Review: Endless Ocean

Review: Endless Ocean
Review: Endless Ocean

Have you ever wondered what life must be like for that little scuba guy at the bottom of your fish tank? Well what if you could find out?

Nintendo and Arika are taking the Wii into what could definitely be seen as uncharted waters with their new title Endless Ocean, a game that will see you as a boat owner and scuba diver exploring the vast depths of the unknown.

I have to be honest: this is a really hard game to review because Endless Ocean doesn't really do anything. There's no real story here; just a sandbox style scenario that has you exploring the depths, mapping areas, and patting fish so you can get information out of them (yes, it sounds strange but seriously that's what you do).

In fact, you can see this being used by kids at school because of the educational value it presents as well as the relaxation it brings. It's pretty easy to play and your scuba diver is controlled by way of moving the Wiimote in a direction that you want to swim and hitting a button. When on land, it takes more of a point & click approach whereby you'll aim a location you'll want to walk to and hit a button to go there.

Endless Ocean is a title that you can see would really benefit from better graphics. Somehow the Wii's older style graphics just don't help this game along and you can see it really needing a newer graphics engine like the Xbox 360 or the PlayStation 3 has. While the cover of the game sports a photo, the visuals in this game just don't come close and while they're not ugly by any standard, they're certainly not as good as an ocean.

The sound could too be better but it does work here providing a feeling that you're really under the water in a serene place. It does come with a song that would be better if I said nothing about it, but Arika have done something nice and included mp3 playback from the SD slot on the Wii. It's kind of nice actually that you can swim around the waters of a place while listening to your favourite track. Yes... track; singular. Endless Ocean lets you listen to one track before it repeats. You'll select it during the loading screen before each dive so make sure you don't load something that irritates you and goes for a very short time.

You also feel like Endless Ocean could have been done better if it were modelled off of a real place. "Explore the waters of the Great Barrier Reef" or some other place that actually exists would've brought an extra sense of depth to this game.

Endless Ocean is typically Japanese in that it really feels like the sort of game that would normally not see the light of day on our shores. How often do you see a game that is absolutely and complete un-violent? Not even the sharks want to eat you!

Perhaps I've been desensitized and I need to play more Nintendogs but I certainly didn't see a game where you explore the ocean for no reason as... well... fun.

And while it's not very fun, it is relaxing and you can see it as you're playing as one of those games you could turn to if you had a headache or anything else which you could normally answer with one of those nature titles that get played on your CD player or iPod.

That's not to say the game isn't good. It's not exactly an ordinary game thought it doesn't do a lot to push this interesting concept a long. Endless Ocean feels in a way more like a technology demo than anything else. In the right hands and maybe in a year, we could have a title that feels more like a game or even feels slightly complete, a quality that Endless Ocean seems to lack.

In a way, Endless Ocean is very similar to one of those screensavers that Windows used to come with. You could say it's an interactive screensaver for the Wii.

Should you buy it?: Hard to say. If you bought your Wii to relax with then go and buy this. If you don't see yourself ever scuba-diving and fear water, absolutely. If you want to blow stuff up, don't buy this game... unless of course you want to blow the game disc up.

Developer: Arika
Publisher: Nintendo
Classification: G
Formats: Nintendo Wii, PC
URL: Endless Ocean

Reviewed by Leigh D. Stark

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