Ecco the Dolphin

So, whoelse has played Ecco the Dolphin around here? What's your favorite game of the series? Which soundtrack do you like best? ^^

My favorite is the first Ecco, I have the most memories of my childhood. Though Tides of Time comes in as a close second, for its great storytelling and soundtrack :)

I actually prefer the chiptune soundtrack, but only because I played it on the SEGA Mega Drive all the time as a kid. But the CD soundtrack is so awesome, and sets up a whole new atmosphere when playing the games.

Does anyone else get nightmares of Vortex creatures? ;P

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  • I first played Ecco the Dolphin when I was two or three years old, I think it was before the sequel came out. I don't remember if I was introduced to Ecco or Free Willy first, but I liked that the game had orcas in it. My babysitter had this bin full of boxed Genesis games, and one of the things that drew me to Ecco was the cover art - it would be cool if they got Boris to do art for the Big Blue as well. Just looking at the game cart and the box make me feel nostalgic and the memories flood back. I would spend whole hours playing the game in my sitter's basement. I never got past the Undercaves, but one of us was good at the game and she would get me past that level so I could play some of the other levels later in the game. Back in 1993 we all thought the Vortex storm was horrifying. ^^ I never knew the Tides of Time existed, because no one ever talked about it but everyone knew about the first game.

    The first game is my favourite. I prefer the chiptune soundtrack because it sounds more haunting and mysterious. I find the Sega CD music is ambient, but it doesn't have that heavy, oppressive atmosphere that the original does. For me, the chiptune music set the tone for the entire game.

    Years later when we had PS2, I saw DOTF at the video store and rented it because I was like "I remember Ecco!". But it just wasn't the same game. ^^ One of the things I didn't like about that game was that the music sounded bland and added nothing to the game for me.

    If Ecco 3 ever gets made, would you want it to be in the style of the original graphics (like how Megaman 9 went back to 8-bit), or would you want it to be in 2.5D with modern graphics? I'd love it if they made it in 16-bit, it would be even better if they gave it a Genesis release as a limited edition (Capcom was considering giving Megaman 9 a NES release). Since it seems like most of the original Ecco fanbase is in our 20s and 30s, I'd think most of us still have our Genesis/Megadrive consoles around.

  • I have to admit I never finished the original Ecco. The first Ecco game I played was Tides of Time, so it was difficult to go back to the original. The Tides of Time took me several years of dropping and then replaying the game before actually finishing it. I remember how it was the first game where I was actually impressed with the storyline. The Genesis/Megadrive version had some of the best music I've ever heard in a video game, let alone a Megadrive one. The SegaCD music wasn't bad but just not as memorable. The best example is probably Tube of Medusa, the Megadrive music really adds something extra to that stage.

    I never played DotF. Partially because I never owned a Dreamcast, but also because of the fact that the story had nothing to do with the Megadrive games (though perhaps that was for the best).

    As for Ecco 3: the fact that even today I still remember the ending of the Tides of Time says enough about how much I want a sequel. About the graphics: definitely 2D, but not "16 bit" and definitely not on the Megadrive. The underwater levels in Rayman Origins are a good example of what I'd like to see. The game's atmosphere is a tad too silly for my taste, but it's a great example of how good a 2D game can look in HD.

  • I still like the 16-bit graphics of the original Ecco. But I thought the graphics in Tides of Time felt "cold" (which I suppose was partially intended) and sterile. They just didn't produce the same kind of atmosphere for me. For example, I thought the islands in Ecco looked beautiful, but in the sequel the islands with the palm trees looked kind of bland. I only played Tides of Time for the first time in 2011 (I never owned a Genesis until then), so maybe I just had inflated expectations from the original game.

    I don't think it was a bad game, but I did find it a bit disappointing. I was really excited when I found out the Vortex had entered the ocean, but I didn't like being immediately ripped away from that and sent off to Trellia's time. It would be more dramatic if you didn't know right from the beginning (being printed on the back of the box), like how the mystery in Ecco the Dolphin is slowly solved as the game unfolds. I don't think the Vortex invasion and the death of the Asterite in Ecco 2 had to been handled in exactly the same manner, but the first few stages feel like filler because you already know what's going to happen.

