we will try!"

Ed Annunziata explained that this was the answer to the question Ecco was asked in Home Bay "Why do Dolphins live in the sea?"

Ecco was supposed to be talking to his prehistoric ancestors and convincing them to join him in the deep! Unfortunately they were removed to time constraints.


  • FLUX
    • Issue #4 - #100 in the "Top 100 Video Games of All-Time" list
Information also contributed by Big John WV

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Contributed to by Corn Popper (68946), yprbest (128), Michael Cassidy (21110), eXo (345), Tibes80 (1567), Kam1Kaz3NL77 (455728), Kartanym (12706), Sciere (778123), Foxhack (31792), Tomaweezi (156) and Cochonou (1085)