There's plenty of fish in the sea...
But of all the aquatic life in the virtual video game waters, we wondered which one of them was the absolute best. In our year-long quest to find the Greatest Animal in the History of Video Games, we nominated a list of animals and had judges decide on the top aquatic animal who would represent its species at the end of the year.
And who, pray tell, would be able to choose the best of best in the virtual undersea universe? Why, these fine folks of course:
- Tofuburger, co-founder of cultural phenomenon/funny animal picture blog I Can Has Cheezburger
- Morgan Gray, senior producer at Crystal Dynamics
- Nick Chester, editor-in-chief at Destructoid
We asked the judges to choose their top three picks and rank them. After tallying their votes, the winner came out to be... Ecco the Dolphin! There were no overlaps in choices save for Ecco, so second place went to Gyarados of the "Pokemon" universe and third was a ridiculous four-way tie between Wind Fish, Del Lago, Seaman and the 7th Colossus.
As for the Readers' Choice... you guys chose Ecco the Dolphin -- hands down. There were an overwhelming number of reader votes for Ecco, who evidently made an indelible impression on many a gamer (including Denis Dyack).
See what other choices made the judges' list and which judge was the only one who didn't choose Ecco as their number one pick...
Tofuburger, I Can Has Cheezburger:
3. Blooper -- "Super Mario Bros." – There were a couple of people at Cheezburger HQ who thought Blooper shouldn't even be on this list. "Because, well, you can just duck and walk on the seafloor and then he can't hurt you," is what they said. Well, sure, if you want to cheat! But fact, Blooper is a squid-thing that can swim and fly and play "Mario Party" and ink up your rival kart's windshield, so, WIN.
2. Wind Fish – "Legend of Zelda: Link's Awakening" – You were born in a time when the Game Boy had more colors than green and black? Then let me break it down for you: The Wind Fish is neither wind nor fish, and we all live in its head, see, we're all living in this big dream of the Wind Fish... you... me... this whole island, and if he ever wakes up — whoa — like, whoa. So yeah, he has to be on this list, I mean, we're all just his dream, man, dig?
1. Ecco – "Ecco the Dolphin" – So many fond memories of swimming the seas with this time-traveling dolphin. I don't know what you guys are doing this weekend, but if you want to come over, we could play some "Ecco the Dolphin," then watch some "seaQuest DSV," and then play some more "Ecco the Dolphin." Let's see, we've got orange juice, soda, purple stuff, Sunny D -- Wait, what do you mean it's not 1994 anymore?
Nick Chester, Destructoid:
Before I begin, let me start by saying that I don't appreciate the pressure I'm feeling from the Universe to choose Ecco the Dolphin. I realize that I'm going to get a world of noise and disappointing looks from my colleagues (and Multiplayer readers), but I will not be bullied. That said, here are my Ecco-less choices:
3. I have to give the Cheep-Cheeps of the "Super Mario Bros." universe some love. While trying to live a peaceful life in the oceans of the Mushroom Kingdom, the Cheep-Cheeps were attacked by both Mario and his hanger-on of a brother, Luigi. Simply trying to mind their own business, these thoughtless plumbers attacked the Cheep-Cheeps with fire... while underwater! And what happens when they try to flee their natural home, pushing against the grain of evolution and flying from the oceans? Mario or Luigi jump on their heads. It's disgusting, and believe me, this hasn't gone unnoticed.
2. Ahead of its time, Sega beat Nintendo's "Nintendogs" to the punch with "Seaman," creating one of the first voice-interactive fish-type-thing video games. As anyone who's had the pleasure of raising a Seaman will tell you, it's rude, obnoxious, and a generally insufferable pain in the rear. But those same people will also tell you that there's nothing that can make you forget the Seaman -- he'll haunt your dreams until the day you die. Nothing is creepier or more rewarding than a well maintained Seaman.
1. For my third and final pick, I've chosen Ecco the Dolphin. Wait a minute... what just happened? Oh, who am I kidding? Above my fireplace I have a framed print of the Boris Vallejo painting used as the box art for the original game. Ecco's a time-traveling dolphin that bests an ancient race of space aliens by using echolocation -- what kind of animal could turn a blind-eye to that?
Morgan Gray, Crystal Dynamics:
First off, I have to say that I would love to include the [no spoilers] awesome sea critter towards the latter part of "Endless Ocean." However, after 15 hours of diving, I have yet to meet it, so I can't in good faith promote it. But I can say that if you love this topic, YOU MUST PLAY THAT GAME. It's become a religion at home.
So my actual choices:
3. Ecco - Sure sure, everyone will say this is a "safe" choice, but seriously. This was amazing when it came out. The graphics, the speed really made the Sega sing. And if anyone grabbed you on the street and said, "Hey, I got a game where you play a bottlenose dolphin, and it's awesome," you would have thought them crazy. But they pulled it off!
2. The Fish Serpent Colossus in "Shadows of the Colossus" ( I think #7) - Now there is a lot to love in this game, but of all the fights, this one stands out as the most awesome to me. First, there is the long descent into the dude's (I guess it might be male) casa. Then you get the cool sneak preview of his electrical styles before finally going all in and diving in the water, and that's just where the fun starts. Holding onto this guy as he goes in and out of the water blew my mind. I only wish he had a name, so that I could pay him the respect he is due.
1. Gyarados - This is a no brainer. I have been rolling with "G-Unit" (what I have renamed him) since "Pokemon Yellow." I can barely remember when I fished up that meager little first Magikarp. Who would have thought he would have turned into an awesome Sea Dragon (well, Water/Flying, but let's not split hairs)? I certainly had no idea that he would travel from version to version of the franchise with me (most recently seen in "Pokemon Battle Revolution"). I mean, who else would you want to put SURF on? Hands down, he's the master of the sea, and deserves his place in the Aquatic Gaming Hall of Fame. Or at the very least #130 on the Pokedex.
Leigh Alexander, Sexy Videogameland:
3. Enguarde! I love the character models from "DK Country." Even though Enguarde had the crummiest bonus level of all of the monkey mounts, I will always appreciate his ceaseless grin of cheerful servitude as he swam around with a giant gorilla on his back. Was fun to nose-poke those surly little sharks, too.
2. Del Lago! Man, though, that was a cool fight. It feels like not very long ago that "RE4" was cutting edge, and that fast-paced boss battle was like some kind of gross mutant herald of innovation. The rush of the monster leaping out or barreling through the water was really neat, atmospheric and sensory, and all of that harpoon-in-the-kisser was fun. I remember Ecco for being different from everything else at the time, and I guess I remember this guy for the same reason. Fish = THE FUTURE?
1. Ecco! His sparkly echolocation made for a game mechanic I'd never seen before at that point, and I'll while I'll always remember the aquatic environments fondly, one of my favorite things in that game was to leap out of the water and do flips. It all felt so fluid and organic -- until I overextended myself and made poor Ecco flop around helplessly on some spikes, or something. In penance, I elect him number one.