A new Ecco the Dolphin Game has surfaced online in the form a limited playable prototype. The Ecco games were a Genesis staple, making their way to both the console version and the hand-held Sega, the Game Gear. The game was originally intended for the Sega Dreamcast as a follow up to ECCO the Dolphin: Defender of the Future, however, it was canceled while in mid-development and hasn’t been seen online until this month. A video game enthusiast came across the game in a Dreamcast development kit and decided to share it with the world.
Known as Ecco II: Sentinels of the Universe, the game exists only in prototype form, and can be downloaded from the Hidden Palace. The Hidden Palace is a website dedicated to preserving video game history. The prototype is quite eerie, as the prototype has no music or background sound, but the visuals are just as good as the other Ecco games. Ecco the Dolphin: Sentinels of the Universe was slated to come out presumably in 2001, but was canceled. Previously, the only footage of the game existed on an Ebay video when a development kit was placed up for sale; now, 15 years from the intended release year, we have a playable – if not short – prototype. Hidden Palace has promised more Ecco updates if the development kit discs contain them. For now, they’ve released a fully-ripped GD-ROM version playable on PC Dreamcast emulators, and a self-boot CDI image you can burn to disc and play on a Dreamcast console.
The Ecco series started on Sega Genesis in 1992, followed by 1994’s Ecco 2: The Tides of Time on Sega and then 1995 brought Ecco Jr. on Genesis, however, this was a title intenedd for children so gameplay was eaier and players couldn’t die. In 2000, the series was rebooted for the Dreamcast and PlayStation 2 with Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future. Players played as Ecco the Dolphin in a world where dolphins have their own society, and must save the planet, swimming through underwater levels. The game was actually pretty difficult, with over 20 levels, and the tone would shift from friendly to darker at times.
The Ecco the Dolphin games were beautiful, complex and fun to play, with hypnotic music, so it would be interesting in the game series lived on again with new titles. You can currently play the older Ecco titles on Steam, with discounts as low as $.79. Some of the Ecco the Dolphin titles have also been ported to Nintendo’s Virtual Console and Xbox Live Arcade. Even today, fansites and fan albums for the game series. Two failed Kickstarters to revive the series were started and canceled, with the first in 2013, however, we never know what the future might hold. Until then, I hope Ecco fans (like me) enjoy the protoype of Ecco the Dolphin: Sentinels of the Universe and dream of what could’ve been. Another Ecco game was reportedly canceled, this one would’ve been for the Saturn console.