Together Retro: Ecco the Dolphin

tr-ecco
Presented by Fastbilly & Racketboy
New To Together Retro? Check out the introduction to the club

Alright, heres the pitch: you are a young dolphin whose family gets kidnapped by an evil suction-based terror and you have to explore the ocean to find them and save the world.  If it sounds like the plot of a children’s book, you are close.  It is the plot of the first Ecco the Dolphin game.  Despite its cutesy appearance and children’s book-like plot, Ecco the Dolphin is no child’s game.  Ecco is well-known to be one of the hardest Genesis/Megadrive games released. It is a side scrolling action adventure title from Ed Annunziata, who later went on to create Kolibri, Mr. Bones, and then a host of titles for the N-Gage.  But dont let that phase you, Ed was in his prime when he created Ecco the Dolphin and if you have never played it you are in for a very unique treat.

ecco-screens

History

Ed Annunziata wanted to create a game that was unlike the others on the market.  He chose the sea as a backdrop because it is beautiful, inviting, and deadly.  He chose a dolphin because they are like humans and they intrigue us (because of their intelligence and since they can communicate with each other).

Ecco was chosen as the name since it is a homonym of Echo.  Since echolocation is a central part of the gameplay, this only makes sense.  As a platformer that was not violent and had a heavier emphasis on puzzles, Ecco was released to great accolades.  Despite being well received, it was overshadowed by the more violent titles that were being released at the time.  It also was noted to be extremely difficult.  Despite these issues, it sold well enough to get two quick ports and an enhanced port.  Fairly impressive for one little dolphin.  The enhanced port, on the Sega CD/Mega CD is considered by the diehard fans to be the best version – thanks to the amazingly remastered soundtrack.

How to Play / Controls

To an action adventure fan, gameplay will come quickly.  Ecco is about finding hidden objects, solving puzzles, and fighting enemies but remember that Ecco is a dolphin, and a dolphin is a mammal, meaning Ecco has to breathe every once and a awhile.  So you need to shoot up into the air or find an air patch to keep Ecco going.  A lot of the difficulty comes from not knowing where the air pockets are.

The controls vary per the port obviously, but for the Genesis/Megadrive version:

  • Dpad – Move
  • A – Sonar
  • B – Charge
  • C – Speed Swim

Legacy

  • Ecco the Dolphin spawned a short series.
  • Released sequels are:
  • Tides of Time – Sega CD – 1994
  • Ecco Jr – Genesis/Megadrive – 1995
  • Defender of the Future – 2000

Canceled sequels:

  • Ecco the Dolphin – 32x – Never got passed a tech demo
  • Ecco the Dolphin – Saturn

According to Ecco the Dolphin fansite, Dark Sea, who interviewed Ed Annunziata, neither the 32x or Saturn titles ever existed.  They were created as prerendered video to showcase the systems.  Ironically, neither of them could actually run on the systems based on the polygon counts and shaders used.

Availible Ports

  • Sega CD – enhanced
  • Game Gear
  • Sega Master System
  • PS2
  • PSP
  • GBA
  • Wii
  • PS3
  • 360
  • PC – multiple times

Think of the Sega CD version as a directors cut.  Most of the other versions are similar, so choose whatever format you like the most. Though I have to say it is currently only $2.99 on Steam.

Emulation Help

Racketboy Emulation Forum

Together Retro Discussion

Instead of posting in the comments section of the blog, we will be using the forum for all of our discussion in order to keep things more organized. So play Ecco the Dolphin and talk to us about your thoughts and play experiences in the forums. We want to know your favorite route, your highscores, and your failures.
Discuss The Game In The Forum

3 Comments

  1. Patrick says:

    I’m there. I probably wont make it very far though.

  2. Hugo says:

    A small gem of adventure. The Dreamcast version is really a dream game to play and very detailed if you have played the originals. A low cost game with lots of replay value. Great article!

  3. breakwind says:

    I played Ecco The Dolphin on the PS2 Sega Genesis Collection and it’s sequel on the Game Gear.,back in the mid-90’s.The graphics and sounds on the Game Gear version was most impressive.However had the PS2 Dreamcast port of Ecco been any good i would’ve purchased that version as well.