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Ecco the Dolphin

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Console: Sega Master System

What’s a common way of breaking up the left-to-right routine of your typical platformer? Put an underwater level or two in it! So if your entire medium seems bogged down with an overabundance of jumping and item-grabbing, how about a whole game of underwater levels to redress the balance? That logic will lead you to Ecco the Dolphin, Sega’s acclaimed 1992 chirp-em-up, which expanded onto 8-bit machines the following year to a similarly positive reception.

The game’s gorgeous subaquatic visuals are dimmed but not utterly diminished on the low-color SMS, which works hard recreating the Genesis original’s labyrinthine depths and deceptively deep storyline of aliens, Atlantis, and apocalypse.

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