Nintendo and Arika make the endless ocean even bigger and better in this sequel.
The first Endless Ocean was very exploratory; you basically just swam around different ocean environments while performing menial tasks. There was no danger. It was just you, the ocean, and some harmless sea life. The game's sequel, Endless Ocean: Blue World, removes that feeling of safety and adds a whole lot more. Now there's a story to work through, an incredible amount of side quests, and more variety to the locales. To boil it down, Blue World is a fantastic sequel.
The game places you in the flippers of a new recruit of the L&L Diving Service, and the main story has you and your crew attempting to unravel the mystery of the Dragon's Song. The story isn't particularly gripping, having more in common with the slow, plodding pace of a Japanese role-playing game than anything else. You even add more members to your party as you progress.
The short main quest serves a grand purpose, though. It's a greatest hits compilation of the varied environments you travel to, giving you a taste of just about everything the game has to offer. The locales, which look great when you're swimming through them, range from the tried-and-true oceans of the original to a South American river, the Arctic, and the Antarctic. Each area is enjoyable and rewarding to explore; you find new creatures, trinkets, and more wherever you go. Some areas are unfortunately limited, though. For example, the river is extremely linear.
Outside of the main quest, there are countless side quests to complete and treasures to collect. You can go off and use your Multisensor, which detects hidden items on the ocean floor, to find salvageable items that can be used to get Pelagos (Endless Ocean's form of currency) or complete quests, which also net you Pelagos. Another new tool, the Pulsar, is a gun that is used to heal wounded animals and calm agitated creatures. You can also take people on dive tours around different areas, searching for specific animals.
There is also an aquarium that you unlock and become the curator of, and you can build up your marine encyclopedia and select specific animals to display in your aquarium. There are also coins hidden all over the ocean that unlock more things, all sorts of outfits and hairstyles to find and buy, legendary creatures to find, and more. There is a straight-up obscene amount of content in this game, and while it is all derived from the same basic diving mechanic, it manages to stay fresh throughout.
The underwater controls are wonderful with the Wii Remote. You point at the screen and lead your character around, making them move forward by holding the B button. The rest of the button placement is serviceable, with almost every button used to bring up a menu at the bottom of the screen and a nice map overlay. You can also use the Classic Controller, but the dual stick control scheme doesn't work as fluidly. Blue World is obviously made for the Wii Remote.
While the underwater controls are great, the on-shore controls remain as awkward as ever. Your rigid avatar moves slowly as you use the same pointer-based movement controls used for swimming. The main hub on land is Nineball Island. Luckily, everything there can be activated in a menu by pressing the + button. You can also pop out of the water in certain locations, and even go on shore to interact with some land-based animals.
As players perform all these tasks they unlock titles, which are effectively achievements. There are 150 to obtain, and they are gained for completing the main story, finding different animals, and the like. Blue World is tailor-made for completionists.
In addition to the sprawling single-player experience, you can also go online with a friend and explore the oceans together. While this was also present in the first game, you can now use the Wii Speak peripheral to talk to the other player. The standard Wii limitations, such as Friend Codes, hinder the online experience, but the use of Wii Speak is on par with how it works in Animal Crossing: City Folk. You can also snap pictures just like you could in the original, but this time you can save them to your SD card. Sadly, you can no longer use the SD card to play MP3s while you dive, so you're forced to listen to the sometimes bizarre, often Celtic music.
For anyone with an affinity for sea life and an appreciation of gaming at a slower pace, Endless Ocean: Blue World is a must purchase - especially since it's hitting stores for a low initial MSRP of $29.99. Regardless, Endless Ocean: Blue World is a great game rife with content, and it's a steal at any price.