    I thought the game was very exciting towards the end, when the armies of whales and dolphins go off to fight the Vortex. But I was disappointed in the fight with the Vortex Queen. The final boss fight in Ecco was HARD, scary and disturbing, but in Tides of Time it's more of an annoyance, with the gimmick of being swallowed and going through that mini-stage.

    I didn't mind the music in Tides of Time, but I don't remember as many of the tracks as the first game. One of the things I liked was that they aged Ecco and he feels heavier because he's larger in the second game.

  • Tides of Time is one of my favorite games ever. I didn't own a Genesis at the time, but I convinced my cousin to buy it one night I was staying over there. We stayed up all night playing until we got stuck at the Tube of Medusa. My cousin gave up on it, but every time I came over I would try to beat it. It took a few visits, but eventually I managed to get past it. It felt like I had crossed a milestone and my cousin was thoroughly impressed. I continued on to beat the game that day. I remember thinking to myself what a hardcore gamer I was after that, ha!

    Defender of the Future also had some very memorable moments for me. There were some really creepy levels in deep, dark greenish water where you meet those "other" dolphins. I don't remember if they had certain mutations or what, but they were different somehow. And the later levels with the water tubes and spheres in the sky was very impressive and a little frustrating too. It felt like my stomach dropped every time I tried to jump across the sky to some other waterway.

    The music is such a huge part of all the Ecco games. It really pulls you into this mysterious ocean world.The Tides of Time soundtrack is my favorite. I agree with Draikin, the Tube of Medusa music perfectly captures the intensity of that stage. I actually recorded it on casette at my cousins house so I could listen to it at home. 

    I could also see a new Ecco game similar to Rayman Origins water stages. That's my 4 year old son's FAVORITE game EVER!. So I'm sure he would love it, too. But whether it's 2D or 3D or whatever, I would buy it.

    • Cube
    • Freelance 3D Game modler (3D studio max/Maya tool focus)
    • Cube
    • 9 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    I have All the ecco game on Genesis sega cd game gear and dreamcast. I have had them for like 20 years.

    The sega CD sound tracks are the best there is no question it adds so much to the game the genesis one don't come close.  It's good better than most genesis games but not anywhere near the sega CD. the Sega CD version was so good I stopped playing the Genesis versions and just played the sega CD.  I didn't buy Ecco 2 on the genesis until way after the sega cd version because 1st game was so much better on the sega CD.

    It has early CG rendered videos too.

    the final boss battle is 20 times more scary with the sega cd music.

    the same with the sega cd version of earthworm jim... But I got no warning it was coming so I aleady had it on genesis and SNES so I had to tripple Dip. other wise I just would have got the sega cd version. the carts are fun noviltys though so I keep them around but don't really play them I play the cd versions.

  • So does anyone have a Tides of Time cart that is not suffering from actiplaque? It seems to be a problem with all red-label Genesis carts. Apparently it happens when companies use cheap glue for the cart labels, which eventually causes it to bleed through into the art and discolour/blotch it.

    • Cube
    • Freelance 3D Game modler (3D studio max/Maya tool focus)
    • Cube
    • 9 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    My sonic 3 cart is discolored on the label and it was not 20 years ago when I bought it.

  • So who here loves to play Ecco in the dark on an old CRT TV? As a kid I loved doing that because CRTs light up the room around you so it makes you feel like you're underwater.

  • The Vents music on Sega Genesis (non CD) is my favorite tune.

    I was always partial to the first game on Sega CD though.   The atmosphere of the game is pretty much the best thing ever.

    It's still eerie to me to jump up out of the water and see those ruined buildings in the background.

  • Does anyone know anything about this?

    An Ecco the Dolphin Tiger Electronics handheld. I had one of these Pocket Arcade things for "Bug!", I liked it back in the day.

    • Silversea (James)
    • Wildlife Photographer and part-time Game designer. Responsible for production of Songtide series of Ecco fangames.
    • Silversea_James
    • 9 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    I cannot decide whether I prefer Tides of Time or Defender of the Future.

    Defender always had a more depth story line and exploration whereas the 2D Ecco games were more or less "find exit". In DOTF you could swim around and explore areas much more.

    Music wise I think on average I'd go for Tides.

