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Celebrate National Dolphin Day with these great games


In these uncertain times, with social isolation the new norm and being unable to play out in the sunshine, I needed a new challenge. It seems that April 14th is, in fact, the National Day of the Dolphin. The challenge was therefore set – to create a piece based around this day, detailing the games you should be playing in order to celebrate this great day. Sadly, I could only find three games that I’d played that actually featured dolphins, so I decided to cheat a bit, grab a bit of artistic license and provide you with some of the best “Marine Creatures in Gaming”. So, come with me to the seven seas as I cobble together a list of my favourite gaming marine creatures for National Dolphin Day – and yes, it includes the good old dolphin. Obviously.


1. Ecco the Dolphin

There should be no surprise to the game that will kick this piece off, as Ecco is probably the most famous dolphin the world has ever seen, bar Flipper of course. 

Sega’s dolphin simulator came along when I was a fresh faced teenager. The year was 1992, the Megadrive had pride of place under the giant CRT TV in the living room, and when I could elbow my dad out of the way (he loved a bit of Altered Beast) I was able to indulge all my dolphin related fantasies. Swimming, jumping, battling, and more often than not drowning, I loved my time with Ecco the Dolphin. 

There were no guns, no explosions, and no real violence – just a crazy journey to find an ancient Blue Whale and to try and save the rest of his pod of dolphins from an alien queen. Just another day in the ocean.

It was unique in other ways too, especially in the way that echolocation is used in the game; something that was quite novel as it could be used to show a map of the surrounding area when the corresponding button was held down. The same button caused Ecco to sing, allowing him to interact with other creatures and even giant crystals called “Glyphs”, causing them to move, revealing a new path to take. Singing to clams also refilled Ecco’s air, as while this was a game, the basic physiology of the dolphin requires him to breathe air, and if he didn’t he died. And yes, that was fairly heartbreaking. 

He could also die if he failed in combat, obviously, but here there was an issue: in order to do damage, Ecco would need to be moving at high speed and ram enemies, which took room to build up. Normally I’d be strolling around the levels at a slow speed, but then see an enemy, have to turn around, then come back faster in order to fight. Luckily, Ecco’s sonar can also be used to make enemies disoriented or frozen, and so a two-pronged approach could be effective. 

Without a word of a lie, I loved Ecco the Dolphin and writing this piece has brought back many a good memory. 

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