Crispy Gamer

Games for Lunch: Endless Ocean


Developer: Arika

Publisher: Nintendo

Release Date: Jan. 28, 2008

System: Wii

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.

Want to know more about Games for Lunch? Check out the FAQ here.

Go to Kyle Orland's blog for even more Games for Lunch.