  • I recently purchased a model 1 High Definition Graphics Sega Genesis to replace my model 2 with the poor sound quality (it makes horrible screeching sounds in Ecco games, such as during high notes in the music in Ice Zone). When I booted up Tides of Time and heard the title screen music, my jaw literally dropped because it sounded incredible on the original sound chip! The game has a totally different atmosphere now with the superior sound!

  • Sega is re-releasing Ecco the Dolphin with super casual mode for the 3DS store.

    Optional, but it comes with:

    -Invincibility mode: nothing kills you and you don't need to surface for air

    -save states

    It may be optional but it seriously begs the question: what's the point? With that stuff it's not even a game anymore, it's pure hand holding. This is an ongoing trend with companies seriously dumbing down re-released retro games because they're too hard for kids in the modern generation.

    I find it interesting that the article says:

    "3D Ecco the Dolphin also allows players to switch between the Japanese game and overseas release. The Japanese version is more difficult and has other tweaks."

    I thought the Japanese version of the game had lower difficulty, like checkpoints in Welcome to the Machine? Back then some games had lower difficulty in Japan because it's illegal to rent games there (the Japanese version of Castlevania 3 is much easier).

  • I'm really looking forward to seeing that. I have to buy a 3DS now!
  • Too bad 3DS is region locked! Unless you want to pay $200 to import it from Japan and find yourself a power converter to charge the battery. You'd also likely need to find yourself a spoof Japanese IP to get access to the store. :)

  • Really hope they release it in the UK soon!
    • Silversea (James)
    • Wildlife Photographer and part-time Game designer. Responsible for production of Songtide series of Ecco fangames.
    • Silversea_James
    • 9 yrs ago
    • Reported - view

    I'm looking forward to this since I have a 3DS. I saw a lot of the virtual console games on there but was not sure Ecco would ever make it. I'd prefer original difficulty though. :c

  • Not to dampen the mood around here, but even on their own hardware (Saturn and Dreamcast), Sega was always terrible at emulating their older games, especially Genesis titles, so I wouldn't expect much. Their recent re-release of Sonic 1 for the 3DS was slammed for various reasons.

    In recent years they've released a series of terrible port collections with lousy emulation (especially the audio). The "Sonic's Ultimate Genesis Collection" was a bunch of Genesis titles on a Bluray, stretched to HD resolutions and then a blur filter smeared on top because they hoped people wouldn't notice. One of the most notorious examples is the GBA version of Ecco which featured washed out colours, bad controls and ONE audio track looping constantly for the entire game. Then there's the Sonic Mega Collection Plus for PS2: poor controls, washed out audio and all the games have a border around them as if you were playing on a PAL TV.

    A lot of people forget that Sega is not the same company anymore. They're now owned by Sammy, a pachinko company that bought them out shortly after the death of the Dreamcast. The company effectively died in the mid 90s when they fired Tom Kalinske, the man who made the Genesis what it was (the Japanese branch was jealous of his success: the Genesis was in third place in Japan behind the SNES and PC Engine). Then in the Saturn years, between Nakayama and Bernie Stolar, those two destroyed the company and brought Sega from 60% market share with the Genesis in North America, to 2% with the Saturn. After that the Dreamcast had no chance of success (despite having awesome hardware and console design) and there was a mass exodus from the company when they fired all their third party developers (Sentinels of the Universe is a well known casualty of this). Long story short: Sega's consoles were only ever in first place in the west and the Japanese branch destroyed the company by forcing their ways on them (the troubled history of Sonic Xtreme is a great example of this). There's literally almost nobody at the company from its heyday 20 years ago. Sega is not unique in this regard, many formerly formidable developers are in the same boat because all the people who made it awesome 20 years ago have left their companies and this can explain some of the problems with the state of the game industry today. Like other fallen console makers (SNK, Atari), they're a shadow of their former self. Now they just bank on the nostalgia market, like those officially licensed Genesis console clones with the functionality of a Chinese pirate console you'd buy at a shady mall.

