Fans of the diving genre who are just about done with their Endless Ocean: Blue World playthroughs have another reason to get back in the water. Dive: The Medes Islands Secret is not exactly as robust as Nintendo’s sea exploration sequel. In fact, Dive is a WiiWare title that foregoes open roaming in favor of more focused treasure hunting.
Despite the game’s small size, Dive manages to fit in a somewhat intriguing Knights Templar backstory which provide the basis for all the underwater treasures strewn throughout the game. The levels, with their 2D design, will call to mind the 16-bit versions of Ecco The Dolphin, although the diver you portray certainly does not move as swiftly as the famous dolphin. And you definitely would not want to rush into unexplored areas; there are countless wildlife hazards from octopi to jellyfish to man-grabbing plants. The sight of the first shark will make some players see that Dive is serious business. One particularly challenging creature is the moray eel, which lunge at the diver in dark spaces.
Goal-oriented players will appreciate Dive for having defined objectives, specifically with the treasures, which include three optional chests per map as well as the chapter’s main treasure. The replay value comes from how these treasures are placed. Some cannot be accessed during the first playthrough of a given map and require upgrading your equipment. Your default wetsuit for example is not designed for lower depths. This is obviously where the character-building element comes in. One of the challenges during the dive is having enough oxygen and your usage is affected by, depth, swimming speed, and coming in contact with creatures. Fortunately, there are numerous air balloons littered throughout the map which refill your tank and the tank’s capacity is one of the five upgradable features of the game. Improving your flashlight and scuba suit help in accessing other parts of the map. Upgrading the spear increases ammo capacity and improved flippers help with mobility.
Many will enjoy Dive‘s checkpoint system, which are activated every time the diver gets to an air balloon. There is also no penalty for reselling items so one item can be temporarily downgraded in order to take advantage of the upgraded benefits of another item.
The one blemish in Dive will only affect obsessive compulsives who require 100% completion in all their games. There is a known glitch where a couple treasures are impossible to obtain due to impassable obstacles getting in the way. At least it does not prevent the user from getting all the primary treasures.
Spread across 10 maps, getting the full experience and obtaining all possible items will take about 5 to 6 hours which should satisfy many who have spent 1000 Wii points for past WiiWare games. The relaxing tropical backdrops before each dive and the often-serene music gives this game the same calming vibe that many enjoyed in Endless Ocean, that is until you reach the deeper, more hostile depths of Dive.
(This review was based of a full playthrough of the game. Not all bonus items were obtained. A download code of the game was provided by Cosmonaut Games for review purposes.)
Developer: Cosmonaut Games
Publisher: Cosmonaut Games
Platform: Nintendo Wii (via WiiWare)
Released: July 26, 2010