Originally published in The Daily Toreador.
Let’s get something out of the way right off the bat: If you only like video games with lots of action in them, you are going to hate “Endless Ocean: Blue World.”
“Endless Ocean: Blue World” for the Wii is actually a sequel to the 2008 original “Endless Ocean,” and I would say this new product is an improvement in many ways. However, the core concept is entirely the same. You are a scuba diver intent on exploring the sea and examining the various underwater landscapes and wildlife.
The game, like its predecessor, has a major selling point of being incredibly relaxing. You can play the entire game with one hand, using only the Wii Remote (no Nunchuck required, though you can use the Classic Controller peripheral if you’re so inclined). The lack of action means you can just sit back in your recliner and chill out for a while, swimming with dolphins without ever having to leave the comfort of your home.
Now, this may sound boring to you, and for a lot of people it probably will be. However, there’s something extremely compelling about the exploration aspect itself.
I’ll be honest when I say I didn’t really care much to read about the many, many varieties of fish I encountered, though the game is filled with tons of educational information if you care to learn anything as you play. But I enjoyed sitting back and exploring my surroundings, getting a little excited if I found a sunken ship or anything else interesting.
I say there’s no action, but I guess that’s not entirely true. You have to worry about a couple of things. One is air, as your scuba tank can only hold so much and you need to resurface before you run out.
However, as you progress through the game the amount of air you are able to take gets significantly larger, and resurfacing is a mere menu option away even in the worst cases, so you never have to stress much about drowning.
Occasionally they won’t be too happy to see you, and will try to attack. But even this sort of encounter isn’t met with violence or frantic chase scenes. Instead, you merely pull out a gun-like device that will not only calm down hostile ocean life if hit with enough shots, but will also heal sick or injured fish you may come across.
The game is obviously pro-ocean, and it shows. On top of being extremely educational and entirely lacking in cases where you cause harm to living creatures, you even run into a few environmental sermons, telling you about some of the awful things humans sometimes do that end up killing fish.
That said, there is a definite improvement over the original “Endless Ocean” in that it is, in fact, more of a game this time around. You immediately are thrust into a somewhat fantastical storyline about potentially magical necklaces and sunken castles.
This “Tomb Raider” of the sea style adventure is coupled with a variety of side-missions you can take on, such as guiding tours and collecting gold coins that give you very clear goals and direction. This is perfect for the people who would never be content with merely swimming around aimlessly for hours.
All told, “Endless Ocean: Blue World” surprised me in a lot of ways. I don’t typically care too much for the ocean (though let’s be honest, dolphins are awesome), and games that are slow-paced can be rather hit or miss, but I really enjoyed my time with this one. The exploration aspect was just too addicting.
It’s definitely not a game for everybody, but if you’re looking for something relaxing to help pass the time, this might be a solid choice. It may appeal more to the casual gamer or to the sort of person who loves games like “Myst.” Or maybe it would be something enjoyable to do when you’re smoking hookah by yourself on a Thursday afternoon. You know who you are.