    The Sonic 4 disaster just shows they do not even know how to make their nostalgia products. Everything about that game was flat out wrong and played nothing like the Genesis games it was trying to imitate. And even worse, they dared to call it Sonic 4 and then forced the modern character designs and homing attack into the game. Everyone my age hates the modern Sonic design: noodle legs, big anime eyes and the single-expression sneer on the face. There is no denying Sonic 4 was trying to be a nostalgia product, and Sega went about it in a very arrogant manner and angered everybody. The correct way to go about making a modern "retro" game is something like Megaman 9 and 10: those games went back to looking and playing exactly like the series' glory days in the 8-bit era. And best of all, they were fresh, creative and on par with the best off their NES predecessors.

    Just look at Sega's E3 this year, they announced nothing that people wanted. The Ecco community is one of the more laid back fanbases of dead Sega franchises, but Sega doesn't even listen to the more vocal ones. People have been begging them for years for a new Streets of Rage, Shining Force, Shenmue, Panzer Dragoon, or (classic) Phantasy Star and Sega just ignores them and releases more bad Sonic games and Hatsune Miku rehashes. There was an incredible backlash behind their treatment of the Valkyria Chronicles franchise when they announced what they were doing with the sequel, then Sega held it hostage and told people that if they don't buy it there won't be any more games. Now the company is kept afloat by party games, Kinnect games and kart racers. Their main product is now Total War, which they themselves never made in the first place.

    The community of former Sega console owners is divided between those who are nostalgic and laid back and those who are bitter towards the company. I was a Genesis kid and Sega was the first console company that I was a fan of. Now I am very bitter towards them, especially for their treatment of Ecco and their utter contempt for the fans with this:

    Sure some people say it was just a joke, but you should have seen the backlash against Capcom's inclusion of "bad box art Megaman" in their latest fighter, especially since it came right after their cancellation of Megaman Legends 3.

  • Icedolphin, that really was just a joke. I was actually glad to see Ecco featured on their blog. RubyEclipse isn't the one making the decisions on whether or not to continue the franchise. I'm sure he'd like to see a new Ecco just as much as the other fans.

    Don't get me started on Sega though. Suffice to say, they're really struggling to find their place in the gaming market at the moment. In fact, I posted this on their forum today to see if we can help them with this problem:

  • Sega's never been one to listen to their fans. From what I've heard, back in the day the fans got together and made a 'localize Shining Force 3' campaign, then Sega threatened to sue any site that talked about the campaign and gave it publicity.

    In recent years they've been creating a lot of spite online by shutting down fan games with cease&decist orders, even though they're fan games of franchises they themselves have not touched in over a decade ("Streets of Rage Remake").

    My view is that Sega themselves have not made a good game since 1994 (Tides of Time and Phantasy Star IV). I literally do not own a single first party title for my Saturn or Dreamcast.

    To be honest, I hate modern Sega, I really do. When they made Segagaga it just showed they were wrapped in a giant shell of their own ego. I think their early cancellation of the Dreamcast did an incredible amount of damage to the industry because it took down all their third party developers with it (it destroyed Kenji Eno's career among others). Then right after that they stabbed all their former console owners in the back by immediately porting Dreamcast games over to PS2, Gamecube and Xbox with money they claimed they did not have. I don't want to create a negative mood on the board, but I can not understand why anyone in their 20s or 30s would still care about Sega. All they're doing is squatting on good IPs.

    It's like the situation Capcom is in now. Capcom is an evil company sitting on a lot of good IPs, (they deserve every last bit of hate they get for the cancellation of Megaman Legends 3. People have been waiting 13 years for that game.) but they won't touch anything that isn't Street Fighter or Resident Evil. There hasn't been a real Megaman game since 2010 and they've been neglecting the franchise out of spite for Infaune leaving the company. They've also been treating the Phoenix Wright fans poorly even though that series has had a consistently strong fanbase since the beginning.

    Capcom, as with Sega, I think it's better that the companies just die so someone will buy their IPs and actually do something with them. The problem is, there are no good candidates in the modern game industry (outside of what Playchemy would do with Ecco).

  • I don't have the same view on Sega's past as you do Icedolphin. Not owning first party titles for the Saturn and Dreamcast is something I find difficult to imagine (NiGHTS and Panzer Dragoon Saga for example are among the best games I've ever played). There's plenty I can fault them, and the current Sega is no longer the Sega we grew up with, but I can't say I hate the company. As for Segagaga, I think you're really misinterpreting what that game symbolized. Have you read the Wikipedia article about it?

