In a week where the PS3 got its very own white-knuckle suspense thriller, Nintendo quietly released a game whose mission is very nearly the complete opposite. Endless Ocean: Blue World, a sequel to a game that debuted on the Wii back in early 2008, is about the ocean--ocean exploration, scuba diving, cataloging aquatic life, and, for the most part, being serene.
Here in New York, amid a series of snowstorms and clogged storm drains, a virtual trip to South Pacific and Aegean locales never seemed more appealing.
Scott: The original Endless Ocean was more a virtual aquarium visit than a game, focused on lazy swims through surprisingly beautiful undersea ecosystems. Blue World operates the same way, but a number of miniquests and side missions written down in journals offer more structure and tighter chapters of game play. You're basically taking miniature dives in a variety of locales for a few minutes at a time, or as long as your air tanks last.
Though accomplishing mission goals like healing fish or finding treasure are part of the game, it's equally compelling to just slowly paddle around and discover new fish species. Like many recent Wii games, Endless Ocean ditches the nunchuck part of the Wii controller and operates off very simple controls, aiming at the screen for direction and squeezing the Wii remote's trigger button to swim.
The game's characters and soundtrack feel very Japanese, with some of the old-fashioned awkwardness that we either love or hate in old-school RPGs. All the game's aquatic species are real, as are the general locales, so the game also operates as a kind of educational title--although the weird bits of mythological lore that pop up in the unfolding story certainly veer off from fact.
One of the greatest disappointments we felt in Endless Ocean: Blue World was the Wii's lack of advanced HD hardware.… Read more