Ecco 2: The Tides of Time
Box Shot
Ecco 2: The Tides of Time
Platform: Genesis
Publisher: Sega
Designer: Novotrade
Genre: Action/Adventure
Players: 1
Published Date 1994
Reviewed by: Red Baron

It's a sad thing, what the videogame industry is and has been. Games that are all spice and no substance (FF8, for example) fly off of retailers' shelves, while truly great games in proven genres (Xenogears, Soul Reaver, etc.) often languish and die. Some are lucky enough to become cult classics, to be told and retold of how great they are compared to today's games by wackos like you and me. Still, others never get one second in the spotlight. Ecco 2 is a fine example of this; an excellent game that no one's heard of.

Continuing from the story of it's predecessor, Ecco has rescued his family from the clutches of the evil Vortex aliens, hideous creatures that live only to feed from the waters of Earth. But that's all ancient history, for the Vortex Queen was destroyed by Ecco. Earth is safe.. or so you think, as the Vortex Queen follows Ecco back to his home bay, with the intention of tracking down and destroying the Asterite, the being that gave Ecco the power to defeat the Vortex.

The game starts off as Ecco decides to go off exploring. The seas become a rather unfriendly place, as the Asterite dies, and Vortex drones pop up like weeds. Travelling to the future with the help of his descendant Tri- ella, Ecco meets the Asterite, who tells him what's going on. From there, you must go back to your own time, rebuild the Asterite, and give the Vortex Queen a beating she'll never forget!

All of the gameplay mechanics have been faithfully ported from the original to this game, from the talking to NPCs with your sonar (and Ecco still never says a line!), to those damn glyphs. There are lots of new toys thrown in, too. Like the pulsars, which give your sonar a deadly blast, and metaspheres that can transform you from a dolphin, to a seagull, to even a school of fish! The unbalanced difficulty from the first game is now gone. Good riddance. Instead, you can pick from 3 difficulty levels, all of which live up to their names. However, my favorite addition to this game are the 3D stages, where you must swim through several teleport rings that will take you places. It's purty.

The graphics contain so much eye candy, it'll rot your teeth. Ecco & his friends now sport a cool 3D-rendered look, but that's only part of it. The environments are truly stunning, from the bleakness of the Vortex future, to Ecco's home bay, to a revisitation of Atlantis, without a hint of slowdown (Unless you're talking about that level that has 600 jellyfish onscreen at a time). And the aformentioned 3D stages have detail coming out their asses. There's little to complain with soundwise, either, when you see how much the sound effects have improved. The only thing that's keeping THAT from getting a 10 is the questionable placement of some songs (Why is the Moray Abyss theme used for bosses? Stupid...).

Wait, bosses? Yes, they're here too, made of MANY large sprites act- ing as one unity. I'll use the Globe Holder for my example: You're in a large room, with an enormous fleshy ball in the center, that's attatched to the walls via two cords. You have to "push" the GH off its cords with sonar, with it detached, ram it against the walls a few times. It will then dispell the cords, and chase after you, aiming to reduce you to a red stain. As it rushes you, dodge out of the way, and it will hit the wall instead. Repeat, until it becomes still, whereas you should sonar to break it apart. Believe me, it is easier said than done. Other bosses range from a sinking conch shell to the Vortex Queen herself (Who looks a lot less menacing than she did in the first game, though).

Overall, Ecco 2 is one of the most underappreciated games ever made; a perfect example of what a sequel should be. I simply cannot reccomend it enough. Buy it. You'll never eat tuna again.