  • After the Genesis, I had an N64 and I never knew the Saturn or Dreamcast existed (poor marketing). And frankly, I don't regret missing out on those two systems given their tragic histories. All I remember was seeing ads for something called a Saturn in some comic books. To be fair I have not played Nights, but it looks boring and like a glorified tech demo and from a gameplay perspective I do not see what is so great about Panzer Dragoon Saga (I'm a harsh judge of JRPGs) outside of its mythical price tag.

    I know SGGG was a joke, but it came at the wrong time. The purpose of the Dreamcast was to try to detoxify the Sega brand, but instead of going back to what people wanted (Genesis era titles), they just continued forcing 3D on people (I know that was the trend at the time), that is also what made the Gamecube fail (SNES is remembered as the glory days of the company the same way we remember the Genesis).

    If you're curious, this is what my collection looks like:



    -Enemy Zero



    -Rockman 8

    -Tengai Makyou IV

    -Shining Force 3 (forgot I own this one, I hate the game though).



    -Bust A Move 4


    -Evolution 2


    -Jojo's Bizarre Adventure

    -Grandia 2

    And I've played Shenmue, don't even get me started on that. That game and its bloated development costs is what created the cancer that is "AAA" games (graphics over substance) and helped sink the company. The structure of the game is essentially like an old Japanese 8-bit text adventure but in 3D (think Tantei Saburo or Snatcher) but with a tacked on clunky fighting engine. The thing is, even if Shenmue was a 2D text adventure, it would still be incredibly boring.

  • @Draikin: Just so I don't sour the mood in this thread, I will clarify my position. This is not really the thread for this discussion so I will keep it short.

    I have been through the full cycle of console fanboyism. The Genesis is what turned me into a gamer at a young age. Then I had the N64 + GBC (most of my childhood was spent with this console) + Windows 98. Then I had PS2 + GBA. Then I had PS3 + PSP. Then I got thoroughly disgusted with modern gaming and I've been retro exclusive for around three years now, and I've been very happy with it. The Genesis is the perspective I view gaming through and people are free to think I'm stuck in my ways.

    I've watched every single franchise I've ever cared about die before my eyes in the last 10 years. I've watched the genre of available video games shrink down to almost nothing in this generation (I blame the death of 2D gaming in the 32-bit era for opening the door to this). People do not care about gameplay anymore, they only want their pretty "HD" graphics, 60 FPS obsession, and brown&bloom shooters, with everything that is not "AAA" or a "social media" game being considered a "b-game". I am sick of this endless plague of pretentious cut scene selection simulators and interactive movies like Heavy Rain and The Last of Us flooding the market and claiming they have the literary value of Shakespeare or Tolstoy. I am sick of every company thinking that a game has to sell like COD to be successful, and cancelling all other game projects that they do not think will sell more than 6 million copies. I am sick of the age of disposable electronics and consoles with low build quality and planned obsolescence. The machines do not interest me and the games do not interest me.

    So yes, I am very bitter. But I do not think I am hard to please.

    That said, given how bitter I am, it should say something that I have not played PC games since Windows 98 and I am prepared to throw money at Ed for The Little Blue. I was not joking when I said it is the last care I have for modern gaming.

  • I can certainly understand where you're coming from. I don't like where the gaming industry is heading and why people are supporting the practices that make games revolve more and around draining real money from the player. I get that games cost money. But nowadays, games are starting to resemble gambling machines. Make it easy to access them, and as soon as they're invested in the game, get them to spend their money. Nowadays gamers can easily spend $300 on a game where they would otherwise have paid $50 ten years ago for the same content.Worse, we're confronted with this in the actual game. Goodbye immersion.

    It's not that people don't care about gameplay though. It's just that the marketing is so strong that they're basically told what to like. Rivalries between COD and Battlefield are artificially created and provide free marketing.That said, there's plenty of recent games still worth playing. Between all the FPS clones, there's always going to be a game like Journey, Limbo, Minecraft or Bastion. And when games like Mirror's Edge get a sequel (or rather reboot), I think there's still hope left for the industry.

    Also, I'll forgive you for saying NiGHTS looks like a glorified tech demo since you haven't played the game ;)

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