Things that live on dry land don’t seem to be dangerous, but that’s not the case when you’re out of your element, breathing from a cylinder. The routes to some areas are patrolled by hungry sharks, and they’ll gnaw at you until you have to surface – presumably to have your legs reattached. Getting past those monsters usually involves zapping them several times with a weird sort of pulsar weapon, which persuades them via the power of electricity to go and eat somewhere else.
The pulsar is also used for identifying and healing sick animals – yes, as well as being a treasure hunter, naturalist and explorer, you’re also a kind of unsolicited underwater vet for wild animals. This is where we’d invoke the ghost of Steve Irwin to remind us all that most of the time these things don’t really like being messed around with but, hey, it’s only a game.
Your base is an island that looks small and flat enough to be completely swamped by the wash from your boat. You can park up there and save your game. On one half of the island there’s a gazebo with a table where you can read your journal and possibly have a barbecue with your mates, assuming anybody could find you out there in the salty vastness. There’s also a shed where you sleep.
If you head out to the end of the jetty you can play minigames with dolphins. You get one for free right at the start of the game, and others can be persuaded to join you if you manage to zap them during a dive.
Apart from the new shore-based parts, it looks much the same as the original – no bad thing, as that’s still one of the prettiest Wii titles around. A close-up camera for looking at coral and interesting bits of the sea floor is the only new visual treat, but it’s annoyingly restricted in the amount you can scroll around these super high-res shots – you can only pan the camera a tiny bit before you hit a barrier. And after a while you start spotting the exact same coral all over the place, which is probably when it’s time to take a break from all the swimming.
This thing really eats up the hours. You can get as far through it as you like, as long as you have the time, and the only parts that require any skill are when you’ve got a shark bearing down on you and you’re fumbling for the pulsar button.
But it definitely feels like a proper game, unlike the original, and there’s a real sense of achievement when you find your way through an underwater maze and chance upon something truly spectacular – of which there are many instances in Endless Ocean 2. Will anyone notice that it’s been released outside of Japan? Well, at least we’ve spotted it, and we dare say that if you’re hankering for something completely different from the average Wii title, you’ll be glad you found it too.
Feb 22, 2010