Like Doshin the Giant and Electroplankton before it, the western release of Endless Ocean was one of those somewhat inexplicable Nintendo moments. They’re all games that could quite easily have remained in Japan without anyone being particularly bothered, and when they were launched over here – relatively unheralded, considering their first-party status – hardly anyone seemed to notice.
So we weren’t too taken aback when Endless Ocean 2 was announced to us in a casual ‘oh, that thing – it’s out next week’ sort of way. Presumably they know what they’re doing, but bypassing the games press seems an odd thing to do when the original was so highly rated and the sequel is, if anything, far more gamey.
If the aim was to say that Endless Ocean 2 isn’t for the likes of us, it hasn’t worked. We love it, and we reckon that even if you’re the sort of player who didn’t pick up the original because you were turned off by the idea of floating in a virtual sea and tickling fish for hours on end, this excellent follow-up is sufficiently more involving to merit a second chance.
The main difference is that there are loads more to do once you’re under the water. Last time the experience was all about looking and learning. Endless Ocean 2 still has that aspect, but it also gives you a bunch of tools, so you can interact more with the environment, and a plot that takes you around the world on an aquatic treasure hunt.
Treasure is buried under the sand in certain locations, and once you’ve dived in the general vicinity you have to scan the seabed with a sonar gadget to highlight the right location to dig. As well as the stuff related to the main story there are many small treasures that you excavate and sell to pay for snazzy new gear from a vendor who flits around the ocean on a jet ski.
There’s stuff above the water, too. In the original game you could walk around your boat and maybe meet a hulking great walrus that appeared on the deck to get its picture taken. This time, all of that has been relocated to more sensible places, such as islands. When you find a suitable one, you can climb out and walk around, getting honked at by sea birds.