Home > Chronological Challenge, Clearing The Backlog > Clearing The Backlog: Chronological Game Challenge pt 10

Clearing The Backlog: Chronological Game Challenge pt 10

Oh hi, welcome back to my Chronological Game Challenge, where I play every game I own in order of release. I’ve mostly been playing yet another long JRPG, so I only have my thoughts on one game this week. Please understand.

Ecco II: The Tides of Time

Publisher: Sega | Developer: Novotrade International | Year: 1994
Original System: Sega Mega Drive
Played on: PS3 (part of the Sega Mega Drive Ultimate Collection)

Goal: Survive the horrors of the ocean and defeat the Vortex Queen again

Actual Outcome: Defeated the Vortex Queen

Opinion: The first thing I noticed about this second Ecco game was that it wasn’t as creepy as the first. The sea seemed brighter than the first game, and the music was a lot catchier – less prog weirdness, more the funkiness of Sonic or Earthworm Jim.

This kind of worked against Ecco II, however. Both the first and second games shared a relentless difficulty, but the difficulty in sequel was different. Ecco II’s difficulty didn’t make me fear the ocean like the first game. Instead, it seemed to want me to hate it.

The difficulty was bearable in the first game because it contributed to the sense that the sea was a dangerous place full of things that wanted to murder you. It made you feel uneasy. It added to the horror and the tension. It kept you on your guard. This sense of unease felt absent in the sequel. Instead, several new gameplay decisions made the experience maddening.

Ecco II’s problem was that it kept attempting tricky new things while doing little with the core gameplay to adapt to these changes. There was a level where you needed to follow another dolphin to progress. Due to a section with strong currents and a series of jumps over some rocks, it was far too easy to lose the other dolphin in these scenarios, forcing a restart. Worst of all, there was at least one occasion where I lost my buddy right at the end, all because I moved slightly away from him in order to refill my air. Oh yeah, that was fun.

Or how about some of the later levels, which required you to jump through a series of hanging water tubes? On top of that, most of the middle of the game was just one big fetch quest, and this section got tedious fast.

These were all moments that tested my patience more than my skill, and I found myself wanting to play something else as a result. Which brings me to my other point – the lack of horror made this a bland experience outside of the difficulty.

Part of what made the first Ecco such a wonderful game was its sense of mystery. Progression through the game uncovered new clues and opened new discoveries about the world around you. There was a sense of mystery and wonder. Ecco II doesn’t have this. The aliens of the first game are back for revenge, and Ecco must stop them again. That’s it. The end.

It doesn’t help that time travel came back, but was handled in the clumsiest way possible. Ecco leapt back and forth through various time periods throughout the game, but keeping track of these time periods was a nightmare. Ecco travelled to the good and bad futures of his world like an aquatic version of Sonic CD, but it was never clear why. Pinpointing your current position on the timeline at any point felt impossible.

Ecco II disappointed me. I expected so much more after how much I loved the first game. While it proved to still be a great game in its presentation, it did awkward things to the difficulty and removed much of the creepy charm of its predecessor. And that makes me sad.

Next week we’ll hopefully have my opinion on a few more games than this, but for now, take a look at my currently-running Let’s Play of Tomb Raider 3, or follow me on Twitter where I post updates and comments on gaming news frequently!

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