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Video Game of the Week – Endless Ocean: Blue World
Endless Ocean: Blue World is the second deep-sea diving game for the Wii, following the release of the original Endless Ocean back in January 2008.
But while Endless Ocean was a fascinating experience, the gaming action was strictly limited. With Blue World, Nintendo is trying to change all that, combining an adventure element to an already compelling journey of discovery.
The Blue World storyline is simple but well-constructed. You team up with the L&L Diving Service to search for clues to the origin of the Song of Dragons, a mysterious tune heard in oceans around the world. The owner of the L&L is a grizzled old diving veteran named Jean-Eric Louvier, but the real star of the game is his granddaughter, Oceana.
L&L's base of operations is Nine Ball Island, which is where players check in between missions, get to know their companions, and pick up new equipment. Players can also befriend the local dolphins, which then come along for the ride when you dive.
Players explore all the oceans of the world, discovering hundreds of species of fish, mammals and exotic sea creatures unique to each region. There are underwater wrecks to explore and treasure to be salvaged. Players can even sell some of the valuables they recover, trading them for coral and other decorations for their own private reef.
But not everything in Blue World is so relaxing. You have a limited air supply for each mission, which means you are rudely yanked back to the surface whenever your air meter runs out. This limits how much you can accomplish in a single dive and lends a sense of urgency to everything you do.
And not all the creatures that you run into are friendly. Poisonous fish, hungry sharks and other threats can appear at any time. Your main life-saving tool is an underwater pulsar, which can be used to blast the predators and keep them at bay. It comes in handy at other times too, when a zap of healing energy can be used to bring sick creatures back to full health.
Despite the storyline and the mission-based gameplay, the true heart of the Blue World experience remains the exploration and discovery of the lush aquatic worlds. The oceans are teeming with life and color, but you can also swim among the giant icebergs of the Antarctic, investigate the muddy banks of the Amazon, or dive into black underwater caves.
Blue World is clearly designed for single-player adventure but you can dive or hang out with a friend via the Nintendo Wi-Fi connection. Look for future editions to bring multi-player action to what is already a richly rewarding – and educational – experience. Endless Ocean: Blue World is rated "E 10+" – recommended for children aged 10 or older. Some encounters with sharks and other creatures may be frightening for younger children.
Publisher: Nintendo Platforms: Nintendo Wii Genre: Simulation, exploration RRP: $29.99 ESRB Rating: "E 10+"; everyone 10 and older
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