Never in a million years would I have chosen Endless Ocean Blue World off of the shelf. After playing it on our Wii for a few weeks now, however, it is now one of my family's favorites.
There are a lot of things that I love about this game, and I'll get to that, but first let me tell you a little bit about the game. Your role in the game is as a deep-sea diver. Your character goes on dives, expeditions, and treasure hunts. You are trying to solve a mystery and discover clues along the way as you participate in smaller quests.
Basically that's it. You swim around the ocean and do things. If you're looking for a fast-paced game, this is not the game for you. But let me tell you why it might just be for you.
The thing I love the absolute most about this game is that is entirely nonviolent. There is tension and drama in the game in the form of dangerous sea creatures, but there is no shooting, no hitting, nothing.
If you are too near a dangerous shark, you use your Pulsar tool to "calm" him. If you don't use the Pulsar tool fast enough, you might get swatted by the shark's tail and use up too much of your oxygen and have to return to the surface. Coming from a family where my kids will imitate anything violent, this is such a welcome change. I have found nothing objectionable for my kids to emulate in this game. Nothing.
The thing I love the second most is that is unobtrusively educational. When you're swimming around, your character identifies different fish. My kids have learned so much about different kinds of fish. It is amazing. Not only that, but they are learning about different bodies of water. Just this afternoon, my 8-year-old was telling me all about the Red Sea. This game has sparked in them an interest in sea life and water that I am blown away by.
Furthermore, because it is difficult to figure out where you are going underwater, you are forced to use a map to navigate. My kids are learning the directions, and not just the easy ones either. They are learning about northeast and southwest too.
Honestly, I've just scratched the surface of the game in this review. Players get to stock an aquarium, play with dolphins, and salvage treasure. There is a feature in which you can visit other Endless Ocean Blue World player's oceans. We don't know anyone else who has the game though, so we haven't tried out that feature yet.
There are a few things about the game that aren't great. First of all, because it is a little slow-moving, it will not necessarily hold everyone's interest. Some of the quests and riddles are complicated and hard to figure out and complete, which makes it challenging and fun, but can also make it frustrating. My 8 1/2-year-old plays the game, but I don't think a younger child could play it. However, even though he can't figure everything out, it is still his favorite game.
My next quibble is minor, but crucial in my household. All of the game's dialogue is written out on the screen, but not spoken, which makes it difficult for my non-reader to follow along when he's watching his big brother play.
Also kind of annoying is that you swim by pointing the Wii remote at the screen and pushing a button. It's exhausting to have to hold your arm up all the time. (Okay, I'm kidding. Mostly.)
All put together, I give Endless Ocean Blue World a hearty thumbs up. (Which is how you have to communicate underwater, because you can't talk.)
Also, thanks to Nintendo for sending the most awesome stuffed animal ever in the box with the game.
Honesty Clause: I received a copy of this game to review at no charge as part of my role as a Nintendo Brand Enthusiast. It sells for $29.99. I was also sent an awesome stuffed dolphin as well, which lists for $49.99, but sells for less than $25 at Amazon.