slag's Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure (Wii) review

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This Ain't Ecco the Dolphin

(EDIT: 1/30/2013 - Changed Star Rating to reflect removal of half stars from the new Giant Bomb Site. Revised down to 1 star from 1.5)

Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure is an underwater action adventure game where players assume the role of various extinct sea creatures based on the National Geographic 3d movie of the same name.

Ancient prehistoric sea monsters how can this go wrong? oh very very wrong.

SM is very short, ugly, and poorly designed.

Gameplay & Controls

SM controls in theory very much like the Old Ecco the dolphin series did on Dreamcast, adopting the same 3rd person perspective. However it emulates this poorly. The player steers any of the 6 unlockable creatures by pointing the wiimote at the screen and holding A to swim. The players presses B to attack/eat and can use double taps of A and B to do animal specific actions.

The game can be played with nunchuk but doesn't have to be, theoretically you can use the stick to dodge but I didn't find it useful. You can also use the c button to look at your creature, neat but largely worthless.

The game itself is simple. The gameplay entirely takes on one level, a small bay of an inbound seas which can be traversed in mere minutes (called the hub). There is no objective other than playing mini games (found in "portals") and finding fossils. If you can enough fossils you will unlock new creatures to play as well as concept art and a short movie of the creature. When you complete them all you "win".

that's it.

If it sounds directionless and boring , it is. Despite this layout the game is fairly linear in that the creatures must be unlocked sequentially to find fossils to unlock the next one.

The poor graphics make navigation a real issue as the minimap while essential to having any idea where you are lacks any sort of frame of reference to tell you where you are. It has a North symbol and food/fossil/portal/enemy dots and that's it.

Furthermore the camera has a tendency to whip wildly on the player, this can be especially problematic in hunting defending sequences where you are trying to fight another sea creature. Given the game's inconsistent and almost nonexistent collision detection these fights can take a long time and it's easy to completely lose track of where you are.

Fortunately the game is pretty easy and forgiving of player death.

There's no story to speak of and the little text there is will quickly annoy you as the help messages repeat EVERYTIME you do an action. There's also little education to speak of for an educational game. As best as I can tell you the education is merely going into a menu and clicking on bones to read about the creatures.

While the game autosaves after you find any fossil it doesn't bother to remember any destructibles you've cleared so if you are going to play it you might want to play through in a couple sittings

Graphics & Sound

SM looks like an early PS2 game at best. The character models are fuzzy and much of the text you'll have to squint to read. The game suffers from frequent pop-in and clipping as well fish swimming through walls. It's often difficult to see what's going on. The framerate is generally stable but isn't impressive.

What little music there is, is serviceable but not memorable. It generally fits the ethereal otherworldly sound most underwater movies aspire to.

Replay Value/Length

Virtually none. The game itself is basically just unlocking things and once you've done so, you've completed the game. yeehaw.

Verdict

Sea Monsters: A Prehistoric Adventure despite the awesome sounding concept is a poorly made game and isn't fun.

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