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Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (Dreamcast) artwork

Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future (Dreamcast) review


"Not only does Defender of the Future have absolutely no replay value whatsoever, it is so gosh-darn hard that you probably won't even finish the freakin' thing! Nonetheless, the game does contain at least some enjoyment, and it looks so good that you'll probably spend all your time admiring your sourroundings and ignoring the actual objective of your quest."



I swim to the ocean floor, then turn to face the surface. Building up speed, I quickly move my flipper up and down to propel myself forward. Dashing out of the water, I fly into the air, sending droplets of water flying in all directions, as I perform a 360-degree double somersault, then fall back into the water nose-first, gliding through it like a living torpedo. I am Ecco. I am the Defender of the Future!

I first bought Ecco: Defender of the Future anticipating a 3D version of my beloved Genesis game, Ecco the Dolphin. I was wrong. Not only does Defender of the Future have almost absolutely no replay value whatsoever, it is so gosh-darn hard that you probably won't even finish the freakin' thing! Nonetheless, the game is fun while its main appeal lasts, and it looks so good that you'll probably spend all your time admiring your surroundings and ignoring the actual objectives of your quest.

Defender of the Future follows the original Ecco storyline: an evil alien race reaks havoc on Earth, and it is up to our star-skulled mammal to save the world, and learn some new skills while he's at it. The story begins when this extra-terrestrial race, known only as ''The Foe,'' decides to take over the Earth, after several failed attempts for many years. The reason these angry bastards have been so unsuccessful is because of the presence of the Guardian, a dolphin-made being that protects the Earth from its home in the lost city of Atlantis (If you remember, in the Genesis Ecco, you swam through Atlantis. This one's different. It doesn't even seem like a 'lost city.'). And so, they destroy the Guardian, of course, and steal the mammals'-- both human and dolphin-- most valued traits. And so, it is up to Ecco to stop The Foe!

The world that Ecco lives in is not only big, it's beautiful. There are coral, boulders, manta rays, giant eels, sharks, octopi, underwater volcanoes, and fields of seaweed. Fish travel in schools, and always maintain a hint of intelligence, and seem like living creatures. Turtles swim like real turtles and even hide in their shells when Ecco charges them head-on. The various levels are beautiful, also. In fact, just playing through ''Hanging Waters,'' witnessing its environment, is enough to make someone want to pay the $60. Ecco himself is a graphical wonder. He swims like a real dolphin. His textures are wonderful; everything from his flippers to his eyes look real. However, the framerate suffers terribly, and becomes an annoyance quickly. Also, the collision detection is a little off, and some clipping and camera problems are apparent. Besides this minor setbacks, the visuals of Ecco's world-- and Ecco himself-- are a graphical masterpiece.

The sound in Ecco: Defender of the Future is pretty good, as well. The soundtrack is full of melody and elegance, and often adds quite a compliment to the wonderful visuals. The narrator's voice-overs, while only heard a couple times, are done well. I can't say much about sound effects, as there aren't many. Aside from the occasional whimper from Ecco, or the little chirp from jumping high in the air, Ecco doesn't emit many sounds. Neither do his enemies. Honestly, I have no complaints about the sound.

Like I said before, this game is HARD!! It is not fun trying to beat the same Great White 5,000,000 times, just to find out that you didn't really need to beat him in order to progress! And, as we all know, Ecco needs air to survive, and when he's exploring an underwater tunnel, where air pockets are hard to find, you find yourself able to explore for only a couple minutes, and then must race to the nearest oxygen supply. Many of the puzzles are difficult to solve as well, but leave you with a very generous boost of self-esteem and confidence. But odds are you'll have to face an even harder puzzle in the next level. The bosses have weaknesses that are extremely hard to figure out, also, and become annoying when you keep trying unsuccessfully to find a strategy for a whole 3 hours. Nonetheless, the gameplay is addictive, and every minute you'll enjoy. However, I see no benefit in replaying the game a second time, as the levels are only fun the first time.

And, so, I have finished expressing my opinions on Ecco: Defender of the Future. Do I recommend this game? Yes. But only if you enjoyed the previous Ecco games, or are interested in underwater life. Of course, any puzzle/adventure fan would enjoy this game, too. In fact, they'll most likely love it. Its difficulty and lack of replay, value, however, may keep some from enjoying it.

Rating: 6.9/10

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Staff review by Zack M (Date unavailable)

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