Game: Endless Ocean
Release date: 2009
Would it shock you if I said that this "scuba simulator" is one of my favorite Wii games thus far? Well, it is. I know what some of you are thinking in response to that admission: Isn't this the title that was derided as a "non-game" upon release? Why, yes, it was. And you know what? All of the folks who declared Endless Ocean unworthy of attention (because of its supposed non-game status) were wrong. To me, it's a piece of software (a "game," if you will) that could and should be enjoyed by everyone from so-called hardcore gamers to those oft-criticized "casuals" thanks to its one-handed (in terms of controls) and open-world--or maybe I should say open-ocean--approach. Admittedly, there aren't any enemies in this game, although there are plenty of scary-looking (and not-so-scary-looking) creatures to touch, photograph and examine in it. And that, really, is the point of Endless Ocean--to explore the depths of the make-believe "Manoa Lai" sea and interact with its many inhabitants. Thankfully, said sea is made up of a number of disparate areas, including caves and trenches, and also features additional points of interest like ship wrecks and sunken treasure--all of which are wonderfully realized despite the Wii's underpowered hardware. Also wonderfully realized: Endless Ocean's ethereal soundtrack, the majority of which is made up of songs performed by "operatic pop" singer Hayley Westenra.
See also: Previous 'Great Gaymathon' posts