Faced with dwindling global sales for console games and an audience that is increasingly enamored with newer brands and icons on mobile and social platforms, Sega has been getting nostalgic as of late. The house of Sonic has placed special emphasis on cutting development of new, big budget games preferring to instead leverage its catalog. With more and more HD re-releases of its old games on the way, it’s a wonder if Sega will ever do anything new with its old properties besides Sonic the Hedgehog 4 and Phantasy Star Online 2.
It may do just that. Riding high on the growing wave of ‘90s nostalgia, Sega is reportedly meeting with Ed Annunziata, the creator of Ecco the Dolphin, to discuss a new game in the series.
Annunziata Tweeted late last week that consultant Scott Foe, who worked with Sega on a number of Dreamcast projects including Outtrigger and Bomberman Online, had helped him set up the meeting with Sega to discuss a potential new Ecco the Dolphin game. He later said that the original game’s composer Spencer Nilsen is involved with the new project.
During Sega’s peak popularity in the early ‘90s with the Sega Genesis, Ecco the Dolphin was amongst the company’s most recognizable mascots. The games were unique, both then and now. You played as the titular dolphin, swimming through maze like levels on a quest to keep the ocean clean and safe from both pollutants and less savory aquatic creatures. After an attempt to bring Ecco back during the Dreamcast era with the technologically impressive Ecco the Dolphin: Defender of the Future, the property was ignored.
Annunziata has also been absent from the gaming landscape for a long time. While he never produced another game for Sega that was quite as big a hit as Ecco, he made some of the most impressive Sega Genesis titles out there, including Jurassic Park and X-Men, as well as some eccentric, fun oddities like the 32X’s Kolibri and the Saturn’s Mr. Bones. The closest he came to replicating Ecco-level success was the 1995 shooter-platformer Vectorman.
Sega hasn’t had much success making new entries in classic series. Nights: Journey Into Dreams for Wii, Sonic the Hedgehog 4: Episode 1, and Rocket Knight Adventures are just a few of the duds Sega’s made over the past five years looking to trade on past glory. With Annunziata at the helm though, maybe this new Ecco can recapture some of that old Sega magic.