Ecco 2: The Tides of Time

In the vast ocean of otherwise mediocre Sega Genesis games, only about one or two really spoke to me that didn't have anything to do with a blue hedgehog or Jurassic Park. One of them was the insanely classic and insanely hard Ecco the Dolphin 2: The Tides of Time. I never played the first one, so I have no idea about it, but this one had mystical crystals and teleportation rings and time traveling dolphins with super telekinetic powers. It was as New Agey as it gets, and even the soundtrack often sounded lifted from one of those Pure Moods samplers... but man was it awesome.

I loved dolphins. They were my favorite animal and it might've been because of this game, I'm not sure, but this game had sharks and squids and turtles and orcas and just everything cool about the ocean. Every level had some kind of shipwreck in it too, and how the ships got down there was no mystery seeing as giant jagged rocks were basically everywhere. Even Ecco could barely move around underwater without slamming into something and making that painful "squeaking" sound that used to drive me crazy! Play this game for two minutes and all you hear is *squeak* *squeak* *squeak*...etc. I mean, ouch already!

The other thing that used to drive me crazy about this game is just how LONG it is, and how HARD some of these levels ended up being. Take "Tube of the Medusa" for instance. Thanks to the fact that you have no lives, I spent hours sometimes trying to get around that giant squid monster and only ended up getting chucked back time and time again. And when you get chucked out of the sky tube, you fall back two levels and have to work your way back up... it's nearly impossible! Also, as soon as you lose your powers and have to start surfacing for air and looking for bubbles, the game becomes a constant challenge. My brother and I never beat it. We didn't even come close.

But is it a great game? Of course! This game inspired me to invent all kinds of stories around those super-intelligent dolphins, and many a backyard make-believe focused on playing Ecco like we were making a movie version of it or some kind of weird role play. The game was so movie-like already. It did what it was supposed to do and made the ocean mystical and magical, and though it was hard as hell and involved a LOT of "back and forth a hundred times between two points collecting stuff", it was at least imaginative along the way. Any time I got in a swimming pool, I was playing Ecco.

Of course I used to pronounce it "EE-co" for some reason. It took me years to figure it out: "oh... echo... I get it."

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