Games for Lunch: Endless Ocean
Release Date: Jan. 28, 2008
ESRB Rating: E
Official Web site
0:00 I'm a little worried that an hour won't be enough to encapsulate a game with "Endless" in the title. I'm even more afraid that it will be more than enough time.
0:01 An ethereal, a capella harmony sings out over a tranquil picture of a sailboat: "Let your arms enfold us. Through the dark of night. Will your angels hold us 'til we see the light?" I have no idea what that means, but I already feel relaxed.
0:02 I took too long typing, so the game went into attract mode, showing some pastoral underwater scenes. More singing, too: "Hush, lay down your troubled mind. The day has vanished and left us behind." I could listen to this all day.
0:03 "Well g'day there!" The Manoa Lai Oceanic Research Society welcomes me. I pick my name, gender and, uh, tan level. The choices for hairstyle are "Mild" and "Wild!" Neither is very accurate to my actual hairstyle, which I'd rate as "Child!"
0:06 Katherine "Kat" Sunday is my in-ear diving instructor as I make my first dive. Turning is as simple as pointing at the edges of the screen. "Do you turn around a lot? Because you're a pro! Ha ha ha!" Oh Kat. You ham.
0:07 I swim East a bit and am rewarded with a beautiful view of a lagoon. Some nice rock formation spires here. Truly impressive, especially for the Wii.
0:09 And I'm back on my boat, the "Gabbiano." Kat and I stand awkwardly on deck, and it gets even more awkward when she says it gets "lonely" and that it's "nice to have company." Er... that's nice, Kat.
0:10 So my job is basically to protect fish by diving whenever and wherever I want. Hey, I'm not arguing. "I think I'd go crazy if I had to work in an office." Amen, Kat.
0:11 Clicking on a deck chair activates "Gaze at the Ocean" mode. It's much better than the same mode in Halo 3 and Super Smash Bros. Brawl. What? Those games don't have a "Gaze at the Ocean" mode? That's because they are AWFUL!
0:12 You can play your own MP3s from an SD card. I'm tempted to load up some Metallica and crank it over the pastoral ocean scenes. ROCK!
0:14 Financier Alfred Forman wants me to do a topographical survey of some place. Hey man, I'm my own man, man. I do what I want, man. "There's no hurry on this." Pfft, whatever.
0:16 Kat reveals that, despite being a marine biologist, she doesn't know how to swim. PLOT TWIST!
0:19 All right! I get to hear that ethereal intro music again during my second dive! Ahhhh. The stress, she melts away.
0:20 So the first time I examine a fish (by clicking on it with the A button), I don't know anything about it, but then I pet it a few times and can identify it as a Blue Tang. I have no idea how that's supposed to make sense.
0:22 I make it to the Coral Forest just in time for a dolphin to swim around me like a chicken with its head cut off. Kat thinks he was playing a prank on me. Whatever. Real pranks involve whoopee cushions.
0:23 So that "topographical survey" is completed just by swimming around the area a bit. EASIEST JOB EVER!
0:25 I love the way the light shimmers through the surface of the water. The gentle light really makes everything seem more serene.
0:27 Back on the boat, Kat has found a penguin! So cute! It chirps happily as I pet it. Awwww!
0:29 Kat is convinced she can actually understand what animals are saying just by looking at their faces. I'm beginning to worry the lonesome ocean has driven her crazy.
0:30 Kat says she's going to take a nap, but then there she is, standing on the deck telling me to check my e-mail. I bet she never sleeps, she just researches animals through the night until one day she's going to SNAP and pick up a butcher's knife and MURDER ME IN MY SLEEP AIEEEE! All right, calm down Kyle. Gaze at the ocean. Relax. Relaaaaax.
0:32 Kat's encyclopedia of fish already has lots of information gleaned from my magic petting.
0:35 Boo, the game won't let me go night diving yet, even though I rested until nightfall. Still, the sunset views are pretty impressive.
0:37 Number of nights survived without a stabbing incident: One.
0:38 Diving in the Green Garden reveals some larger aquatic life: Seals and sawfish, specifically. The movements for the fish are pretty fish-like, I suppose.
0:43 Back on the ship, I accept a request to guide someone around the Coral Forest. He's a gray-haired Jet Skier named Will Gayne. He wants to see a "humphead wrasse." Whoa, Will. I'm flattered, but I don't swing that way.
0:45 "Let your arms enfold us..." I don't care that I only have two songs unlocked, as long as one of them is this one.
0:47 Every time I look at a fish during the guide mission, Will spouts some treacle-y crap about the ocean. "I hope that all the oceans all over the world remain at peace. Don't you?" Tell it to a nuclear submarine pilot, hippie.
0:50 Will's still bugging me about that humphead wrasse. I feel like a bad guide because I have no idea what he's talking about.
0:51 "Diving with you makes me happy to be alive." Jeez, tone it down, gramps.
0:53 I give up the search for the humphead wrasse. Part of me thinks Will was making the whole thing up. Despite the missing fish, Will gives me a pen that works underwater. Boss! Now if only I had some paper that worked underwater.
0:55 For all his talk of "peace" and the ocean being a "treasure," Will sure likes that noisy, polluting Jet Ski.
0:56 I get some new diving gear as... an e-mail attachment? That's some impressive technology they have on this boat.
0:57 I'm tempted to spend the last few minutes staring at the ocean from a deck chair. So I do!
Would I play this game for more than an hour? If I were stressed.
Why? It's impossible to be stressed while playing this game.
This column was based on a retail copy of the game provided by the publisher.
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