Endless Ocean (Wii) review
"Endless Ocean provides a unique challenge to both a reviewer and a player in that it seems to resist straight-forward description. While it can be said that the experience of playing any game will differ from player to player since no two people will want to play a game in quite the same way, Endless Ocean is essentially stripped of what little shared experiences gamers may have. There is virtually nothing to in Endless Ocean other than swim aimlessly among the fish of its..."
Endless Ocean provides a unique challenge to both a reviewer and a player in that it seems to resist straight-forward description. While it can be said that the experience of playing any game will differ from player to player since no two people will want to play a game in quite the same way, Endless Ocean is essentially stripped of what little shared experiences gamers may have. There is virtually nothing to in Endless Ocean other than swim aimlessly among the fish of its vast fictional sea, yet that same simplicity is the game’s greatest asset. The experience that you can create by playing Endless Ocean is likely not something you’ve encountered in any other game. Combined with intuitive controls, a thoroughly relaxing atmosphere, and a budget price, it is an excellent, though limited, diversion from the typical games populating many systems today.
To describe Endless Ocean doesn’t really do the game justice. You are on a boat. You can move said boat around the waters surrounding a fictional pacific island. You swim in said water. There are fish. You can take pictures of said fish. You can also poke them with your finger. Sometimes you get emails on your PDA that request you to perform a guided tour or to photograph a specific fish for a magazine – if you feel like it, that is – just don’t make the mistake of thinking that these requests in any way change your true objective of swimming around and looking at fish. You control your diver by holding down the B button, which causes your character to swim wherever the Wiimote is pointed. If you push the A button, you’ll interact with things. Most of what you’ll be doing is swimming and looking at fish, and this is done so intuitively that your grandmother would probably be able to manage. Pointing the Wiimote at a fish and pressing the A button zooms in a bit closer. From here you can either poke, pet, or feed the fish. Doing these things allow you to become familiar with the creature, which reveals a brief snippet information about it. The more familiar and your new friend become, the more information you can read. All of that aquatic lore will be added to a handy book you can read on your boat at any time.
While different fish appear at different times of the day and during different seasons, don’t make the mistake of thinking that you are embarking on some sort of diving simulation. There is no time limit and no hazards to speak of. If you repeated poke a shark, a jellyfish, or a sting ray, the logical result of death will not occur. You don’t have to worry about getting stuck in a rock formation or running out of air either. There really isn’t much to do besides swimming around, interacting with fish, and taking the occasional photograph. If marine biologists actually live a life this carefree, I have most definitely chosen the wrong career.
It is hard to explain why doing nothing isn’t boring. There is something charming about discovering an exotic fish hiding in a rock crevice or swimming through an underwater cave. If you’re one of those people that enjoys scrutinizing every little surface, Endless Ocean’s vast labyrinth of coral formations, underwater valleys, and adorable sea creatures will amuse you for many hours. When you’re floating through a patch of seaweed, listening to the ambient breathing of your character and the game’s new age soundtrack, it’s easy to forget entirely that you’re even playing a game. It’s sort of like sitting in a warm bath – you don’t think about much other than “ah, this is nice.”
There is some semblance of a “main quest”, though it is misleading to call it that since it never takes center stage. Your marine biologist companion Katharine, who spending the game lazily standing around the deck of your boat, will mention certain activities of interest from time to time, but there’s no rush and no pressure to actually complete them. Doing so however let’s you learn a bit about her as a person, which is of mild interest since she’s the only person you’ll be seeing regularly. Completing these “tasks” (though it’s hard to call swimming around a cave at your leisure much of a task) will take about 10-15 hours, depending on the amount of time you spend swimming around and looking at fish. If you wish to catalog the 200+ sea creatures and salvage all the items sunken in the deep, consider that time to increase ten fold. Beyond that, you can befriend creatures like dolphins to become your swimming partner and have them perform tricks near the back of your boat or join you in a dive. There is also an aquarium on the mainland in which you can populate with the sea life you discover. Sometimes you’ll receive new wetsuits and hair styles to customize the appearance of your character. If you have a friend that enjoys the game, you can dive with him or her over Nintendo Wi-Fi. If all else fails to entertain you, there is a lounge chair on the deck of your boat so that you can sit down and watch the sun set.
The amount of time and enjoyment you will get out of Endless Ocean is directly related to your willingness to become intoxicated by it’s underwater environments. If you’ve ever found yourself wanting to forgo the pressure and anxiety of most other games and wander aimlessly around a vast virtual world, Endless Ocean may just be the tropical vacation-on-a-disc that you desperately need. There isn’t really much to the game, but the experience really isn’t like anything else out there.
And did I mention that it retails at a mere $29.99 USD?
Community review by dagoss (January 26, 2008)
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