Decent graphics; upgradeable equipment; plenty of levels
a pretty short experience; a few cheap enemies; gameplay that grows increasingly repetitive
Wii has gotten its share of the great ocean frontier with two Endless Ocean games, and now developer Cosmonaut Games has sought to emulate that in smaller form with Dive: The Medes Island Secret. This is a WiiWare game, which means it is smaller and simpler than a full Wii ocean explorer. It’s also a decent little WiiWare title for those looking to head under the sea.
The game is a vibrant-looking, side-scrolling diving simulation with some action adventure elements. The player moves a boat from location to location, diving underwater and mostly running collecting various treasures. Treasures are worth cash, and that cash is used, in turn, to buy various upgrades to the arsenal: a stronger suit for deeper diving, a better air tank, more shots in the harpoon gun, and so on. Tying it all together is a storyline about the hunt for some sort of secret treasure.
The game ultimately is less about the story, though, and more about the gameplay, and in that respect the game rolls things out pretty well. The game is handled competently with the Wii Remote, with IR used to aim the diver, B to swim, holding B to swim fast (at a loss of a bit of oxygen), and A to fire a harpoon. In the early levels, only part of a given level is initially available, as many of the locations are too deep for the default suit to handle. In time, as money is accumulated and better equipment becomes available, divers can forage deeper into the unknown to find new and different treasures. This serves to give many of the levels some extra replay value.
Other hazards besides deep waters abound in this ocean. Enemy fish, sharks, and strange serpents that spring out of holes make up just some of the adversaries that loom in these waters, and being hit by them sharply accelerates the depletion of oxygen. To help combat these menaces, the game offers a few defenses. One, the player is equipped with a limited supply of harpoons that can be fired at enemies to either stun or kill them, depending on the enemy’s resilience. Two, players can find refills of harpoons and oxygen in the field. Three, each level contains scattered checkpoints, and the game mercifully returns fallen characters to the most recent checkpoint with everything accumulated even after passing the checkpoint.
One would not reasonably expect much more from a game for 1000 Wii points, and indeed, there isn’t a lot more to talk about. The game does record certain achievements and catalogs the varied types of captured treasure, and the ability to upgrade certainly makes the treasure hunting worthwhile. Being a ten dollar game, though, the action runs out after a few hours and the gameplay can get a little repetitive before you even get to the game’s later levels, since players will most likely run out of upgrades long before they run out of places to explore.
With the rapid decline of the Virtual Console, Wii owners looking for downloadable titles have had to rely almost exclusively on WiiWare fare. This both a blessing and a curse, because although WiiWare games usually look better than classic games, they aren’t necessarily longer or deeper than the full-fledged games of the NES or SNES era. Dive: The Medes Island Secret exemplifies this conundrum, offering a game that looks and sounds good but whose premise only holds up for so long. That said, Cosmonaut has still managed to do better than many WiiWare developers have, and for that reason is worth ten dollars to those who enjoy the undersea simulation niche.
Nintendojo was provided a copy of this game for review by a third party, though that does not affect our recommendation. For every review, Nintendojo uses a standard criteria.