Ecco the Dolphin

Ecco the Dolphin
Platforms: PC
Publisher: SEGA of America
Developer: Novotrade Software
Genres: Arcade / Platformer
Release Date: 1995
Game Modes: Singleplayer

Sega of America, the company behind the once-mighty Genesis 16-bit game machine, is getting into PC publishing. Now that the Genesis has been surpassed by new, more powerful game machines — and since Sega’s own next-generation Saturn machine probably won’t be the success the Genesis was — Sega is looking to hedge its bets by bringing some its more popular videogame software to the PC. And in the case of Ecco, that’s pretty good news for us computer gamers.

8Ecco is noteworthy on a number of levels, but most obviously for its odd subject matter and main character. You play as Ecco, a dolphin who finds himself alone and facing a great mystery after a strange storm sucks the other members of his pod up into the sky. The game story is told in little snippets of dialog, elicited when Ecco uses his sonar on the other dolphins, whales, and strange crystals he finds during his journey. Ecco’s sonar has other uses, too; if he launches a blast of sound and then waits for it to return to him, you get an area map of your surroundings.

It really is fun to play as a dolphin, if for no other reason than novelty. But actually controlling a dolphin can take getting used to. For example, there are a number of puzzles in the game that require you to use rocks or giant shells to smash barriers; since you don’t have hands, you’ll have to nudge these around with your snout, and getting used to the precise motions required can be very frustrating.

One other problem is that the game’s graphics aren’t anything to write home about. No attempt was made at sprucing them up for Windows, and as a result the game just looks dated. Still, Ecco is entertaining and novel, and once you do get the hang of playing as a dolphin you’ll be rewarded with good, solid arcade gaming. It’s not ground-breaking stuff, but it is a lot of fun.

System Requirements: 80486/33 MHz, 4 MB RAM, Win 3.1

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  1. prenex says:

    Wow I didn’t even knew that this made it onto the PC, but in Hungary we all know this game because it is a “Novotrade legend”.

    Background info:
    Novotrade originally started to operate back in times where we still lived in communism behind the iron curtain and for this reason:
    – We had awsome skilled engineers and scientists who were hungry to work on IT.
    – But they neither had access to it modern technology, neither big guns were sucked up in the other end of the world into companies where they had big money so very good workforce was there or cheap.

    Through trickery Novotrade enabled them to work on games and for long ages they did a lot of groundbraking stuff (even creating the graphics editor prototype for last ninja for example or creating a nintendo devkit or cheap by reversing the whole system in commie way haha). Being in 1995 – way after communism already fell – this title is one of the later, but still successful titles that was completely made by Novotrade, however it is only a port. The original actually had to use very clever tricks to create the “endless feeling scrolling world in every direction” on its original machine, but of course this is just a port of it and if I am not wrong it actually seems to have less sophisticated graphics even than the original… Novotrade was already after its peak times, but still made some enjoyable titles…

    For more background, it is useful to watch “mol4man” which is a quite nice and stunning detailed documentary of the era. It has the game in it and some of the creators are asked questions too.

  2. Cool. Thanks for the info.

  3. prenex says:

    ^^This is the named documentary video. It is actually a series with more topics like demoscene and other stuff too, but this episode is about early video game developers.

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