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Pop quiz time: when you think of a video game, what usually comes to mind? Pouncing on enemies’ heads as Mario as you race to save the Princess? Speeding through a level as Sonic en route to a showdown with Dr. Eggman? Throwing the game-winning touchdown in the Super Bowl during a nail-biting game of Madden 09? Or perhaps flying through space, defeating huge bosses in Gradius or Ikaruga?
With Endless Ocean for the Nintendo Wii, Nintendo and developer Arika have created something that is vastly different from the typical video game. There are no villains to defeat, no worlds that need saving, no tense high-speed action and no brain-straining puzzles that need solving. Endless Ocean is all about exploration, as players create a scuba diver, and after a brief tutorial, they leave the boat that serves as their base of operation and hit the waters near Manoa Lai. There they can swim to their heart’s content, interacting with various species of marine life (as well as various types of birds and other land creatures on the boat) and exploring different areas of this vast undersea landscape in either first- or third-person perspective.
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Yes, that concept is what’s at the heart of Endless Ocean, but there are some nuances added into the mix. For example, players are also given the option to complete various missions during the game. These missions entail things like finding a certain area or serving as a guide for another character on a dive. Successful completion of these tasks nets various benefits, such as new equipment, but again, they are completely optional. A person could play this game for hours on end and never once accept a mission. Other features include the ability to create an aquarium filled with various creatures, take pictures and complete an encyclopedia of sorts filled with information on the different species encountered in the game.
The game has received fairly strong reviews on the whole, but is it something that most gamers would enjoy? That’s difficult to say. One the one hand, Endless Ocean is an enjoyable experience, and an excellent title to unwind with after a long day. It is a great stress reliever, and the quality in-game music adds to the soothing atmosphere (although players can reportedly use their own MP3 music files via an SD Card; this feature was not tested for this review). On the other hand, some players will become bored or irritated with the general lack of goals and traditional action. Chances are, if Endless Ocean sounds like something you would enjoy, it probably is. Most gamers will want to rent first, however.
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Endless Ocean (Nintendo Wii)
- ESRB Rating: E for Everyone
- Publisher: Nintendo
- Official Website: http://www.endlessocean.com/main/pc/index.html
- Rating: Worth A Rental (60/100)