Name: Endless Ocean
Platform: Nintendo Wii
Endless Ocean lays all of its cards on the table as soon as you hear what it is about. There isn’t a secret element that you can expect to find or some interesting gameplay innovation hiding somewhere on the disk. You dive underwater and pet fish, while occasionally going back to your boat to either train animals or move the boat to a different part of the ocean. That is literally all you do in the game.
There are some slight variations from time to time, including taking some pictures, escorting inexperienced people on dives or joining up with friends over Nintendo Wifi Connect to explore together, but it all boils down to petting fish. Animals can’t attack you, because apparently even hammerhead sharks enjoy a good pet from time to time, and while there is an oxygen meter you would be hard pressed to ever run out.
Oh, and the first guy you escort looks exactly like Sean Connery, and that is awesome.
Graphically, the game is impressive for the Wii, with fairly sharp character models and even sharper fish models. The entire underwater world is beautiful in its simplicity, with the game trying to keep a realistic and non-stylistic approach to our amazing ocean. It isn’t meant to break boundaries – just to immerse.
Gameplay uses just the remote and has you pointing where you want to swim and hitting a button to swim there. Calming music plays as you move around and identify different fish for your journal (the closest thing Endless Ocean has to a “game” element).
It is an experiment in relaxation, and while it may not be amazing it can still be impressive. From time to time, short cut scenes will introduce new elements into the game. Being able to hold onto a humpback whale as it slowly drifted through the sea was a fun experience, and while I wasn’t awe struck, it was a fun ride that I assume would be even better in real life.
Online play is interesting and unnecessary all at the same time. Being able to swim around and show your guest, who can only be invited with a Friend Code, of course, would be more useful if you were able to actually speak to them in any way. Instead, pre-set phrases can be said by pressing on the D-Pad. There isn’t a real point to it, but if the situation comes up where you would want to play this game over the Internet and have the ability to, odds are you will not be disappointed.
It comes across as more of a toy then a real game, and with a budget price of $29.99 it is well worth the purchase for anyone seeking a way to wind down that won’t numb the brain. At the very least, give it a try. You may find yourself wanting to never come back.