As Kylie Minogue once said, “I can’t get the Wii out of my head.” What? She didn’t…? Oh. Well, maybe she should have, or I should have, or someone should have, because there’s plenty to talk about when it comes to Nintendo’s breakout console of the 2000s. This article first appeared on my blog, Recollections of Play, December 29, 2011.
Our Wii console is definitely the low man on the totem pole in our gaming hierarchy. This is partially due to the fact that, in recent years, we really haven’t had enough space to play any of the frantic, limb-swinging (but not really) Wii games. So for the past couple years, our Wii has been secondarily a gaming console and mostly an internet device.
Despite my overarching love for Nintendo, I’ve only purchased and played a miniscule fraction of its games. I should be ashamed of myself, but I’m not. I have immensely enjoyed the handful of Wii games that I have played.
But I really don’t know if I should count Endless Ocean among them.
Endless Ocean for the Wii is like the following things:
Your grandmother’s chicken soup.
Hot chocolate with tiny marshmallows.
All these things are good, so it should therefore follow that Endless Ocean is good too. And it is, until you get phenomenally bored and decide it’s time to actually go outside and see real fish.
Endless Ocean is a diving “game.” You play as a scuba diver out seeking treasure and general knowledge about the wildlife of the seas. (You can actually “pet” some creatures. Good sharky, who’s a sweet wittle sharky?) You are also given the opportunity to hunt through shipwrecks and caves where there are rare species and treasures to find. You have a base ship where you can interact with other members of your “crew” and keep track of your progress. When diving, you have to be mindful of things like your stock of food and air supply.
Air Supply! That’s what this game is like!
Why did we get this game? Let’s see…it came out in 2007. At the time our Wii was still relatively new and the Wii itself still had a lot of inherent novelty. I guess we wanted a game that was different from your standard fare and took advantage of the unique controls. (It’s doesn’t really, but we didn’t know that at the time.) However, we both enjoy ocean wildlife and aquariums, and during the time we were really into watching Blue Planet in HD, so maybe that had something to do with it.
In all respects, Endless Ocean is…um….uh…well, just what is it? It’s bee-u-tee-full, from the backdrops to the animals. The underwater environments are incredibly realistic (for the Wii). Plants and anemone sway with currents. Corals are brightly colored, as are many of the fish that flit, flutter, or linger about. And there aren’t just fish – there are sharks, cephalopods, mollusks, shellfish, penguins, and the list goes on. All the wildlife looks really amazing.
The game is also so chill. I mean, you can follow the “missions” or just freely swim around. There are no ultimate stingray battles, no hand-to-hand combat with poachers, no predator versus prey situations. Your life is never threatened; there’s no reason to kill and there’s no chance of dying. It’s all so nice, so peaceful, so utopian. And that’s just fine – games don’t need to have violence just for the sake of having violence. I have no reason to hate parrot fish so much that I’d want to stab them. “Playing” the “game” provides a nice respite from the blood, guts, and glory of most other games. And everyone needs a break from all that stuff now and again…right?
But therein lays the problem. What’s a game without a challenge? Making a pb&j is more difficult than Endless Ocean. I guess you could say that finding the rare stuff in the game is challenging, but that’s doesn’t require skill as much as luck. (And in my experience, there’s no such thing as luck. Haha.) There are no repercussions if you don’t do the missions. This game, no…let’s call it an activity…it’s like going for a walk in a quiet forest or picking flowers from a dew-swept meadow. It’s so tranquil and calm. It’s awesome and kinda not-so-awesome all in one.
Oddly enough, of the Wii games we’ve owned, Endless Ocean is one of the few we still have. It seems a little wrong to sell back something that’s just so friendly and sincerely wants to teach you something about ocean life. Sure, it’s been…awhile…since I’ve played it myself, and it’s quite possible that we’ll pass it onto someone else eventually so they can get their serenity on. For now, it serves as a reminder than not all games need to involve machine guns, blood spatter, and sexy people. But sometimes it’s a lot cooler when they do.
Dazed and Confused! Now that’s what this game is like!